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The Organized Family

As Published In Smead Organomics
The Organized Family

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

Trying to coordinate and organize your family’s schedule can seem like a monumental task. Work responsibilities for mom and dad, extracurricular activities for the kids, trying to fit in chores and family time — how can you manage it with only 24 hours in the day? All it takes is a little advance planning.

Set Up A Family Calendar

There really is only one way to avoid scheduling conflicts and last minute scrambles — and that’s to set up a “family calendar.” Start by hanging a large wall calendar in a high-traffic area of the house (kitchen seems to work well, because everyone goes there daily). Then label each family member’s activities in a different color (Susie in blue, Jimmy in orange, mom in green, dad in red) for easy recognition.

The goal is to record every single upcoming activity for each person in the family — meetings, social engagements, sporting events, doctor appointments, you name it. If someone brings home an invitation to a party or permission slip for a field trip, write it down. As the school sends out notices about upcoming days off, transfer them to your schedule. When your boss asks if you can work late or your child’s piano teacher wants to switch from Tuesday to Wednesday, update the calendar. Get in the habit of putting EVERYTHING related to your family’s agenda in one place.

Get On The Same Page

The next step is to block off a regular weekly meeting with the entire family to go over your upcoming timetable. Take a look at any activities occurring within the next couple of weeks — address conflicts (like mom’s got to work late and Johnny needs a ride home from the game, so he should make plans to go with a friend), decide on any supply-shopping trips (so you can bake cupcakes for the school party or get Mary’s diorama put together), and add the week’s chores. If you carry a personal planner or smartphone, this is also the time to update your portable calendar with the current info — it doesn’t do you much good to plan out the week if you can’t see the schedule while you’re out of the house! Your stress level will drop by a factor of ten, just having each person’s to-dos and responsibilities written down in one visible place.

Get Ready The Night Before (Or Sooner!)

Now that you have your schedule in order, you need to work on your daily routines. Have your children spend 15 minutes before they go to bed packing everything they need for school into their book bags. Ask each person to pick out the clothes they plan to wear the next day. Make everyone’s lunches in advance and store them in the refrigerator overnight. Also consider setting up a “launching pad” — a table, chair, basket, or other container located near the door where each person can put the supplies they’ll need the next day. If your kids can never seem to remember what they take to school, create a standard checklist for them — homework, band instrument, gym clothes, sports equipment, supplies for any extracurricular activities, library books, whatever. You can even make a note of where they tend to leave things, if that helps (like “gym clothes — check the laundry basket”). The goal is to have everything in one place when it comes time to hit the road.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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