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Use this simple system to take control of your calendar and keep your family organized!
I love this time of year. The stores are full of bins overflowing with brand new pencils, fresh pink erasers, and colorful highlighters. I also switch over to a new calendar because I follow the school year instead of the standard January to December year. Earlier in the year, I printed and bound a great blog planner full of pages I was sure I would use. Nope. So I’m using this back to school season to take control of my calendar and share with you what works and what doesn’t.
3 Ways to Take Control of Your Calendar
1. Keep it all in one place
I have multiple schedules to juggle, as does any mother. I used to have a family calendar on the wall, my piano lesson calendar on the piano, my blog planner on the desk and another notebook for my homeschool and co-op lesson plans. Ugh. I just couldn’t keep up with it all! More than once, I would switch a piano lesson around only to realize it conflicted with a family obligation. So I tossed everything out and started over with a calendar that had enough room for everything. The one I chose has month-at-a-glance pages and then week-at-a-glance with lots of room for filling in the details. No more searching through the house for the right calendar when I’m trying to make an appointment!
2. Use a SIMPLE color-coding system
If I wanted to, I could probably break down my schedule into fifteen different categories with even more detailed subcategories. That’s just the way my brain works and there’s always so much going on. But realistically, that’s going to make things so complicated I won’t do ANYTHING and then everything descends into chaos. I really hate that “out of control” feeling I get when I know I’m behind on something or had something important to do but I didn’t take the time to plan and schedule it. Simplicity is the key to staying in control. I decided to break down my schedule into just four major groups: Family, Church, Co-op/Homeschool and Blog.
I used to use the Sharpie pens (love those things) in different colored inks for my planner, but I was always searching around for the right color when it was time to jot something down. Now I plan all in pencil. I love pencils. As a piano teacher, I use them every day. Now when I open my month-at-a-glance page, I can jot things down in pencil and later when I have a chance, I go back highlighter to visually categorize them.
I was at Walgreens and I saw these nifty new Sharpie Clearview highlighters. You can see through the tip so you know right where to stop when you are marking a line. I already had some colored highlighters at home, so I picked up a two-pack of yellow ones instead. I chose yellow for my Family category since that one is usually the busiest.
3. Leave some empty space
Bear with me a moment while I “philsophize” here. 🙂 I think Americans today are WAY over-scheduled. Our kids are being dragged from school to play dates, to soccer practice, fed in the car on the way to piano lessons and then labor over homework late into the night. There’s no time left for a family simply to “be.” Now don’t get me wrong- I’m a piano teacher! I think kids need extracurricular activities and some independence to develop their own interests. But creativity and imaginative play come from free time. If you have to schedule fun, you’re too busy.
As you fill out your calendar at the beginning of the month, take a good look at each week. Do you have too many days with multiple appointments and activities? Is every Friday night already booked? Having a simple color-coded calendar will help you see what facet of your life is taking up the most time. On my calendar, I have a lot of yellow and blue, which means Family and Church. Those are my two priorities. But I still need to be careful to keep that yellow in check and allow for lazy afternoons playing at the park or Lego-building sessions at the dining room table.
What about you? How do you keep control of your family’s calendar? Do you use a wall calendar, file system or other organizer?
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I have a wall calendar, and I used to in college use sharpie thin markers to put in my various things, and I would have a VERY colorful calendar, I did this for quite some time, and then I had personal calendars, then I used my phone-all were nice ways to keep my schedule but I was trying to juggle several calendars at once. Now, as a adult with a family, I have a wall calendar ( desk cal hung up..lol) and I use the post-it skinny ones and I am able to put several things that can occur on one day lined up and perfect- I dont have them color coded, that might be my next step to assign a color to each of us.
When I was in college I highlighted and used different colors pens all in my planner so I knew what classes I had what days and what assignments were due when. It helps so much! Now I use different colors on our family calendar for appointments, activities, and meal planning!
What a great idea, love Sharpie!
Great suggestions, thank you for sharing. I’ve got #s 1 & 2 down, now to work on 3!
Cathy @ Our Mini Family says
I really need to get back in the hand of using a calendar and hand right everything. I would definitely need a highlighter, too, so I can empathize super important deadlines!
Lori Who Needs A Cape? says
Keeping the family scheduled is always an ordeal, great post!
Nicole Burkholder says
Thank you! My kids are still young, too! I can’t imagine juggling soccer, piano lessons and school activities when they all get older!
What a simple and great idea!!! Gotta love a sharpie!!!
Nicky @ Little Family Adventure says
I haven’t touched my blog calendar either. I think I printed it thru April and that’s about it. I like your system and your tips. Maybe it’ll help me get more organized. Lord knows I need it.
Pure Grace Farms says
Boy do I ever need this. Thanks for the great tips. Now I need to put them into practice and get myself organized. Thanks for sharing,
As much as I try to move to a computer based organizing system, I always come back to paper. Great tips!
Just looked at my calendar and realized that it must be time for school to start because the calendar is full with little notations. Plus, we were in the store today and my child asked if I wanted different colored sharpies and I said, “Why?” Now I know why….
Gaye @CalmHealthySexy says
Hi Nicole – I love back-to-school time and all of those wonderful school supplies! Now that our youngest is in college, I don’t get to do any back-to-school shopping, which makes me kind of sad!
This is a great post. I agree with you 100% about kids and parents being over-scheduled and needing some down time and fun time. We had some extra-curricular activities when I was a kid, but we also had a lot of time just to play outside with our friends. I really think kids need that.
Christina @ Juggling Real Food and Real Life says
As my kids are starting to get older, I am asking them to take more responsibility for their own schedules. I still need to drive them everywhere, but if there are told they have an extra practice, they need to make sure to let me know. We use a giant white board for this. It’s in the stairwell on the way down to the man cave and laundry room. Each child has their name written on it and so do mom and dad. Last year my son had to bring breakfast for his biology class in April. He knew about it in September so he wrote it on the white board. It can’t be a surprise when I walk by that note each day. I use calendars too, but this is a nice tool for the whole family to use.
Gaye @CalmHealthySexy says
Love the big white board idea!
Amy M. Dolar says
Great post! With homeschool, kid’s choir, Scouts, field trips and family stuffs, I reallllly need to combine my calendars. Thanks for the tip! (See what I did there? wink, wink)