Why You Should Replace Your New Year’s Diary With a Spreadsheet

New Years is soon. Even if you think New Year’s resolutions are bullshit , I would say that the beginning of a new year is still a good time to look back and look ahead. For me, this is the time when I am very grateful for my habit of writing down every little thing. And I don’t mean just writing down my thoughts and feelings in a diary – I’m talking about keeping track of every book I read, every mile I run, every broken beer (I’m only roughly estimating the last one). If you are interested in documenting your life (and you should be!), I can recommend a humble spreadsheet.

Before you start rolling your eyes: no, I’m not talking about journaling ( which might be cool , but I find it too artistically complex). I’m just creating a Google spreadsheet full of different color-coded tabs so that I can keep track ofany number of ways to measure the year . It’s a fun, slightly boring technique that helps me visualize my life in a way that traditional journaling would not do. That’s why I think you should create your own spreadsheet this year to keep track of all the little things in your life.

A suitcase to document your life

We have already written several times about how and why you should keep a journal . I am a staunch supporter of this practice, but I know that daily journaling is not everyone’s business. However, journaling can be much more than writing down a few pathetic feelings, and there are many benefits to getting out of your comfort zone and giving it a try. According to PsychCentral , journaling is a useful way to reduce stress, identify and solve problems, and generally clear your mind.

Even if you’re not trying to consciously define or process your mental state, documenting your life can be wonderful, whether through tools like daily 1-second videos, whether it’s tracking your workouts , documenting your child’s life, or just capturing a snippet of time. (which I’ve heard may be fleeting). For me, the essence of these videos is to find one worthwhile moment every day. And this is the way of thinking that I bring to my ezine.

Anything can be an achievement

A spreadsheet magazine is perfect for us freaks who love to combine sentimentalism with statistics. Whatever metrics you choose, you can frame them around a sense of accomplishment. Your smartwatch can track how many steps you have taken. A log spreadsheet, however, is where you can estimate how many steps you have taken . From there, you can have fun with numbers, converting those steps to miles, finding patterns in time, or whatever suits your botanical brain.

Rampage. Create different tabs dedicated to different areas of your life so you can appreciate how much is going on with you. I’ll throw in a few ideas in the next section, but at the end of the day, a spreadsheet is a low effort and costly alternative to constantly trying to use your own words, so don’t get too carried away with the details. This method is really about recognizing the value of every small number that defines your life.

Running your table

First things first: choose a spreadsheet program. I prefer simple Google Sheets, but I understand that you might have privacy issues. Or maybe you are just an Excel wizard . It’s up to you, as the basics of your spreadsheet journal won’t change depending on which software you choose.

For some formatting ideas, check out this post on Using Tables to Organize Your Family . The main takeaway is to create one master file with as many different tabs as you see fit. Include tabs keeping track of your health / fitness goals, books / movies / TV shows you’ve watched, your finances / budget, and anything else that matters to you:

  • Hours slept
  • Miles walked
  • Tried new products
  • Concerts attended
  • Films watched
  • Books started
  • Books finished
  • The dates are gone
  • Children are born
  • Bottles of wine drank
  • Job applications sent in cancellation
  • Sent / received personal letters
  • Time spent in traffic
  • Playlists Created
  • Podcasts launched

Unleash the potential of your spreadsheet

You can highlight a column in each tab to record different notes, but for clarity, do not overwhelm the fields with text. It also helps maintain consistency with your formatting – for example, bold the title of each metric. I code colors on a whim. For example, as a stand-up comedian, I track all of my performances with a specific color to indicate my feelings for them: shades of green mean the show went well, and shades of red mean the show went … less Well. In moments when everything seems to be red, it’s nice to be able to turn your eyes to green.

At the end of the year, you will be able to use all of this data to visualize things big and small in your life 12 months before. At first glance, you will be able to praise yourself for how well you have successfully reduced your caffeine intake, or increased your time outdoors, or improved the ratio of books started to completed. Ultimately, my own spreadsheet is designed to appreciate all the little things in my life, even if I do it in one of the most botanical ways imaginable.


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