Sunday, January 31, 2016

Family Meeting Hardware.

There are a few core pieces of accessories that support my family meeting.  I thought it'd be useful to detail what they are and how we use each.

1. Notebook

We've cycled through lots of different notebooks and tasks lists, the general idea is a place for each family member to keep their to do list for the week.  Mine, unsurprisngly, is much more invovled and complicated.  It also changes every few years.  For a while, I kept my lists electronically.  Currently I'm using an ARC notebook from staples.  I love that I can rearrange the pages.  Each week I start a fresh list.  My hsuband prefers a simple spiral notebook.  It doesn't matter what kind of system you use, but sticking with one will be incredibly helpful.  For example, make either your electronic or paper list your 'master' list.  In my experience trying to maintain both is a recipe for things getting left off or falling through the cracks. 

2. Clipboard

Our clipboard serves as our 'family' lists for the week.  For a while, we kept both of our tasks lists on it as well, but ultimately the personal notebook system worked better, not least of all because we found that each person making their own list, even if we agreed on what should be on it, made it much more likely things would be completed that week.  Now, our clipboard maintains lists we all need access to for the week; for example a list of errands, shopping list, discussion lists for the next meeting, a list of current 'projects' and misc notes.  As much as I love forms (I really love forms) creating a form for this sheet has always been unsuccessful.  For us, this sheets needs to be incredibly flexible each week.  Still, because I'm to embarrased to share our actual clipboard sheet, I made a quick sketch up of how we currently use it.

In case you are skim reading, I don't actually use this sheet.  I use a blank piece of colored paper that approximates this.  I switched to colored paper to make it easier to find the sheet if it happens to get shuffled into a pile of paper.  I keep it on a clipboard to prevent it from getting lost and to make it easier to make notes on it.  I've tried hanging in, but it was too hard to write.

I'll breifly cover the categoties:

1. Notes

This is where we make random notes from phone calls or anything else.  If it has no further action, we strike it out.  I also tend to use the back of the sheet for this purpose.

2.  Discuss List

This is the area where we write things we need to discuss at the next meeting.  It might be an argument we postponed, something from our to do list we need to verify, or a funny story we don't want to forget to share.  If we have time to talk about it during the week, we strike it out, but if it's in this section, we can be confident we won't forget about it.

3. Projects

We try to keep our number of 'active' family projects to 5 or less.  This is where we list them so we know what we are working on as a family.

4. Zone (More details on Zones here)

This is where we write the house zone for the week.  We have our house divided into 6 zones.  We keep a separate list of the activities for each zone.  Organizing our chores like this has made it much easier to get to annoying tasks like cleaning the inside of the dishwasher, scrubbing the trash cans or doing the shredding.  

5. Errands & 6. Shopping Lists

These categories are pretty self explanatory. 

3. Family Binder

My family binder houses everything we need for our meeting and other things we might need to reference.  I'm a big fan of electronic files, but I still find it useful to keep these things accessible. I often think of how beautiful someone with more of a design vew could make their binder, but mine primarily reflects my preference for functionality.  Although I do have photos on the front! See?

1. Calendars

In this section I keep a sheet with every birthday, anniversary, and holiday that we celebrate in our family or for which we send cards and gifts.  We also keep any hard copy calendars we have (dance studio, preschool, work holidays, etc).  Even though I put all of that information in my google calendars, I still keep the hard copies here.

2. Goals

Each year when we set our goals, we determine the frequency we will check in with them.  I make a one page (front and back) sheet for each member of our family and we check off what we accomplished each week at the family meeting.

3. To Do lists/Projects

This is where we keep a list of all of the projects we'd like to eventually complete as a family.  This includes home improvement, future vacations and service projects.  When we complete a project, we look here and decide what we want to tackle next. 


I maintain our budget electronically, but each year I put a hard copy of our budget and goals in this category for us to reference if necessary.  It also has a list of major bills and due dates (particularly things like insurance, property tax, etc)

5.Wish Lists/shopping lists.

Each member of our family has a wish list.  We add things we want to purchase.  We also keep a list of things we might want but we are still thinking about.  This has helped us be much more intentional with our purchases.  

6. Chores/Zone tasks

In this section I keep a list of the responsibilities for each house 'zone'.  I'll post more on this soon.

7. Contacts.

I printed out a copy of our Christmas Card list and stuck it in. If I get a change of address during the year, I update the list and it's available for anyone to reference if they have something that needs mailed. 

8.  Miscellaneous 

This section has packing lists, babysitter emergency information and other hard to categorize information that we need frequently enough to justify it being in our binder.

I hope this information has been useful and I'd love your feedback or tips on how you keep your family running smoothly!

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