Ready, Set, Run Like HellPosted: September 1, 2011
My kids are heading back to school next week and I am doing the happy dance. For one thing, that’s seven hours a day that they won’t have access to the fridge. Plus, I won’t be the only one getting up at the butt crack of dawn. (Misery loves company.) But that joy will be short-lived because it also means the craziness of daily life is about to get a lot crazier. You can keep it from spinning out of control with a little planning. As the late, great John Wooden said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get crackalackin’!
Pregame plan of attack
The first thing to do is to draft a plan of attack because the time to prepare for success is now. So, gather up all the information you can get your hands on–the game and practice schedule, contact lists, school calendar, important family dates–grab your planner and map out victory with these tips.
Paper or Plastic?
Do you like a printed sheet of paper or do you put everything in your Blackberry, iPhone or on your computer? Either way, you need to get a system for organizing things. We do a little bit of both at our house. I have an expanding poly file folder color coded for each kid. Inside the folder, I’ve labeled tabs for action items (things that need immediate attention), school, religious formation, Scouts, medical stuff and tabs for each sport. Every paper goes in there so if I’m looking for a copy of the health form or roster, I know right where to find it.
Remember when people said computers would make our lives easier? Here’s a way to do all that paper organizing on the computer. Create a folder for each kid, then a sub folder for each activity. When you get email attachments, download and save them to the appropriate folder. You can also go completely paperless by scanning the handouts and filing them on the computer. Want to go one step further? Use that crazy new-fangled Internet thingy and upload those files to the cloud. Then, you can access them from home, from work, from your laptop or any web connection. You can give your spouse permissions to access them also and spread the joy. If you want to do this in baby steps, try using Google docs and see how it works out for you.
You’ve got mail
When you are involved with a team, your email inbox will overflow quickly. Lots of Really Important Information is sent out by coaches and managers every day and some idiot will “Reply All” to every single one of them. Before you know it, you have 417 emails with the subject line of “UPDATED TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE!!!!” Add in all your other email and, wow. So use that nifty folder idea we just talked about to manage your email. Create a file in your email client inbox for each team and then save the truly important team communications in those folders and delete the rest. It won’t clog up your inbox and you’ll be able to quickly differentiate between the soccer UPDATED TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE!!!! and the softball UPDATED TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE!!!! emails.
As you’ve probably learned by now, it’s not who you know, it’s who you can get hold of. Take that team roster and start entering all those names and cell phone numbers into your phone. Not just your coach and manager. Everyone. When you are lost, at the wrong field, or just realized that your daughter left her skates at home but Brendan’s mom has his brother’s equipment bag in her car if you could just reach her, you’ll need those phone numbers.
Bookmark it, Dano
Does your team or league have a website? Fantastic. Use your web browser to bookmark it so you can find it quickly. Share that bookmark with Grandma and Grandpa or other family fans so they can follow along. If they’ve got an RSS feed on the calendar like our team does, all the better. Subscribe and you’ll be notified when something is updated.
Now that you are all organized, it’s time to put stuff on the calendar. No matter what kind of calendar you use–Crackberry, Outlook, paper–the process is the same. First, put in all the school stuff like dates for tests, band concerts and holidays. Then enter all the important family dates, like Uncle Mike’s wedding and Grandma’s 60th birthday party. Put in the religious formation, scout meetings, etc. Last, start filling in the sports things. Include registration dates, practices, games, tournaments, playoffs–everything you can possibly fill in. Then cry. No! Just kidding. Look for the conflicts and let the coach know that your player will be taking the ACT test in October and unavailable. Or attending a mandatory choir concert. Or whatever. Coaches like to know things in advance, too.
You are now planned for success! Whew, that sounds like a lot and, it is. But the time spent here will pay off big later. And it’s easy to squeeze in some of these tasks, like updating your phone contacts, while your player is at practice or you’re waiting at the pediatrician’s office. So get your game plan together and start charting those dates and entering those phone numbers. You’ll be glad you did.
For some more organization tips, check out Sandy’s blog. Leave some of your own favorite tips in the comments.