If you have a busy family that seems to be traveling in different directions constantly, you know how challenging it can be to coordinate everyone's schedules. Between projects and deadlines at the office, meetings with your children's teachers, after school activities like soccer practice and troop meetings, not to mention the household chores, it can be a dizzying and confusing task. But if each family member is committed and communicates effectively, the task of creating a combined family schedule is a manageable one for you.

The first step is to commit to weekly family meetings. Make it mandatory that each family member is there so that the schedule can be discussed and organized. This should also double as a great opportunity to schedule quality family time together, so make sure it's held at a time when everyone is able to attend.

Next, design a schedule that can be easily accessed by all family members, so that everyone knows where everyone else should be at any given time. This can be done by designing one yourself using materials such as poster board, markers, pushpins and index cards that can be pinned to the schedule, allowing for changes that can occur from week to week. It could also be designed on your family computer and saved onto the desktop, so each family member can readily access it and make changes if necessary. Have family members get into the habit of indicating on the schedule specific addresses or contact telephone numbers if the activity is new or changes from week to week. Be sure that care providers for your children such as grandparents and babysitters are familiar with your scheduling system and know how to use it.

Again, with a commitment from each family member and open lines of communication, the family schedule can be a useful tool for everyone.

The home office has slowly become the foundation of the modern day household. We pay the bills, organize recipe files and photo albums and develop calendars and schedules on our computers, and some of us make a living from here. With so many different activities happening here, it's easy to see how it can easily become the most disorganized and unkempt area of the home. A clean organized desk and home office can save time, stress and even money if we work from home. So if you're feeling overwhelmed by your messy desk and disorganized office, take a good hard look and see what's overwhelming your order the most.

Mail is probably the biggest contributing factor to our messy desktops. Get in the habit of dealing with your mail on a daily basis. Toss what you can, place those things that need to be shredded into a shredding bin and shred them once per week, and file the rest away properly. This might also be the time to update your filing system and make folders for current years or months.

Another culprit of office clutter is computer storage media such as CDs, DVDs and floppy disks. Take the time to ensure each is properly labeled and placed in a protective file or case. Categorize and alphabetize them for easy access.

If you have an office area that is commonly used by all family members, it can easily become cluttered with glasses, coffee cups, food wrappers and dirty dishes. Since computer equipment can easily be damaged should something spill on it, it's probably wise to impose a rule forbidding eating and drinking while using the computer. This would lessen the clutter at the same time. If you spend a considerable amount of time during the day in your office and your office space is large enough, provide for an area far from the computer and other electronic equipment where food and drink can be set without the fear of ruining equipment should a spill occur.

If you utilize a bulletin board, take the time to make sure all the items posted on it are current. If not, take them down and file away or toss. Make sure your calendar is always displaying the current month so you can see the month's activities and appointments in an easy glance.

Office supplies have a way of easily cluttering up our workspace as well. Take the extra time to clean out and organize desk drawers if necessary and make sure all office supplies have a home other than the top of your desk.

With some forethought, planning and discipline, your home office can become and stay productive, efficient and serene.