Technology has a bad name in terms of family and relationships. It’s easy to see why: partners are checking their phones in bed and parents and kids alike constantly have eyes on screens instead of talking to those around them.
If used smartly, though, technology can actually improve our family time rather than encroaching on it.
Don’t believe me? Read on.
Use shared calendars
My husband and I share our Google Calendars so we don’t have to spend our meals and precious downtime organising plans and dealing with scheduling conflicts. Each of us can easily check the other person’s commitments and plan around them, without interrupting their day. One of the other advantages over a paper calendar is that you can schedule in recurring dates such as birthdays and regular commitments so you don’t have to copy them out every month.
Schedule your emails
If you’re like many creatives, you’re likely to be responding to business emails at odd hours as you juggle your work and family obligations. Unfortunately, if a client (or colleague) sees from your email that you’re working in the evening or on the weekend, they can take that as a green light that you’re available during these hours and expect calls to be taken and emails to be returned. If you do find yourself responding to emails while you wait for your Saturday morning hair appointment, schedule it to delay sending until Monday morning.
Schedule your updates
This is another one for business owners. Some people think they have to be online 24/7 to retain a presence on social media. Not true! Set aside a couple of hours one day a week to write all your blog posts for the week and one hour a day to prepare all your social media updates, then schedule them to go live whenever you wish, whether you’re going to be online or not. This is even more valuable when you want to take a family holiday or take a day off for your child’s sports carnival. You can enjoy your family time and know that you’re not falling behind online.
We have family and friends spread out all over the world, and long distance calls aren’t cheap! Thankfully we now have things like Skype, Facetime, and Google Hangouts. We have regular Hangouts with my brother overseas; it costs nothing and it really does feel like you’re actually with them, unlike with a phone call.
Share your memories
Okay, so there’s nothing like getting a family photo in the mail and immediately putting it on your fridge. But let’s face it: how often do we actually do that? I use Dropbox to share high-res photos from family gatherings, weddings, and holidays with my friends and family. Much quicker than printing and mailing everyone, plus the bonus is that it acts as a backup for your precious memories.
Automate your finances
Every time I see someone at the post office paying individual bills in cash, I want to shake them! Paying your bills online — or better yet, automating the transactions — is a huge time saver every month. It doesn’t mean paying everything upfront, either; you can schedule the payments for after payday to even out your cashflow. Using a cloud-based accounting system (such as Outright or Xero) will further streamline your budgeting, meaning you can get back to the things you really want to be doing.
An app for everything!
These examples are just the tip of the technology iceberg. You’ll find time saving apps for planning your meals, organising your next holiday, shopping for the best deals, and anything else you can think of (and even plenty of things you wouldn’t have thought of!).
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So long, farewell…
After much thought, this will be my last regular post for Scoutie Girl. I have thoroughly enjoyed Tooling Around with you, but it’s time for me to move on to explore other opportunities. I hope this is a fitting final post and that you will keep in mind how you can use some tech tweaks to make your home and work life easier.