Don't Do the Dishes: Scheduling Challenges

Figuring out a Collective Calendar

Ask the coach...

Q. What's the easiest way for a family to manage its collective calendar -- system must be fully reliable but with the management of same not taking up someone's (read: mom's) whole day and attention. My only child is not yet three and not yet in school, and I'm having heart palpitations about getting something effective in place before school throws a whole new layer of complications onto us.

My husband does all his calendaring online, I have an old-fashioned paper date book, and we have a wall calendar in the kitchen that is supposed to be the master planner for events/trips that involve the whole family. However, if husband is at work he might accept for an event without having seen the kitchen calendar, if he's at home he might accept something I mention to him without having seen his online calendar, and I don't always enter things onto the kitchen calendar right away because my datebook is really my go-to reference.

A. Well, assuming you’re not a complete technophobe (if you are, you gotta get help with that, because the beauty of new technology is that its designed to make these very issues easier to deal with) you can open a Google account and share calendars online. (There are other systems, I’m sure, but that’s the one I use and know.) This way, you and your fella are looking at one and the same calendar at the office, at home or wherever you can take a Smartphone or a laptop (so you can cross-reference with the old-school, more visual and constantly in-your-face one hanging in the kitchen, or that precious datebook of yours should you want the added insurance of a hard-copy… which is not a bad idea.

You can even color-code each calendar! It will take a bit of tinkering on both your parts at first, but its well worth the time and aggravation saved in the long run. Going into the particulars is beyond the scope of this column, so do it together with your hubby and schedule something rewarding to do immediately afterward. Alternately, you could grab a geeky friend or someone’s kid and have them show you how to do it. This has saved my life because, like you, like all of us, I’m juggling tens of thousands of things each day, as is my spouse. I have a calendar for my son, for Life/self-care, for Vacation, for Bills due, for Richard (my husband), if you have a place out of town you rent out you can include one for that and call it ‘Beach House’ or whatever…in fact I’m so swift I have a scheduling program for my coaching practice that’s linked to our Google calendar, and clients can just go in there and book their own appointments (at hours I’ve designated for work, of course. For anyone who wants to take a look, go to

But I digress (See? Juggling.) Like I was saying, every area of your life shows up at once, in one place in all these fabulous different colors. When you’re sharing calendars both parties can add or make changes while staying fully informed…

However, what to do if you are a committed technophobe (like my husband)? Well, then the family geek should set up said calendar and share via an electronic invitation to their partner’s email address anytime a change is made, and then the, loved-one, gets the memo…I mean email…

And yes, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. We can’t micromanage everything, like whether the geek sends the email or the recipient reads it SOOOO…

Nothing replaces the old-fashioned pow-wow. Or as I like to call it, Ye Olde Family Meeting. Even if you take my advice on electronic calendar sharing, it’s a good idea to have a regular business meeting. It’s amazing how efficient spending a half-hour face to face going over a circumscribed matter such as scheduling can be. This should be a disciplined conversation where people actually take turns having the floor, there should be no cross-talk and in some cases, a kitchen timer may be useful so that the person talking knows they have the space to work things through (many of us, myself included, are verbal thinkers.) The changes agreed to and scheduled in this meeting should be considered confirmed until you face-off again. And if someone accidentally double-books, well, they’re the one who gets to clean it up.

Please let me know if any of this helps, and if anyone else has a tip to share regarding this VERY universal challenge, by all means do tell, and I’ll see that it gets posted!


Rahti Gorfien, founder of Creative Calling Coaching, is a Life Coach whose practice is primarily comprised of group and individual sessions for artist and freelancers, and while her client roster includes artists of all persuasions, she specializes in those that are parents. She also coaches adults with ADHD, their spouses, and parents of children diagnosed with ADHD.

As a mother who coaches other moms, she believes that balancing domestic responsibility with vocational goals is a crucial component of our ability to connect to, and be present with our families. www.creativecallingcoaching.comPH: 917 804-9572 You can hear her every week on Radio Rahti AKA Making It: A Show for Creative Thinkers and Doers at: