Family life seems to be getting more and more complex all the time. Too many places to be, chores to be done, and demands on our time and attention. Fortunately, there are many great tools available on the Web to help manage our family time and resources. From the most simple to the most robust, every family will find something here that will help them stay better organized and focused.
Google Calendar has a very simple interface and easy-to-use tools. It offers month, week, day views, as well as the ability to share it with others and to give different levels of permissions for different people. A nice added feature is the ability to create several individual calendars (like one for each of the kids) and then merge them into one by importing public calendars or private calendars whose owners give you permission. Different colors can define different calendars, so if you give each family member's calendar a special color, you can tell at a glance who needs to be where. It also has a nice interface for mobile devices. Google Calendar is free and a part of your overall Google account.
The Family Time Planner is a very flexible and colorful tool for your family calendar. Once you have a subscription, you can have unlimited usernames for family members and friends. And you can limit different usernames to only some parts of the calendar. You can interconnect Family Time Planner calendars with other families as needed. Family Time Planner also syncs with Microsoft Outlook. It is a fee-based system ($16 for the first year and $12 per year thereafter) but there are no advertisements, which for many is a good trade-off.
3. Cozi Central
Talk about full-featured! Cozi offers both a web-based and downloadable calendar system. The calendar includes a different colored tab for each family member and has a very simple and straightforward interface for entering information. Cozi also has a built-in family messaging system and shopping and to-do lists that family members can add to or change. You can also host your family journal or blog on Cozi Central. It syncs with Microsoft Outlook and also has a cell phone interface for accessing it from your Blackberry or Treo. Cozi Central is free to subscribers.
A part of My Yahoo, the Yahoo calendar has lots of great features. First, it is easy to manage and has quick options for adding appointments that don't need a lot of detail. And you can share the calendar with some friends and family members and give others rights to modify the calendar. Your friends do not have to be Yahoo members, so it can be flexible for both immediate and extended family. The whole My Yahoo suite including email, calendar, notepad, an address book and customized web portal is a free advertiser-supported service.
5. 30 Boxes
Bievo is another in this series of online calendars that can be adapted for family use. One of the things I like about Bievo is that it can integrate calendars from other groups and organizations. For example, if the soccer coach puts all of the games and practices on a Google Calendar, you can import the data directly into Bievo, and have it update when the coach makes changes due to rainout or whatever. Bievo also works seamlessly with your family members' smartphones, making it a very flexible and versatile tool.