Keeping Up With the Family

Another historical article, written sometime before 2005. This is so much easier now with smartphones and shared calendars!

Keeping up with where everyone in our family was at any given time, much less when things need to happen, was not a trivial task. All of us had PDAs, thankfully, and we made extensive use of them and an online calendar that could be accessed from any computer with internet access. Everything that’s scheduled for the family had to be entered into the calendar or we won’t remember it. Dance lessons, family gatherings, appointments, games, Girl Scout meetings, teacher conferences, the day the trash was picked up—absolutely everything.

The catch is that I had to remember to look at the calendar and my to-do list, though, whether online or on my PDA. I also had to remember to synchronize the PDA. I was pretty good on that part but had to nag the rest of the family to do it. I never came up with a solution to getting everyone else to sync their PDAs regularly.

Beyond the technical solutions, we have a whiteboard in the kitchen. Immediate reminders, like “take the outgoing mail with you when you leave,” or “the garden must be watered today!” went there. All of us got pretty good about looking at the whiteboard. Katie had her own small board on her bedroom door, where we noted things like, “Do not disturb: MIGRAINE!” Sam had his own whiteboard next to his desk where he put reminders for himself. When I had a desk, I had one of my own.

There was a grocery list on the refrigerator where we were all supposed to list things as we used them up or as the need for them arose. That was for non-urgent items, as we only grabbed it when we were making a “real” grocery run. Anything urgent had to be verbally requested from whoever was out and about (thank $deity for cell phones).

Still, I longed for family groupware. Yes, I’m serious—groupware designed for family, instead of business, use. So I wrote about it over here.

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