Livin’ in a Spreadsheet Paradise

Have you ever known someone who makes a spreadsheet for everything? In this article, you will take a ride with one of those people.

You will learn the good, bad, and ugly.

Much has been written about the addictive nature of drugs and alcohol, however the literature on the addictiveness of spreadsheets has been lacking. The spreadsheet is a tool that is capable of transforming life as you know it but it comes with costs and benefits.

Much like a sandy, sunny, private beach, when you surround yourself with spreadsheets, you can enter a productive paradise that takes you from who you are to who you want to be.

As I have advanced toward my personal, professional, and financial interests, spreadsheets have played an integral part and at times, proven to be highly addictive.

Here is how it basically breaks down when people ask me things:

“Ryan, can you help me solve a problem?” – Generic person (it could be anyone)

“Ohhh… This calls for a spreadsheet!!!” – My Response.

If you are suffering from a lack of motivation it may be due to a “spreadsheet deficiency.” This condition, while unacknowledged by any psychological expert on planet earth, carries important implications.

You see, without a tracking mechanism to store information and measure success, desired outcomes may appear further out of reach than they are in reality.

If life is a series of puzzles, the spreadsheet is the right tool to solve them.

The use of a spreadsheet is only as productive as the plan that surrounds its use. Just as with anything related to personal growth, the process should be active, never passive. 

The nature of an ever-changing world necessitates that to the greatest extent possible, changes in your life should be driven by you in consultation with your dreams, goals, and hopefully, your spreadsheets.

When the ‘sheets’ become a consistent part of your life, dreams that once seemed lofty begin to feel within reach. Many of life’s formerly unanswerable questions become answerable. Here are a few.

Where can I work?

When job searching, the interests of the employer should come first since they are the ones you will need to persuade. Besides knowing your skill set and researching to learn about their interests, there is another tool you can utilize. 

You guessed it, you can make a spreadsheet.

Example of Company Tracking List

Sales professionals maintain prospect lists usually in MS Excel, Google Sheets, or in a company database. This is not dissimilar to the sample above. Information like this is going to need to be tracked somehow as you seek your next employment or client. Might as well get it written down.

Relying on Indeed, LinkedIn job postings, or a whim and a prayer is never an effective strategy. Information that is as important as potential employers or clients ought to be handled with care. When stored outside of spreadsheets, it becomes difficult to manage when the list gets lengthy.

As usual, spreadsheets make it all possible.

Who can I talk to?

When you build credibility, trust, and a positive reputation with the right people, it is important to manage these relationships. If you want to rely upon more than pure instinct, strategy can help.

Why not creatively apply a well-customized spreadsheet to the situation?

Example of Contacts Tracking List

Once information like this is logged into a spreadsheet, it becomes easy to find ways to convert into clear action steps. Arriba!

Am I exercising enough?

Are you reaching your fitness, sleep, or other physical health goals? We all know that a healthy body and mind contribute to success in other areas of life. Luckily our friend, the spreadsheets and their cousin, the built-in chart tool are here for us.

Motivation is a wonderful thing when it comes, however it is not always present. One of the most challenging aspects of implementing a workout plan is finding consistency. The below chart helps manage occasional flare ups of discouragement.

The way this helps is the visual representation of progress over time directs focus on the long-term, rather than temporary disappointments that may occur. Negative feelings associated with missing goal for the day is one example. Self-doubt often sets in without the awareness of the true long-term progress.

Over time, you learn how to set realistic goals. Evidence of this is right here in the above chart. You can see a much higher amount of pushups have been done recently. Why? They became a bigger priority.

You can do the same with your priorities. How exciting is that?

Where is all of my Money? 😦

For those who have yet to master the art of getting away with counterfeiting money, experts agree that planning and tracking expenses is necessary for financial well-being. Popularly known as a budget, these come in many forms. Experts agree that the non-criminals among us should all have some form of a budget.

As an example, here is the summary section in my current yearly personal budget as of the last week in June – 2021. After paying off my student loans, my top priorities are now to compare actual expenses against projected, contribute to and invest in my Roth IRA, and add money to savings.

As you can see, the below image reflects these goals.

A Word on Growth

If you compare the above which contains countless formulas, monthly tabs, and Pivot Tables, to my very first spreadsheet from 2013, you will see a vast difference.

The last 8 years in spreadsheet paradise have been a journey. And let’s hope there was progress. After all, I have been a spreadsheet addict.

It should be noted that many mobile apps and alternatives exist and they are useful if you want something simple so you do not have to spend time adjusting spreadsheets.

Choose those if you’d rather vacation elsewhere. I’ll stay in paradise. At least, until the sun goes down.

Welcome to the Dark Side

You may think I am crazy. Or you may think that certain individuals such as myself who would love nothing better than ‘spreadsheetin’ even when on vacation, experience a dark side. This dark side may include wasted time, distractions from essential obligations in life, and even social isolation.

To this I would say that you are absolutely correct. I have experienced all of those things. In fact, on one occasion, I exchanged numbers with a girl I connected with on a dating app. In an effort to impress her, I took a screenshot of a part of my spreadsheet where I once tracked my daily activity.

The image I sent her was something like what is depicted below.

Her response was simple, and confusing. “I can’t do this.” She said.

I never heard from her again.

Is ‘Spreadin’ Sheets Right for You?

As with any addiction, there is a need for balance. On your spreadsheet journey, you may notice a temptation to track everything beneath the sun that moves. Although it would be awesome to analyze every daily movement or observation in a line or pie chart, it would likely not be productive. 

This is where your human intelligence must come into play. A spreadsheet is only as useful as the human being who tracks, inputs, organizes, and manages the information. They also come with a time commitment, so balancing the dedication it takes to record a piece of information against the payoff is a skill that comes with time.

Without direction, if you are like me, you may just find that you have been spending too much of your time livin’ in a spreadsheet paradise. You have to be realistic, but you also have to be willing to waste some time. Luckily you own this process. It is well within your rights to set your own limits.

I have wasted time but rather than abandoning the plan, I have adjusted while doubling and tripling down on my love affair with my sheets. It has worked, although I still do more spreadsheetin’ than needed, and probably always will.

Strive to be ‘Just Right’

A pastime paradise has its place. The glory we associate with the past and the beauty we may have experienced has an everlasting impact on the richness of our life experience. As we move forward, if these are merely memories, they sadly diminish in their present and future utility.

Similarly, vacations come and then go as the memories fade. So do friends and dating partners. But like a spouse, faith in God, or a lifestyle, spreadsheets can stay.

Some may say I’ve been spendin’ too much of my life living in a spreadsheet paradise but I argue the opposite. I have been a spreadsheet addict but I have learned much about myself and my priorities along the way.

If you join me, I wish you well and look forward to seeing you in paradise.

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3 thoughts on “Livin’ in a Spreadsheet Paradise”

  1. Who doesn’t love a spreadsheet? In my old job role I was once crowned the spread sheet queen so watch out. Im coming for your title 🤣

    I use spreadsheets for some of my blogging work, like keeping tabs on income etc. Its such a great way to visualise things!

    Olivia | http://www.olivialucieblake.com


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