With a background in project management I can say with experience that managing a family is the most challenging project I have ever taken on. Like me, other working parents I know don’t have the time to sit at a home office desk and calmly get things done. Kids are constantly on the move and have obligations both near and far. To be fully productive as a mom, I need to sneak in work time while my kids are at school, attending after school events or with a sitter. Every small pocket of time during the day is valuable. Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium and Outlook are the key tools I use to manage my family project plan, giving me the flexibility to be productive no matter where I am. I use Outlook.com but since Outlook is included in Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium, it is a seamless and unified solution!
Check out the video that shows how I use the back seat of my minivan as one of my key productive spaces:
Where is your favorite place outside of the house to work on family tasks?
Other tips to have the perfect mobile office:
- SkyDrive and WiFi: Because I store my documents on SkyDrive, I know that I can access them wherever I am working, minivan included. To make sure I have WiFi on the go, I have a mobile broadband device with a month to month mobile WiFi plan. SkyDrive always maintains the latest version of my documents in the cloud, so I don’t need to worry about version control.
- SkyDrive Organization: I organize my documents with folders on SkyDrive. One of my folders is for homework including my kids’ math Excel spreadsheets, book report Word documents and history project PowerPoint presentations. Other folders have our family photos. The household management folder includes OneNote shopping lists, Word chore charts and household Excel spreadsheets to keep track of everything from home inventory to birthday party lists. In my writing folder I manage the Word files for my tech articles. Storing tech articles in Word using Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium and SkyDrive allows me to edit at home or on the go, and easily share a link to the document with my editors for document review. My public SkyDrive folder has pictures for my travel blogs that I share with my editor and in my blog posts.
- Set up a digital family calendar system: Our family uses Outlook to help keep track of our events. I individually color code activities on our Outlook calendar for each of our children (and for us – their parents. My color is purple!). I not only include appointments and events on the calendar, I also include reminders. One great example is summer camp signups. Some popular camps fill up within 2 hours of when online sign ups begin. To stay on top of this crazy schedule, I add “sign up for summer camp” as a calendar item, timed for 30 minutes before online signups start (so I can get ready). Using Windows 8 and Office 365 Home Premium means that I will have all the current documents needed for the signup with me wherever I might be. I even put a reminder in to schedule time with friends, vacations and sneak in a date night with my husband. When I want to make sure family members have the dates on their calendar, I set up the event and invite them to it. Outlook also allows me to keep up with my friends by displaying their social updates next to their email. Emails can be organized by categories or in folders with specific rules.
- Set up a mobile device cabinet or space: To make sure all the chargers and accessories stay organized and untangled, ready for their next adventure, each one has its own storage bag. For laptops and tablets, I buy a case that has enough room to put the chargers and accessories. I also put each charger and tech accessory in its own labeled storage bags. A Ziploc bag or pencil case will do but there is also a wide selection of storage bags available at office supply or storage stores. Yes, it may sound excessive, but it is a huge time saver and helps me keep things organized. Even when charging the device, the case is always close by. This simple process has greatly reduced time spent looking for lost accessories both at home and on the road.
How do you keep your digital files organized?