With seven party planners in three states, organizing an August baby shower for my youngest sister has been a challenge. Fortunately, we've found a practical to-do list at www.babyshower101.
With this planning tool, we have time to delegate chores and to shop around for the best prices. That strategy applies to other seasonal, daily or milestone events including vacation planning, back-to-school shopping and emergency preparations. There are several checklists online and on paper. Here are a few tips for using no-cost or low-cost event-planning lists.
• Check your PC. Excellent planning tools may be right under your fingertips. For example, my laptop is programmed with Microsoft's "Task Launcher." This program has templates for different projects, such as "plan a vacation" and "prepare for the holidays." Each project has a preset checklist that can be tailored for your event. My favorite feature is the deadline option that links a specific chore to a built-in calendar, which generates periodic reminders of deadlines and appointments.
• Avoid the soft sell: Many Web sites and blogs offer great to-do lists for college planning, spring cleaning and retirement planning. Search engines also provide links to checklists or to-do lists for different activities, events or functions. Some planning tools, however, include pitches for fee-based products and services. I stick to the free material.
• Pick up time management tips: At mindtools.com there are great techniques for managing time and setting goals. The site, like other Web sites, also offers a free blank template for creating to-do lists and a system for establishing priorities.
• Go old school: Seasonal to-do lists are standard features in many consumer magazines and newspapers. And of course, pen, paper and a traditional calendar are low-tech tools for creating a checklist and a timeline.
Sharon is the author of the Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money -- a coming of age memoir about money -- and a contributing writer in Wise Bread's 10,0001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.