Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Aug 7, 2007

Online tools for working women part two: Online calendars

Every working woman needs a way to stay on top of things. The working mom and wife is likely to be managing the entire household so accessing her family's schedules from anywhere can help her feel connected and in control. In my search for the Enterprise household management software suite, Ms. Minchin has tested some of the leading online calendar/scheduling products. Unfortunately, none of these meet all of my requirements, but there is hope that they will evolve into more useful tools for family management.


Cozi central: (free) Provides family calendar and shopping list creation. Each family member has their own tab/color and you can view an overall rollup calendar. You can easily assign tasks to others, like when I need Brad to drop off the kids at school. It also tracks shopping lists and makes it easy to type messages to send to Brad's cell phone. There is a downloadable version as well as a web-only version (the web-only version does not have all the features though). You can personalize it with family pictures, and for some reason it will create a screen saver for you of family pictures if you choose to let it.
Cozi also has a helpful blog that covers topics of interest to household managers/moms.

I wish this tool did a lot more such as including a to-do list, automatically sending reminders via email or text message, and of course all the other items in the Enterprise family management suite. It doesn't let you change the calendar view from monthly to weekly to daily, but a recent survey they sent out to users indicates this is one of the areas they are considering for future updates.

UX: It has a nice clean user interface, with warm colors, easy to navigate.
Cool feature: can send shopping list as a text message to Brad's cell phone, or request it via your own phone when you are in the store and realize you have forgotten your list.
Drawbacks: the Outlook synchronizing tool is in beta and froze during the installation.

Google calendar: (free) Provides an online calendar you can share. It has a nice natural entry of appointments/events. Just click on the calendar and type the information into a box (e.g. "Dinner with Brad at Anaconda @ 8pm). You can also overlay public calendars such as local events or Netflix releases. Why it doesn't work for me: I first create a calendar and then invite my hubby Brad to view it. Brad then has to create a Google account to participate, create his own calendar and then grant me access to view his. That's like asking him to go clothes shopping with me and then paint my toenails while I tell him about the way I'm going to organize the pantry.

Another cool thing about Google calendar is that it can be used as a widget in other tools such as a wiki site or Google desktop. (I haven't yet figured out how to keep it logged in to my account however, so I constantly see a blank calendar in my google desktop sidebar.)

UX: It has the simple, spare UI that Google is known for. Nothing offensive.
Cool features: Can send reminders to your cell phone.
Drawbacks: Not designed for my purposes, therefore unwieldy for family scheduling. Also, doesn't synchronize with Outlook - you have to manually import a calendar file.

30 boxes: (free) A shared calendar tool that was designed with social networking in mind. Allows you to share your whole calendar with buddies, or pick and choose which aspects to share with which buddies by using tags. When you invite a buddy to share your calendar, 30 boxes retrieves web information about your buddy for you such as Flickr photos and MySpace updates. It also has to-do list functionality, and incorporates the weather forecast into the upcoming week.

UX: Simple but grey UI. There are some options for changing the color.
Cool features: addresses entered into the calendar will generate a google map.
Drawbacks: Not designed for my purposes.

Scrybe: I wish I could try this!! Still in invitation-only beta. This product puts all online calendar and collaboration products to shame. It has an amazing user interface, productivity features such as side-by-side time zone support and to-do lists and an innovative "thought stream" feature. The thoughtstream feature creates a nicely formatted brainstorm/planning stream with photos, hyperlinks, document links, and text. I can't do justice to this, you just have to watch the video. It will rock your world.

Reminder service:
Ping me (free) is worth a mention here. It's a new online tool that allows you to set up reminders to send to your email or via text message to your phone. Interesting idea and could be useful for remembering future occurrences such as renewing your car registration or anniversary shopping. You can also send reminders to others.

What tools do you use to keep your family organized? Please share!

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