TIME How-To

Here Are Some Apps to Keep Your Family Organized

Appointments, medications, game schedules, chores — to make a household run smoothly, you need a safe place to store and share information. That’s where apps come in handy.

I found apps that fit every family from traditional nuclear families — parents and kids living under one roof — to grown children taking care of parents to divorced parents with joint custody to people who want to track their pet’s care. Plus, there are specialized apps for playdates, carpooling and chores. Check out my picks below.

For families with young children

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Cozi

Cozi

Cozi lets you keep everyone’s calendar in one place. Each family member is assigned a color, so it’s easy to see who’s busy and who’s free at a glance. And you can make appointments for anyone in your family and sync appointments with Outlook. There’s a very robust reminder system, with the ability to send text and email reminders, as well as a weekly digest. In addition to calendaring, you can share shopping lists and to-do lists with family members, plan meals and create a family journal, which everyone can contribute to.

For $29.99 per year, Cozi Gold members get an ad-free experience, shared contacts, calendar change notifications and a birthday tracker, among other features. The subscription is good for the whole family.

Price: Free at iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Appstore and Windows Store (for Windows Tablets and PCs)

AboutOne

AboutOne knows that there’s a lot more to keeping your family organized than keeping a family calendar. The service goes beyond, with easy ways to store medical information and your home inventory, share pictures, notes and videos and save important documents — receipts, college applications and family-member care sheets. And, you can manage everything with the AboutOne app on your iOS, Android, Windows Phone or Windows 8 device.

The basic service is free and comes with 1GB of document storage, room for six family members and contacts and emergency management. For $5 per month you get 5GB of data, 10 family members and, when available, a family calendar that syncs with popular calendar programs.

Price: Free at iTunes, Google Play and Windows Phone app store

Two Happy Homes

Managing the lives of busy children between two homes can be challenging. But Two Happy Homes makes it a little easier with a communication and organization service built specifically for co-parenting. Parents keep a joint calendar and contact list, can send private notes and share medical information, documents and pictures. There’s even a place to track and pay expenses online.

The basic service is free and includes the calendar, notes, expense tracking and 10 contacts and documents. For $14.98 per month, you get unlimited documents and contacts, plus medical information sharing and payment of expenses through PayPal.

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Carpool Kids

Carpool Kids

Coordinating carpools can be stressful, but Carpool Kids makes it easy. Set up one-time or recurring events, assign a driver and add kids to the car. If there are changes, updates can by pushed to everyone through the app or email. If you want to set up more than one carpool at a time, there’s a $4.99 yearly subscription fee.

Price: Free in iTunes or on Carpool-Kids.com

InstantPlaydates

Who’s free to go to the park right now or meet at the museum on Saturday? InstantPlaydates lets you easily schedule playdates with your Facebook friends. When you’re heading to the park, you broadcast your availability and how long you’ll be there. Or, you can check to see who’s currently available.

Price: Free at iTunes or on InstantPlaydates.com

You Rule Chores

You Rule Chores ($3.99 on iTunes) makes it easy to set up a chores and rewards list. Throughout the day, kids can check off their chores and earn coins to gain rewards. Kids can choose from a great selection of avatars and level them up with new powers and gadgets as they complete chores. A quick glance at the opening screen of the app shows how many chores are left for each child, making it into a competition to see who gets them all done first. A good choice for Android is iRewardChart ($3.99 on Google Play and iTunes), which has a similar chore and rewards system, but no fun characters or weekly competition.

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CareZone

For adult children taking care of parents

When parents need the help of their adult children, caretaking can become a family affair. CareZone helps ease the way with a free service that lets family members share care. The CareZone Senior app has a journal to record what’s going on, notes for day-to-day communication, a place to store important documents and a shared to-do list. Medication dosages, doctor’s visits and prescriptions can be easily tracked. And, there’s one shared contact list and calendar. Better yet, everything can be tracked on your smartphone.

Price: Free at iTunes and Google Play

For pet parents

Keeping on top of feeding, grooming, exercise and medical care of a pet requires organization. Pet Master Pro keeps you organized with easy tracking features for medications, vaccinations, insurance and even microchip information — invaluable in any emergency situation. In addition, you can manage appointments with the groomer or dog walker.

Price: $2.99 at iTunes or $4.99 at Google Play.

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME organization

4 Apps That Will Save You Time

Modern life comes with many hassles that eat up your precious time. There’s sorting through the daily influx of junk mail, waiting on hold for customer service and trying to find a parking spot when you’re late for an appointment, to name a few.

Fortunately, there are apps to help you deal with all these inconveniences. We list the best ones that help you stop wasting your precious time.

Reduce junk mail

PaperKarma

Do catalogs, coupon books, mass-mailed fliers, credit card offers and more clog your mailbox? For those of us trying to be more organized, not to mention going paperless, it’s a daily annoyance — and that’s where the PaperKarma appcomes in.

Available for iOS, Android and Windows phones, this free app helps you eliminate the steady stream of junk mail that comes your way every day. Once you’ve loaded and registered the app, you can use the camera on your phone to take a picture of the offending piece of junk mail. A few taps later, the app will send a request to the junk mail sender to take you off their mailing list.

It may take a few weeks to see results, but it will be worth it to see a reduction in the amount of useless and wasteful solicitations in your mailbox. The one type of junk mail they can’t stop is distributed based on zip code alone (i.e. local grocery store coupons or restaurant offers). These are usually addressed “To Our Friends/Neighbors.”

I tried it out with a postcard I got from Proctor & Gamble for Mach 3 razors. After I took a picture of the offending junk mail, the app needed my name and address. Once I confirmed I really wanted to unsubscribe, it sent off a request promising to resend if it didn’t hear back in 13 days, but I received confirmation about 60 seconds later that I have been taken off their list. It also provided the contact info for the mailing company if I wanted to reach out to them myself.

The company doesn’t share your information to third parties unless you explicitly choose to opt in. In fact, they even go so far as to state: “We will never share your information due to a creative interpretation of our privacy policy.” If only all companies were so straight forward with our personal data.

Price: Free at iTunes, Google Play and Windows App Store

Reduce drive time

ParkMe

Whether you live in New York, Los Angeles or points in between, finding an available parking spot can eat up a good amount of your valuable time. Enter the ParkMeapp. This handy service will show you available garage and street parking either immediately around you or anywhere you search on the map, along with the cost for each one. The app lists over 28,000 locations across 7 continents, and you can set it to look for either daily or monthly parking.

You can filter your search by either garage or street parking, as well as cheapest or closest spaces. Still can’t decide? Tap the ParkMe button at the bottom of the screen and the app will recommend the cheapest option in the area.

In addition, the app will tell you how many spaces are left in the garage or on a particular metered street, so you can judge if you can make it there in time to take advantage of their availability. Some garages allow you to pay for and reserve a space directly through the app (the parking icons with the price tag icons.) If that option is not available for the space you’re interested in, you can still see a picture of the parking area, the opening and closing times for the garage, as well as how much it will cost you based on how long you are going to stay.

Once you’re parked, there is a handy in-app timer you can set to warn you when you have to move your car (great for metered street parking.) In case you can never remember where you parked, you can also mark the location of your spot in the app before you walk away.

After a day battling traffic, it doesn’t get better than that.

Price: Free at iTunes and Google Play

Cut customer service hold time

FastCustomer

Sitting on hold waiting for a customer service rep to get to you is about as fun as a root canal. This is where the FastCustomer app comes in. Choose from the app’s list of thousands of companies and it will call for you, navigate through the choices and then call you back when a customer service rep is ready to speak to you.

I tried it out with three different companies in their directory: Time Warner, Verizon and Amazon. Both Verizon and Amazon worked as advertised: When my phone rang me back a few minutes later, I picked it up and heard a customer service rep ready to talk to me. But when the Time Warner call came through I got an automated voice telling me a customer service rep would be online in two minutes, then it hung up on me. In instances like this, FastCustomer encourages you to let them know so they can look into it.

While this app is only available for iOS and Android phones, the same service can be accessed for Windows Phone and BlackBerry using a texting option. For iPhone 4S, 5, 5c and 5s users, the same texting option allows you to use Siri to tell your phone to contact customer service of any company in FastCustomer’s database.

FastCustomer also has a strong privacy policy, only using your phone number so the app can call you back when the customer service rep you want is ready to speak to you.

Price: Free at iTunes and Google Play

Block spam calls

Mr. Number

No one likes to see their privacy and time violated by a telemarketer calling your mobile phone. Fortunately, with a smartphone, you can outwit them. There are apps that identify incoming calls from telemarketers and even outright block the call.

If you have an Android phone, you get the best of both worlds with Mr. Number. This app automatically blocks calls and texts listed as Private or Unknown. For all other calls, Mr. Number checks against a crowd-sourced list of known spammers and, if it finds a match, you can choose for the app to automatically hang up on the caller or send the call directly to voicemail.

Price: Free on Google Play (reverse look-up for a fee)

For iPhone users, it’s a little more complicated. No apps allow you to block incoming calls or texts, but that function is built directly into iOS7. Go to the Contacts app and tap on the contact you want to block or find the number on the Recent Calls tab (clock icon) on your Phone app and tap the circled “i” icon to the right of the number. Both these methods will take you to the contact page for that caller. Scroll to the bottom and click on Block This Caller.

There is help in identifying incoming telemarketer calls, though. The Truecallerapp will check incoming calls against its database of top spammers and let you know right in the call screen if the caller is a known spammer. If so, simply decline the call then use the method listed above to block them from contacting you again. If the number isn’t in the top spammer database, you’ll need to pay a fee to look up the number.

If you want to be able to look up numbers, opt for Lookup+ by PrivacyStar. You’ll pay $4.99 up front, but after that the app provides unlimited number lookups and even lets you file complaints against unlawful callers.

Price: Truecaller is free on iTunes (reverse look up for a fee); Lookup+ by PrivacyStar is $4.99 on iTunes

We hope these apps help you navigate the daily time-sucks that you encounter. If you know of any other great ones, please let us know in the comments!

This article was written by Dan O’Halloran and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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