Trounce Time Management Trouble with Tech
I'm often overwhelmed. I feel guilty. I wonder how others – particularly women – do it. I wonder how I am going to be able to give my kids incredible memories while working full-time. It's not a new problem. And it's not particularly different than what others face every day, especially those who decide to add higher education to their to-do list.
So how do I cope? Well, I've decided to give away my struggle to remember all those pesky details. Who took them? Technology.
Some may say I'm a slave to technology, but with two kids at two different schools, a husband (not to mention custody arrangements, which add another layer of complexity), and my own full-time career, I decided to give up attempting to remember it all and, instead, let technology guide me.
Here's how I do it.
My husband and I are Google fans. That's it. We just are. So, many of my suggestions are based on that platform. But never fear — there are multitude of other options, including Microsoft and Apple.
This summer, for instance, my husband shared a Word document with me, helping us remember the myriad of things we need to do as we prepare for the 4th of July and our son's 9th birthday. From buying a piñata to making sure we purchase the stuffers to making sure we have everything on had for a birthday cake. The to-do list is endless and takes two. So, we started brainstorming and began the process of chipping away at all the details. The beauty of Google Docs is that I can easily see who's been in the document, what's been changed and when. It also helps me know what still needs to be done.
I use the shared spreadsheet function as a checking and savings account register and budgeting tool. Every two weeks, I log in, set my bills to pay and then note that in our budget sheet. Then, as I stop by the grocery store, we subtract that money from our grocery budget. That way, my husband and I know where we stand and if we can afford to splurge for a few extra treats when we grab eggs and milk.
I have a work calendar. My husband has a work calendar. We also have a family calendar and one just for our son's custody agreement and any special functions that happen to be related to us and his biological mom. It'll get crazier the older he gets, so we decided long ago that this was the only way. We are relentless about adding everything from family vacations to before-and-after-school activities as well as parent-teacher conferences. Also, the "family calendar" has anything that could affect one or more family members. For instance, daycare has "Wet Wednesday" which means we have to remember to bring swimsuits every Wednesday during summer. It goes on the calendar as my husband and I share the duty of dropping our youngest off at school each day. And if I decide to have dinner with friends (which, believe me, doesn't happen often) that too goes on the family calendar so my husband remembers he's on his own with the kids.
My husband and I rarely have time for phone calls during the day — we're both just too busy. But if we waited until the evening (okay, let's face it, 8:30 or 9 when the kids are in bed) to try to remember all the things we want to say to each other, we'd leave each other out of a lot of important details. So, we drop each other notes — all day long. Sometimes it's "I love you." Sometimes it's "Don't forget to fill that prescription... I put a reminder on the calendar." Other times, we want to make sure to tell each other the funny thing one of our kids did on the way to school. Regardless, it keeps us connected so when we have a moment of time without work and kids, we can enjoy each other and not worry about the details of sharing a complicated and busy life.
Believe it or not, this is a lifesaver. Obviously, I know how to get from work to home and vice versa, but I map my route nearly every time I get in the car for the simple fact that it tells me if there is traffic ahead and exactly when I will arrive at my destination. It even provides an alternate route when traffic is slow. I factor that into my decisions about when to wrap things up at the office and who picks up whom from school.
And the piece of technology that ties it all together? My phone. I have an iPhone. My husband loves Android. It doesn't matter because the functionality is available on either. Plus, Google does a great job of keeping our content backed up against the Cloud. With this much information available on my iPhone, I'm at peace knowing that information stays with me no matter what phone, tablet or computer choice I make next.
Just one less thing to worry about.
This article was written by Brandi Herrman, Instructor of Business Administration at Columbia College.
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