I asked last week for your recommendations for an on-line family organization system for the FriedOkra gang, and you delivered! I spent time last week exploring and comparing options and have finally settled on cozi.com (recommended by Glennen) because it has all of the features we need, plus a few more, which I now need, because what would I do without them?!
What do I love about cozi.com? Hang on, I'm about to tell you.
So far, I'm using only the free on-line product and the free app for my iPhone. cozi.com offers an upgrade that gives families access to an advertisement-free version with few additional features for about $50 a year or $5 a month. I may upgrade in the months ahead, once I know I'm in this for the long haul, but since the ads don't bug me and I'm happy with the free features so far, I'm not immediately inclined to upgrade.
It's intuitive and easy.
I needed my new system to click and make sense to me without a ton of reading and referencing and ramping up time, and that's what I got with cozi. Everything works together in a way that feels intuitive to me and I was up and running in just a few minutes. All of the actions are quick and easy to complete. For example, I can click on a day on my calendar and enter an appointment for the entire family (using the presets you're walked through creating when you set up your account), one of us, or any combination of us in about 15 seconds.
And like iCal on my Mac, I can set recurrences of said event or appointment at the same time I'm creating the first occurrence, complete with reminders to be emailed or texted to Al or me. Unlike iCal, I find scheduling times and dates is easy on cozi's pop-up appointment screen. There's no scrolling or dialing around for dates and times because they're presented an easy-to- click (even on my phone with my crazy fingers) grid formation that I've never seen before - but already love to the moon and back - so I can punch in dates and times like lightening, down to the fifteen minute interval.
See how easy that looks? Bing, bam, boom, DONE.
It's integrated like WHOA.
This is Outlook on speed. Well, actually I'll be honest, I haven't used Outlook since I left career-life behind 8 years ago, but this is THAT Outlook on speed. Al and I can enter updates on our cozi.com family planner via any computer using our family username and password. Anywhere we have access to a computer, we have access to our family's life at a glance. Including our phones. Dad and Mom are always able to on the same page, no matter where we else we might be.
All updates sync constantly and instantaneously. For example, yesterday I was at my computer in the office while Al was sitting out on the front porch watching the kids play. I was planning the week ahead and remembered that Al has a business trip coming up, so I called out the window to him and asked him to put it on our calendar using his phone. Within about 30 seconds, his trip appeared on the calendar on my desktop computer, complete with dates, times and locations. Technology kismet, y'all. Al may or may not have gotten lucky because of this. Did I mention Al likes cozi.com? He likes it a lot.
As we set up events in the calendar, we can also set up reminders and alerts that go to our phones or our email. (And to our kids' phones, when they graduate from high school and get jobs so they can pay for them. Hee.) So for example, I add a event for Bean's dance class on Monday night. I need Al to pick her up on his way home from work, so set that as a reminder to be sent to his phone a couple of hours in advance and presto! Dad remembers to pick up his daughter and doesn't leave her standing alone on the sidewalk in front of the dance academy, ballet bag over one shoulder and tear-dampened tissue in another.
It's crazy-much more than a calendar.
Cozi also makes it easy to create and manage on-going schedules, to-do lists, meal plans and shopping lists.
Yep. Right there in the same spot, cozi gives me a place to create schedules for carpooling, extra-curricular activities and for me, an editorial calendar for the blog. These items appear on the family calendar as well as a handy event-by-event list filed under the schedule's name - so you can go in and edit one schedule and update the whole calendar with the changes. Oh hallelujah, y'all.
I can also create, assign and update to-do lists for anyone in the family (evil grin). Once I've made the lists, I can email, text or print them out for the right person to refer to and complete under penalty of death. Ahem. And I get to cross things off the list as they're completed, too, which is so satisfying to me I sometimes list things I've already done just to get that Aaaaaaah! feeling as I watch the "done" line go
And perhaps most excitingly, because I love food so much, I'm able plan daily meals and create easily updateable shopping lists that I can then text to myself or Al, or that either of us can just pull up via my iPhone's cozi app. The shopping list on the cozi app has little boxes beside each item that I can check off as I shop. This? I love so, so much.
(I would never, EVER actually forget peanut butter.)
Cozi's shopping lists are also printable, in case you've got older kids (without jobs and thus without phones) you can co-opt into shopping for you the old fashioned way. Oh, and the meal planning tool also features a virtual recipe card box, in which you can store recipes and links to recipes you find online all in once place. Better still, you can hyperlink your recipes right into cozi's meal planning area. Apparently this is one area where the upgrade really provides some extra functionality, but I haven't played with it that much to see what the free app doesn't offer that I might really love to have. I'm loving it so far just as it is.
And just like that, I'm in control.
You can see, I think, that I'm pretty excited about this. This is organization so easy that it almost feels accidental. I already feel like I'm so much more in control ('cause it's all about control, and I've got lots of it, as Janet Jackson says) of our lives, and that gives me the freedom to relax and focus on home and family vs. constantly worrying about What's next and what I'm probably forgetting right this very minute and O. M. G! I'm late again!
How about you?
If you and your family have been a bit on the scattered side, I think you should click on over to cozi.com and take a look at all of their neat, organized, functional, integrated and FREE shininess. I think you'll find some good stuff and take a lot of the chaotic, stressy, panicky, oh-no-I-forgot-something moments right out of your days.
I was not contacted or compensated by cozi.com for writing this review, I just love it and wanted to share it with you in case you'd be interested in trying it out for your family.
Have you used cozi.com? What do you love about it? Or will you try it out now that you've read my glowing report? Tell me about your family organization strategy in the comments!