Advertising
Advertising

4 Essential Tips for Managing the Family Calendar

4 Essential Tips for Managing the Family Calendar


    We fill our days and hours with activities, not only for ourselves but also for our family. It can be a challenge to keep all of these commitments straight. A family calendar is just the answer.

    If you’re just getting started with using a family calendar — or need to up your game with the one you’re currently using — here are 4 essential tips to manage it.

    Advertising

    Paper vs. Electronic

    You will find both paper and electronic calendars can fit in well in your household. In fact, I recommend you use both.

    An electronic calendar will give you the reminders you need. For example, we generally only go to the dentist twice a year so a reminder that the appointment we scheduled 6 months ago is coming is very handy.

    A paper calendar in a central location helps the entire family quickly see what the schedule for tomorrow or the upcoming week is. Those young enough not to have an electronic calendar of their own will start to get used to using the calendar to see upcoming events.

    Advertising

    If you use Google for your electronic family calendar, check out these planning tips.

    Where to Put Your Calendar

    Use a paper calendar with lots of space to write down appointments for the whole family. Place it in a central meeting area. Often the kitchen will be the best location. Choose a spot every family member can easily access — remember not everyone is as tall as you are. It will be easier to manage the family calendar when everyone is an active participant.

    Keep a holder for pens and pencils (and even stickers) nearby. Stickers will help keep your kids engaged with the calendar. Have them add stickers for birthdays, days when they don’t have to go to school, and maybe even when they complete a day with especially good behavior.

    Advertising

    What Should Go on the Calendar

    Add the usual birthdays and anniversaries first; these can be written in pen as they won’t change. Use pencil to then note any appointments. Be sure to note the time and initials of the family member the appointment is for.

    Have a lot of details for the appointment? The best way to manage the family calendar and get all the details is to add extra information to the electronic version of the calendar. It is easy to list the who, what, where, when and why on the electronic calendar. Link the appointment to the relevant website for additional information and a contact listing to avoid having to retype the address and phone number for a future appointment.

    Keep Your Calendars in Sync

    If you have trouble keeping your paper and electronic calendars in sync, create a routine to check them. Make every Sunday night after dinner a time the family reviews the paper calendar to see what is coming up for the week ahead. At this time make sure all of the information is added to the electronic calendar and vice versa. Be sure to ask each member of the family if they have plans or dates that should be added to the calendar as well.

    Advertising

    Make this a fun family time by having a special dessert or beverage that is served during this time — and this time only. You should also consider adding other items to your family weekly review.

    How can you better manage the family calendar?

    (Photo credit: Circling Important Calendar Date via Shutterstock)

      More by this author

      50 Simple Questions to Ask to Get to Know Someone Deeply Best Ways To Spend Your Thanksgiving Weekend This Year How to Create a Secure Password That You’ll Always Remember 20 Brilliant Self-Help Books You Need To Read How To Select Reading And Entertainment That Enriches Your Life

      Trending in Productivity

      1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

      Advertising

      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

      Advertising

      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

      The Neurology of Ownership

      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

      Advertising

      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

      Advertising

      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

      More About Goals Setting

      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next