Whether you’re addicted to sticking reminders on the bathroom mirror or scribbling errands on a chalkboard, we all have systems for organizing family life. Thanks to smart phones and tablets, it’s easy to keep to-do lists, photos, and social media accounts in one place. Read on to find six tips for saving time and sanity by streamlining all of those calendars, addresses, and emails.

Organize your Email.
If your email account is as untamed as a teenager’s closet, it’s time to try sorting messages. Embracing a folder system will make it a lot easier to find that email from months back about preschool snack restrictions or the time of your kid’s next play date. Programs like Outlook allow you to file messages straight into assigned folders the moment they arrive in your inbox. It’s like direct deposit for email.

Assign Colors to Your Calendar.
If you’re not careful, tracking soccer games, dance recitals, and dinner with the in-laws can become a part-time job. If you respond well to visuals, try assigning color codes to different event categories or family members on your calendar. Doing so makes it easier to scan weekly work, home, and family responsibilities at a glance.

Make your Files Portable.
Just because you hit the road for the holidays or take a family vacation to the coast doesn’t mean you have to leave important documents on your desktop. If you’re clocking hours from a virtual office while you’re on the go, consider ways to store and share documents on the web. Free programs like Windows Live SkyDrive keep up to 25 gigs of files online. YouSendIt allows you to mail up to 100 MB of images and documents to co-workers or family, too.

You’ve Got that Smart Phone. Now Use It.
Explore the dozens of apps that save time so you can spend more of it with your kids. Budget Buddy tracks spending and Expensify helps working moms create expense reports. There’s also Top Task List. The organizational app is like having a virtual personal assistant. 

Wrangle Images in One Fell Swoop.
Kids give us a hundred photo ops every day, but all those images from birthdays, school plays, and camping trips can live in a lot of different places. Luckily, programs like Windows Photo Gallery import photos from digital cameras and remove them from memory cards to free up more room to say “cheese.” The program also makes it easy to flip, crop, and re-size images, then share them on Facebook.

Keep Your Tablet at the Ready.
When you decide your kiddo is ready for some screen time, take advantage of apps and programs that educate as well as entertain. If you want to limit the access your child has to the personal files on your smart phone or tablet, be sure to enable programs that only let kids access specific games, songs, and videos. Learn how to best use your tablet and get your kiddos involved with technology in an educational and fun way by attending a Microsoft Tech Tots class. These classes for parents and their kiddos ages 2-5 are a great hands-on way to explore technology together. Plus, they only last about an hour for the attention-challenged.

Do you have any secret tech tools that you’d like to share with our readers? Tell us about your tips for staying organized and up-to-date below. 

— Sara Billups

Photo credit: Gail Jade Hamilton via Flickr