One Sheet to Rule Them All

I know a lot of people have a lot of different ways of keeping their lives organized. There are day planners. Calendars. Sticky notes. You name it. There are tons of apps and programs that are designed to help you get the things done you have to do. People ask me how I stay on top of everything and get so much done. Some of it is because I have a hyper-scheduled work week. I get up at the same time, eat the same food at the same times, and do the same chores at the same times. (Not that my whole day is like that, but the structure is in place, which helps me then focus on all the other things that need particular attention.)

But the biggest tool I use has got to be spreadsheets. Google Sheets is the flavor of the day, but Excel works just as well. I like Sheets because it’s all on the cloud, and I can access it on my phone or computer or iPad. Anywhere I need to.

I have one master sheet. The sheet that contains my life. All the jotted down notes of things I need to remember, arranged in columns and rows. There are multiple tabs, each tab with a different purpose. Let me go over some of them with you. My master sheet currently has:

  • Media, where I keep track of all the books, tv shows, and movies I read or watch, as well as keep notes for what rating I gave them. This keeps me on track for reaching my reading goal of a book a week.
  • Games, where I keep track of all the games I play, particularly Magic the Gathering drafts. Because I’m a geek.
  • European Travel, where I have my notes for my upcoming trip to Europe. Where we can visit, what dates we’re where, price estimates, etc.
  • Budget, where I have all my notes about financial-related things.
  • Credit cards, where all my credit card churning notes go. (I just checked the other day. I’ve made 400,000 rewards points on Chase since I started this, and 260,000 Marriott points. This is going really well, and I’m very glad I did it.
  • Expenses, where I enter my expenses and mileage for author and church-related travel and business. Because April 15th is always around the corner.
  • Frequent Flyer Information, so I can keep track of what number to enter in when I fly somewhere
  • Cube Planning, where I have notes about Magic cards I want for my cube. Because I’m a geek
  • Master List, which is my main sheet. It has notes for everything. My To Do list, story ideas, shopping lists for home renovation, novel plot outlines, etc. It’s scattered, but I know where it all resides and how to find what I want.
  • Drafting Results, where I keep track of the records of my Magic the Gathering Drafting Club. Because I’m a geek.
  • Fantasy Baseball Tabs, where I have notes for my Fantasy Baseball league, because geeks also like sports.

At the end of each year, I create a new Google Sheet, basing it off the last year’s template. And on and on it goes. The document is living, so I’ll regularly delete things on a sheet that I no longer need, or write over them or edit them. When I come up with a blog post idea? It goes on the sheet. When I remember something I have to do? On the sheet. My phone is always with me, and I often add notes in the middle of meetings, walking to work, during breakfast, etc. And then I take a look at what needs doing when I have time, and I churn through the list.

On days when I’m particularly stressed, I’ll transfer the list to paper. I feel much more accomplished when I can scribble out a To Do item, rather than just deleting it digitally. Go figure.

Anyway. That’s what I do. What’s your approach? I’m always interested to hear new ideas. Happy Friday!


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