Time Management Guide for Busy Families

If you’re like most families whose members are running here and there, you may be wondering how to keep your head on straight while you try to get everyone where the need to go when they need to be here. You know there has to be a better way to manage everyone in the family’s schedules without losing your mind.

Time management for families is important, perhaps now more than ever before. With family members going in a multiple of directions each day, your family really can’t afford not to consider time management. By using some of these time management techniques, it can make a huge difference in how your home is run, how stressful your home is, and how much time you have available to spend as a family rather than everyone running late to their respective activities.

It’s important to note that time management for families and team work go hand-in-hand. The sooner your family realizes the parents can’t do everything around the home, as well as running the children from place to place, the sooner your family’s life will improve.

There are many ways you can begin to implement time management skills in your home, but it’ll take your entire family to make it work. Where do you begin?

Know your family’s activities

You can’t improve the way your family’s household runs if you’re not sure where your family members are supposed to be each day. So, your starting point is to gather a few items:

* Each family member regardless of how old they are
* A large, new calendar with spaces you can write in
* The calendar you currently use to keep track of appointments
* Any papers your children may have brought home with important dates on them
* A pencil, pen, and possibly markers for color coding
* Paper to take notes
* Any individual calendars your family may keep

Once you have the above items gathered together and you’re ready to work on getting your family better organized, it’s important to not be interrupted. You may not get another chance to accomplish this task; ask someone to be sure the answering machine is on so it can catch any calls that come in. Try to disregard the phone until this part of your time management planning is complete. If the telephone call is important, they’ll call you back or leave a message that can be returned later.

Give everyone a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. Ask them to write down every activity they’re involved in. This includes time at school, work, and commute time. Have them write down regularly scheduled meetings, practices, lessons, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, or weekly religious activities if your family has them. Younger children may need someone to help them complete this task but they shouldn’t have many activities that another family member isn’t involved.

Next, go through each person’s individual calendar to see if any appointments were missed. Write these down on that person’s list. After you’re sure you have everyone’s planned activities written down, it’s time to look at papers you may have kept with important dates on them. Add those appointments to the respective lists.

Instead of writing everything on the new calendar right away, you might want to start a list for each day during the month: first Sunday, first Monday, first Tuesday, first Wednesday, first Thursday, first Friday, first Saturday, second Sunday, second Monday, second Tuesday, and so on for each of the days of the month.

Go through each person’s list and write the meetings, appointments, or normal activities on each corresponding page. This accomplishes two things:  1) it allows you to see what activities are scheduled on the same days so you can decide who will be responsible for transporting people, and 2) it allows you to decide if there are too many activities planned for any particular day.

Another thing you might want to do before transferring information to the large calendar is to assign each person a particular color – use their favorite color unless two people like the same color. If you color code your family with their activities, it will be easier for each person to see at a glance if they have an activity on a particular day.

After you have all appointments, meetings, activities, and normal daily events listed on the daily pages, it’s time to start putting them on the large calendar. Use the color coding system if you’ve chosen to do that.

Set aside a central location for everyone in the family to place papers with future important dates on them so they can be added to the family calendar. This will make over scheduling a thing of the past because you’ll be able to see quickly if there’s already something else planned for that time on a particular day.

Get Everyone Involved

It’s amazing how having a master calendar with everyone in your family’s activities in one central place can be freeing. Updating it as needed affords you an opportunity to think about things a little closer to home. You know how much time each person has at home and which days they’re at home so now it’s time to think about chores.

Before everyone heads off into myriad directions, you may want to approach the subject of your house and making sure it runs smoothly. Today people don’t follow traditional roles quite as much as in the past. Men can cook and clean just as well, if not better, than some women. Some women have a green thumb and thrive at keeping the lawn manicured. With this in mind, there’s no reason why the adults in the family should be responsible for keeping the house clean and organized.

There are enough things to be done in any home to allow each person to chip in. Not only will having children help take care of the household chores train them for the future, it will give the parents in the family much-needed help. They may actually be able to enjoy some relaxation during the weekend rather than spending both days cleaning up after a long week.

If you look on the internet or in parenting books, you can find a list of chores children can do at different ages. Even toddlers at 2 or 3 are able to help. They can learn to pick up their toys and put dirty clothes in a hamper. Obviously the older the child, the more skills they should be able to master.

Perhaps you’ve never asked your children to help with chores before. Don’t despair, it’s not too late! You may have to start by showing your child how to do a particular chore, but before long they’ll be doing that chore on their own without your supervision. Of course, the younger you start expecting your children to help, the fewer problems there are likely to be as they get older.

Take the pen and paper back out and talk with your family about household chores. Make a list of all chores your family can think of. Include outside and inside activities as well as chores that would be seasonal. There are many home organization books you can either purchase or find at the library which might give you a list of typical chores. You can also look on the internet at home organization websites. They may even have free printable chore lists to make this task much easier. Go through the list and assign chores. Each person should have several depending upon the size of your family. You can create a weekly schedule for each person in the family, if you’re so inclined, so they know what activities they have for the week, when you expect them to do chores, and when they have free time. Of course, this isn’t a requirement, but it may make the transition from being time challenged to having your family’s time managed.

How can you encourage everyone in your family to do their share of the household chores? Here are some things you can do to make doing chores less of a dreaded task:

  1. Make doing chores fun, especially for younger children. Have a race to see who can pick up the most toys out of the floor in five minutes. Ask them to pick up only items that are green and you pick up items that are red. Count to see who picked up the most items and give a small prize such as a piece of chewing gum.
  2. Make sure your family knows how. If you’ve never expected your children to help keep the house clean, it’s unlikely they’ll know how. Take the time to teach them how to clean the refrigerator before leaving them to do it on their own.
  3. Follow up. You must check on their work.
  4. Make sure there are consequences if the chores don’t get done.

Setting priorities

You’ve come quite a ways with your time management for your family. They know what they’re doing each day by looking at the calendar. They are helping you around the house so you’re not doing everything. Now it’s time to think about teaching your family about priorities.

Prioritizing tasks and activities each day can help you avoid being overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated. By learning to prioritize, you and your family can determine what is most important to get done right away and what can be put off until a later time or date.


You know the time will come when you’ll be waiting with your child for a doctor’s appointment. Instead of sitting there mindlessly reading a magazine, you can use that time to accomplish something. Go over your calendar to see if it’s up-to-date, plan your menu for the next week and then make a shopping list.

If you’re sitting during your child’s sports practice, you can make telephone calls you’ve been putting off. You can also write a letter to a friend who doesn’t have the internet. Commuting time is another opportunity to multi-task if you take a cab, bus, or train. It’s amazing how much you can get done while you’re waiting.

Turn Media off

Most families don’t realize how much time they spend sitting in front of one screen or another. You may spend 6 to 8 hours a day sitting in front of the computer for work. Then you go home and watch television while you check your personal email. This goes back to priorities and deciding what is more important to you.

Sure, you and your family can watch particular programs you may enjoy, but that doesn’t mean you leave the television going after the show is over. Instead of spending the little family time you have in front of the TV set, why not plan a family game night?

Drag out the family’s favorite board games and set it up. If you don’t have any card games or board games, or the ones you do have are for toddlers, you might want to start a new collection. Playing games as a family enables you to bond while having fun. It also keeps the communication lines open with your children, no matter what age they are.

Set family goals

Goal setting as a family is a foreign concept for most families. The parents may be aware of setting goals for business, but they may not have considered setting goals as a family. What types of goals would you like to meet as a family?

Life is precious. Each day you’re given 24 hours to spend as you see fit. You can squander your time on things that aren’t important, or you can start setting family goals you can work on together.

Have you dreamed of a week-long vacation at an exotic destination? Your family can make that dream a reality if you start planning for it. What types of goals would you make to reach that goal?

Working together as a family isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time for everyone to get used to the changes you’ve made. It’s important to remember you’re only given a certain amount of time each day. Choose to make the most of the time you have while you still can!

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  1. Heather @ CSAHM on August 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Time management is a bit of an issue with me. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Faith_Mom on August 3, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    You are most welcome. :)

  3. Melissa Multitasking Mama on August 3, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Great tips! I would add that it is important to make sure all the busyness and activities we tend to commit ourselves to are necessary. When you are making your schedule, etc. it is good to go ahead and purge the commitments that aren’t in line with your families priorities and goals.

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