As our days fill, it’s easy to lose track of who needs to be where and when. Not to mention bills to pay and the constantly growing to-do lists. I keep it all under control in one place — the family calendar.
My calendar is pretty much my life — it’s the first thing I look at in the morning, and the last place I go before bed. Over the years, I’ve developed a pretty efficient system for tracking appointments, bills, to-dos, and even our weekly menu.
Here are my favorite tricks for keeping it all together:
Location: No calendar will do you any good if it’s never checked. Place your family calendar where it will be most useful. Do you have a centralized location where everyone will see it? Should it be by the front door so you never miss a thing? I keep mine in the bathroom. Yep, the bathroom.
Here I can see it at night as I get ready for bed. I’ll know what clothes to lay out, what time to get up, and if I should track down anything necessary for the day’s activities. It’s also the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. I can check it first thing, then review the day in my head as I get ready.
Color Code: I have a different color pen for each member of the family, and a 6th for all-family functions. This saves valuable writing space as there is no need to label who has the appointment or event. My phone calendar is also color-coded — one for each family member, one for work, and one for the whole family. It helps me see at a glance who is free on any given day.
Stickers: The stickers are a useful tool for sorting out what’s what. Plus, they add a bit of fun & color to a big, white calendar. It also helps the non-readers know what’s happening. My daughter always knows when her own Girl Scout meetings are coming because the sticker we use for Scout meetings has the time written in green. That’s her.
Menu Planning: Using the calendar for meal planning will keep food on the table and more money in your wallet. When your evenings are filled with activities, you’ll need a quick & easy dinner to keep you out of the drive-thru. When your days are spent away from home, you may prefer to plan a crockpot meal.
Pocket storage: Once the date is on the calendar, you can probably toss the paper it came home on. If, however, you need to retain it for directions, phone numbers or other vital information, an envelope taped to the back over will be the perfect solution. Some larger calendars may come with a built-in pocket. Either way, you’ll be able to store the invitations and notes that go with your calendar items.
Bill Due Dates: Keep track of payments with a small notation on the calendar, or schedule a date once or twice per month to pay bills and balance the budget. Wine & Budget Night goes on ours at least once per month, early enough to send our payments on time.
To-Do Lists: Keep a to-do list on or near the calendar, then find a free time to schedule specific items as needed. Things get lost in the shuffle, but if my to-do list is near my calendar, I may see a blank spot that can be allotted to a project or errand.
Post-It Flags: The most irritating thing on my calendar is scribbles from events or meetings that get rescheduled. For things that I know have the potential to move, I write it on a Post-It Flag, then stick that to my calendar instead. It makes it flexible so I am not as annoyed by cancellations. I love my calendar enough to want to keep it pretty — especially since I have to look at those scribbles all month long.
If you’re still looking for a good calendar, I can’t recommend Amy Knapp’s Big Grid Organizer enough. It’s only $7.49 at Amazon right now, and we’ve been using it for years. Here are a few more deals for creating your own calendar:
- VistaPrint: Free Photo Calendar (one per person, just pay shipping)
- Picaboo: $10 off photo book and calendar orders of $50 or more plus free shipping with coupon code HAPPYNY through January 9th
- Kodak Gallery: 25% off photo calendars
- Snapfish: Save 50% on Calendars, Photo Books, and Mugs with coupon code YEAREND50 through 1/6
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