So, now you have this great repository of knowledge about your family's schedule. And, if it's electronic, when it's turned off and sitting there, it might just as well be a giant rock. Yes, we know we've told you to set up ground rules to have everyone check the schedule on a regular basis. But, whether it's hard-copy or electronic, you're going to need some way to make sure that all family members have the necessary information at their fingertips when they need it. In concrete terms, how are you going to make sure that your older son remembers to stop by the day care center to pick up his little sister on his way home from his trombone lesson?

If your family were on the cutting edge of technology, you'd have your schedule uploaded to a website coded for wireless access, and your son would take his web-enabled cell phone, access the family's calendar, and know exactly what he had to do. (You probably wouldn't feel the need to be reading this book, either.) Fortunately, you can find some more practical, less expensive ways to handle this situation, too.

Things You'll Need 

  • Your family's planner

  • A portable planner for your individual use

Reviewing a Sample Schedule

Succinctly stated, each person needs to know what he has to do at any given time and how that relates to what the rest of the family is doing. We'll look at how to accomplish that using the simple sample family schedule shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Sample Family Schedule
 MomDadOlder BrotherYounger Sister
8:00drive to work band practice 
8:30staff meetingtake Sister to day care day care
9:00workmath test 
9:30major project   
10:00  field trip to farm—take boots
noonlunch with clientpay bills during lunch hourbuy yearbook at lunch 
1:30 sales meeting  
3:30  trombone lesson 
4:30  pick up Sister 
5:00grocery shopping   
5:30wrap birthday present  
6:30dinner at restaurant to celebrate Grandpa's birthday

You'll notice that Mom and Dad's work schedules are included in the family's planner. This combined work and home schedule lets each family member see how his plans will affect and be affected by everyone else's activities. From the sample schedule in Table 2.5, the family can determine the following details that will keep their day running smoothly.

Mom needs to make sure she is carrying with her the following information:

  • Her work obligations for the day

    Staff meeting at 8:30

    Scheduled uninterrupted time from 9:30 to noon to work on a major project

    Lunch with a client at noon

  • The grocery list because she's going to do the grocery shopping after work

  • A note that she must be home by 6:00 to get to the birthday party on time

  • A reminder that Dad won't be available by phone between 1:30 and 3:00

Dad needs to review the schedule before he leaves home so he remembers to do the following:

  • Take Sister to day care, making sure she has her boots for the field trip

  • Take the bills and checkbook with him so he can pay them during his lunch break

Dad also needs to make sure he is carrying with him the following information:

  • His schedule for while he's at work

    Bill paying during lunch hour

    Sales meeting scheduled from 1:30 to 3:00

  • A note that he must be home by 5:30 to wrap the birthday present and get to the birthday party on time

  • A reminder that Mom won't be available by phone between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Older Brother should be prepared for these activities before he leaves in the morning:

  • Band practice, his math test, and his trombone lesson

He also needs to make sure he is carrying with him the following:

  • Check or cash to buy his yearbook at lunch

  • Trombone for his lesson at 3:30

  • Reminder to pick up Sister at 4:30

  • Reminder of birthday dinner at 6:30

  • Phone numbers to reach Mom and Dad; he may want to note that if he needs to reach a parent, Dad's schedule is open in the morning and Mom's schedule is open in the afternoon

Younger Sister should be reminded in the morning, probably by Dad, of these items:

  • She has a field trip to the farm (that's why she's taking her boots) and Grandpa's birthday dinner is tonight

Making the Scheduling Information Portable

Each family member can use a different method of taking his information with him.

Mom and Dad may each choose to use

  • A paper planner— Because of the level of detail they need for their office schedules, they'll probably want planners in either a weekly or daily format.

  • A PDA— This device will hold all of the information they'll need compactly and privately.

  • A computer printout— This option is workable only if the family is using an electronic scheduling system.

Because Mom and Dad work in offices where they have access to computers all day long, they could also use an online calendar. The advantage to them of an online calendar would be that

  • They wouldn't have to copy over each day's schedule into a portable planner.

  • If one of them entered new information into the planner, that new event would be instantly accessible by the other of them so that schedule conflicts could be avoided.

Older Brother won't have online access all day long, so he'll have to opt for a portable system. He, too, can choose from a paper planner, a PDA, or a computer printout. Because he may need to call one of his parents and he won't be sitting at a desk with a phone, he's likely to carry a cellular phone. He can easily use a built-in cell phone calendar to carry his day's reminders along with the phone numbers he may need. On the other hand, he may find that a simple assignment notebook is easier for him to use, especially because he's probably not allowed to enter assignments into his phone while he's in class.


Each person does not need to carry with him all of the details of every other family member's day.

Because Younger Sister is very young and isn't responsible for remembering where she needs to be at any given time, she doesn't need to take a copy of her schedule with her at all.

If the family has chosen a multiuser PDA, each member can print off the day's reminders at the touch of a button before leaving the house in the morning. Mom, of course, will also print off the grocery list directly from the same unit.

To do list

  • Put papers you'll need again soon in a sorter with labeled compartments

  • Keep each family member's mail and papers separate from everyone else's

  • Customize your sorter to fit your family's circumstances

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