Just in time for the back-to-school season, Tech Talker focuses on 4 great ways technology can help keep your family organized and connected.
Hey, everyone! So, last week I covered some really useful ways to use tech if you’re going off to college. This week, I thought I’d focus on families that still have kids living under their roof, and offer them some great ways to help keep the family organized and connected, as school starts back up..
First, there is the schedule. If you’re a parent with at least one child, I’m sure you know all too well the craziness that ensues when trying to keep both your own calendar and the school calendar updated. Luckily, I’m here to tell you that this problem is an extremely easy one to fix, if you have just a couple minutes of spare time.
The solution first requires you to create a Google account. If you have a Gmail account, then perfect--you’re already set. But if you don’t, it takes about 3 minutes to sign up, and you can do so using your own email.
Once you have a Google account, then check out your Google Calendar. On the surface, it may seem just like any other calendar you’ve ever seen: you can add all sorts of events that repeat, email and text reminders to yourself, and send out invitations to other people.
This is the backbone of your scheduling system. From here, you’ll create Google accounts for each of your family members, and then you’ll simply share your calendars with each of these accounts. This will give everyone in your family acess to his or her own personal calendar, as well as your shared “family” calendar.
I chose Google calendar for this task because it syncs with almost every device on the market, you can easily access it from the web, and a ton of people already have an account with Google.
Once you’ve set this calendar up, anyone can add events to it, and it will stay synced across all devices and with all family members. It will even sync your appointment reminder settings. You can also include notes, times, directions, pictures--you name it! This is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page. And it’s free.
One Number to Ring them All
This next tip involves setting up a Google Voice account. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a service that Google provides that allows you some pretty awesome phone calling features.
Essentially, they give you a Google Voice phone number that anyone can call. From there, you can have your Google Voice number set to forward any calls to your cell phone, office phone, home phone--you name it.
I created a Google Voice account which is set to forward my Google Voice number to all of my other phones. I then give out this number to family and friends as an emergency number to use if they need to get a hold of me. They can call that number, and through the magic of Google Voice, all of the phones I’ve linked to my account will ring. If I happen to be at work, I can pick up that phone and start talking, just like always.
Whether I’m at home or on the go, all of those numbers will ring until I pick one of them up. What’s beautiful about this is that I can limit what numbers call me, and what numbers get sent straight to voicemail, and--best of all--if someone needs to contact me, they can always do so using one number, and one number only.
If you’re a parent, this is great. Just give your child’s school your single Google Voice number. From there, you can manually update all of the other numbers that will ring on your Google Voice account. That way, as numbers change, you can just update your Google Voice account, and you don’t have to worry about giving your child’s coach, school, dance teacher, and tutor all new numbers. One number, all of your phones--it’s pretty awesome!