Sometimes the days can feel like an endless list of tasks and events and keeping track of it all and getting everything accomplished can take a lot of coordinating. I know that I am probably just an amateur here because my kids are still pretty little and not involved in that many extracurricular activities yet, but we are juggling two full-time jobs, school and daycare activities, kid activities, friend and family commitments, exercise, and all of the other tasks that have to get done to keep our family fed, clothed, and housed. I am sure this feeling will amplify as my kids get involved in more activities and have more of their own events to add to the schedule. (Though, I do think accomplishing some other tasks may get easier as their constant demands (for juice, for help going potty, for a snack, for new socks, for help with the LEGOs, etc.) may ease a bit? Maybe?!) Anyway, what we’re trying to do now is get some good systems and habits in place that keep us organized today and can hopefully grow and adapt with our family as life gets even crazier!
Here are some of the things that we’ve figured out that are working for us.
- We put as much on autopilot as possible. Most of our bills are on autopay and certain tasks (almost) always get accomplished the same way. Putting it on autopilot doesn’t necessarily mean that the routine never changes. It just means that the task is incorporated to the routine and gets done without any extra planning. It’s similar to not having to make a plan to brush my teeth – it’s just part of my morning and always gets done. For example, my husband always makes the coffee and the girls’ breakfast in the morning. I always pack the lunches and prep the backpacks. Everyone owns certain tasks. Sometimes the routine shifts, but autopilot keeps it incorporated. I used to always get groceries on my lunch break, but now I usually make a quick stop at the grocery store after work before I get the girls from daycare. Either way, I knew exactly when and how the task was going to get done. Exercise is this way too. I have the same days and times every week to do my workouts and so does my husband.
- We minimize errands by doing as much online as possible. We buy all of our toiletries, all of our cleaning supplies, and most of our pantry items online. This is why I can squeeze getting groceries in between work and daycare pick up – I am mostly just getting the fridge stuff, which takes about 15 minutes. We buy stamps online. We print pictures online. We try to do as much as possible this way.
- We do our best to plan ahead. I try to look ahead at least 2 or 3 weeks to see what tasks are coming up that aren’t on autopilot and figure out when they can get done. Everything is harder when it has to be done at the deadline. I can order a birthday gift online in a couple of minutes if the party is a few days away. I don’t have time to do that if the party is today and a trip to the store is always going to take a lot longer.
- We keep a shared online calendar. We use a lot of the google/gmail tools to keep ourselves coordinated and the shared calendar is one of the most important. Everything that falls outside of the work day goes on here and we don’t make any plans without consulting it. This has (almost) completely eliminated the “You didn’t tell me about this/Yes I did” types of discussion and scheduling challenges.
- We keep a shared to do list. We keep this through the google drive tools also with a google sheet. Not everything can get put on the calendar and be “done” just by noting when it is and making the plan to attend. Anything that has tasks associated with it gets put on our shared to do list. For example, if my daughter brings home a birthday party invitation, the party gets added to the shared calendar and to the shared to do list with tasks of RSVP and buy birthday gift. Sometimes things get added to the to do list first if we need discussion to organize or schedule it. For example, call the doctor to schedule flu shots. Or, if we want to plan a half day date, “December date” gets added to the to do list with tasks of coordinate schedules and request vacation. Except for the autopilot items, almost everything goes on here from small stuff like “Mail birthday gift to nephew” to big stuff like “Plan summer vacation.” And, a lot of our coordinating “discussion” to make these plans is done through the comment feature.
- We keep other important information in shared online documents. We have a lot of other shared documents, calendars, and notes that help us keep track of things. We have a shared grocery list (in google keep). We have a shared finances document (google sheet) where we can track our accounts and keep track of our financial goals. We keep a shared birthday calendar (google calendar) and so on. I can access all of this stuff from my computer or my phone, so I always have the notes that I need.
A pretty crucial part of this is that we came up with these systems and routines together and we both use them consistently and reliably. There was some trial-and-error and some adjustments along the way to get everything arranged in a way that worked for both of us. We’ve got a good system now, though, and (I think/hope that) it keeps things from slipping through the cracks.
What tips and tools do you have for coordinating with your partner and making sure everything gets done?