Most parents I know are time poor. In fact, most people I know are time poor.
It is therefore essential to be good at time management so you can, well, have a life!
Whilst you might have to invest a bit of time to discover, learn and set up technology to save you time in the short term, in the long term it could save you loads of time, so read this carefully.
Managing your family
Picture this. While out for coffee, your partner asks you if you are free to go out for a romantic dinner on Thursday. You say, ‘Yes, that sounds great.’
But you completely forget that this clashes with parent teacher interviews for your daughter and your son’s footy training. If only you had the ability to check everyone’s diaries in the one location, from anywhere you were! Thankfully this is actually totally possible.
On a regular basis, people say to me, ‘I don’t know how you do it!’ I guess in reference to the companies I run, the two kids I have, the fact that at times I have been the kids’ class coordinator, the manager of the footie team (with my partner), helping promote my partners music duo, fitting in fitness, finding time to have a wine with my girlfriends and more!
My big secret? Google Calendar.
If you use it diligently, Google Calendar cuts out all the hoopla involved in scheduling anything, allowing you to fit it all in and make sure you get on with quality family time (or perhaps even that romantic dinner with your partner that you’ve been meaning to have for an age!).
With Google’s free online calendar, it’s easy to keep track of life’s important events all in one place.
In it, you can create public calendars (say promoting the gigs my partner has upcoming) or private ones (for your eyes only), merge calendars (say yourself, teen kids and your husband) and create reminders.
The most effective way to schedule an appointment through Google Calendar is to ‘create an event’, and use the ‘description’ area to write a simple cover email.
Then add the person whom you wish to invite by placing their email in the ‘add guests’ field, hit save, and your nominated date, time and venue will go to that person’s inbox to accept, decline or respond ‘maybe’.
You can also schedule recurring appointments and sync your Google Calendar with most smartphones to remind you where you have to be, when and what it’s all about. Customisable reminders help you stay on schedule.
You can choose to be notified by email or get a text message sent right to your mobile phone.
For people I know and trust, I will share my entire schedule with on Google Calendar.
For instance, my co-workers, family, and friends can see when I am free or busy, and are welcome to schedule time with me.
This may sound like a massive invasion of privacy, but just don’t list anything that you’re not prepared to share, or, set the event you are listing as ‘private’ so they can see you are busy, but not where you will be, what you will be doing, or who you will be with.
The idea of scheduling your life in this way may seem over the top organised to begin with, but trust me when I say if you can get used to the idea, and be diligent with your scheduling, it means you can indeed ‘fit it all in’!
The system will also help you track RSVPs for meet ups or events so you know who is coming, who declined and who hasn’t yet responded. Best thing of all? It’s free! Check it out here.
Despite being a die-hard Google fan, I’m well aware there is still an army of business people who are die-hard Outlook fans.
To help with the coordination of people who may be on different calendar systems, doodle.com supports Google, Outlook, Apple iCal, Entourage for Mac, Lotus Notes, Windows Live and Yahoo!, and also connects to major social networks.
Sign up for a free account, schedule your first meeting and use the cool functionality that allows you to see available times for all parties involved before you go through the tedium of 100 emails to achieve a date.
For those I don’t know and trust so well, and aren’t prepared to disclose my full calendar with, I use Doodle.com to share my calendar with by integrating it with my Google Calendar. All booked slots display as ‘busy’, and people wanting to book a time with you can send a ‘meeting request’ for various slots that appear to be free in your diary, and which also suit them. Check it out here.
Designed for two, 2life gives you and your partner a dedicated and private space for your relationship.
This multi-feature app includes a treasure trove of ideas for spending quality time together.
Add date night ideas; unlimited instant text messaging, always private and secure; a calendar where either one of you can update your shared schedule; lists of any kind, from errands or groceries to wish lists or project plans; photos; notes; and bookmarks that you want your partner to check out.
You could also browse for fashions, gifts and household items, and bookmark anything you’d like to show your partner or save for later. And more. Check it out here.
Need to call someone in another time zone? Not sure if daylight savings applies currently or not?
Timeanddate.com has a great (and free!) ‘meeting planner’ tool, which allows you to enter two or more locations of meeting participants around the world.
It will then cleverly display a list of times, highlighting the best options in green, the second choices in orange and the ‘no go’ zones in red. No more difficult time calculations – the website does it all for you. Find out more, here.
Using technology to gather opinion
If you’re the organising type and find yourself on committees and requiring people to respond or provide key information (like me!), save time by setting up a Google Form, which will pop all responses into a tidy spreadsheet, saving you time on preparing, printing, distributing, retrieving, collating and then analysing any submitted information.
Google Forms is a useful tool to help you plan events, send a survey, give students a quiz or collect other information such as the footie-teams details in an easy, streamlined way.
A Google form can be connected to a Google spreadsheet. If a spreadsheet is linked to the form, responses will automatically be sent to the spreadsheet. Otherwise, users can view them on the ‘Summary of Responses’ page accessible from the Responses menu.
You can create a form from your drive or from any existing spreadsheet.
Other good survey and form technologies include:
If you have more ideas you would like to share, please comment below.