Sunday, June 17, 2012

Frantic Family Posts

Yesterday at my ward's Relief Society retreat--an activity for the women's group of our LDS congregation--I had a few minutes to talk about how I make living the gospel part of my life.  I collected a lot of thoughts in the days I had to think about that topic, but with only seven minutes allotted to my presentation, I pared it down to a few basic ideas.  At the end of my spiel, I briefly talked about the process of defining our family's values and the weekly checks we do in family council to make sure we don't become so caught up in the daily run-around that we neglect the pillars of our family and what we want to accomplish long-term.  I directed the audience to my blog, where I posted about that process in 2010.  We still use the process, more consistently at some times than others, but it has stuck, so it's a good one for us.  We can usually get through an entire family council (not including calendaring) in ten minutes or less.  Maybe it will be good for you and your family, too.  It works for families of any age and size: parents of young children, children of mixed ages, single people, and couples with no children at home.  Here are links to the four posts so you don't have to search my whole blog for them:

Looking back at these posts, I realize I never explained how we use our frantic family white board.  Once each week (usually Monday night after kids are ready for bed), we all gather around the white board in our kitchen.  We sometimes read through the Family Statement first.  Then we quickly address each Standard Objective.  By quickly, I mean we decide if the objective gets a green dot meaning we're doing great in that area, a blue dot (couldn't find a yellow dry erase marker) meaning we're doing okay but could be better, or a red dot meaning that objective is suffering and needs our attention.  As we walk past that board all week, the idea is to focus our minds on whatever Standard Objective needs help.  For example, a red dot on Education usually means I need to check the kids' schoolwork online or help them catch up on missed homework.  A red dot on Home Maintenance currently means that I need to get bids from roofers.  Often, we will define the red dot and make a note on the board as to what we are going to do to make the dot green.  If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll see that sometimes we can't commit to a dot of just one color.  Some of them are blue with a red center, or green with a blue center.  But you get the idea: rating things with colors is a time-saving way to evaluate how we're doing and direct our focus to those things that need it.  We also look at how we're doing on the Rallying Cry and determine if any targeted completion dates need to be adjusted.  (Last week I erased the target dates because summer has put our Rallying Cry on temporary hold. Once we get a better summer routine established, we'll figure out how to make the Rallying Cry happen again.)
Click on the photo to enlarge and read the board more easily.
I will add that we tweaked our weekly check-ins a bit.  Under "Individual Well Being", we added each family's member's first initial with a blank space next to it.  At family councils, we let each person give him/herself a colored dot and talk about why they are a certain color.  Recently, we missed a week or two of our check-in meeting, and #4 told me she wanted to meet again because she had been working to change her blue dot to a green.  When I stopped and thought about it, I realized she has been a lot more responsible and cheerful and affectionate lately.  How great to know that the change in her behavior was intentional and not "just a phase"!

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Carolyn said...

We do a lot of reports at work like that. We call them out stoplight reports, where we rate various aspects of the business as red, yellow, or green, with timelines to attain green. It's a good, quick way for the executives to see what's going on with clients, subcompanies, etc.

Mary said...


Yep, that's what the book (where we got this model) was all about: planning family goals the way businesses complete their goals. I loved how the book, "The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family", spoke to my business sensibilities.

Min said...

If you haven't already read them you might enjoy "Getting Things Done" and "Ready for Anything" both by David Allen. I think they are a great help for people with lots of things going on.

Mary said...

Min, great suggestions! Kent and I read "Getting Things Done" awhile ago, thanks to your suggestion. I'll have to check out Allen's other book too. Thanks!

Charlotte said...

I am always impressed with how together you keep the family stuff. I need to be better at working toward family goals.

Jenni said...

You are so amazing! What a great idea. But I am especially impressed at how well you've implemented and maintained it.