Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My "What Can I Learn Today?" Spreadsheet

So, at the risk of appearing totally nerdy (Gotta stop myself I'm so nerdy), I thought I would share a screenshot of the spreadsheet that rules my life this summer. Unlike the spreadsheets that ruled my life last summer and the year before, I don't have a course redesign this time... instead: just reading, exploring, collecting, and having fun online!

I've actually been using this spreadsheet during this past school year, and it's been a lifesaver! During the school year it's really hard to stay on schedule with my curation projects, but during the summer. So, right now it's mostly just a reminder list, as opposed to an alerts list letting me know where I have fallen behind.

Here's how it works:

I have a list of projects I am working on: blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube, along with my big Growth Mindset project (separate sheet of its own). For each project, there's a link or sometimes two links that can give me what I need to check on my work and add to it; having the links right there allows me to do my work directly from the spreadsheet.

There's also a formula for each project where I identify the "ideal" frequency at which I work on that content stream. During the summer, they are all daily or every-other-day, but during the regular school year, they are more like once or twice a week projects. In addition to that ideal frequency, there is also a "limit" where I start counting days behind. So, a project might have an ideal of every-other day, but I cut myself some slack and don't nag until three days have passed.

As I work on each project (adding a tweet or a blog post or a pin as the case may be), I update the date column (today's date appears in bold so I can quickly see which ones I've worked on today). There's a formula that then compares the date in that column and gives me the "gap" between the ideal and the actual date of activity. Then, based on the "gap" and the "limit" I get a prompt about whether or not I need to work on that area right now (either "..." or "maybe" or "today"). Finally, there's also a "delay" column that tells me how many days I am behind the actual limit I set for myself.

During the school year, I usually get behind enough that every day I'm scrambling to take care of things that are delayed (which is why that column comes first, on the far left). Then, I take care of the "today" items. And I'm lucky to do all that during the regular year.

But during the summer, oh, I have time for things! So not only can I keep up, I can even change a lot of the ideal frequency items to daily. And it's really just based on what I enjoy most, not because of any external imperative. I have so many fun things to work on.

What I really like about this system is that it is totally forgiving. If I get behind, well, all I have to do is post something that day and, presto, no worries! The spreadsheet has no memory: it just looks at everything in terms of today.

It's also highly automated with formulas. I can change the ideal and limit for any item when I want; everything else is formula-driven. I just enter the date, and the spreadsheet does its magic. It's kind of scary if I am online at midnight because that change in date updates all the formulas. So, especially during the school year, my nicely caught-up spreadsheet can turn to a bunch of "today" messages right at midnight, ha ha. If I remember, I'll add a screenshot later to this post that shows what it looks like when I am not all nicely caught up as I am now.

Call it a "What Can I Learn Today?" spreadsheet. It is very dorky, I know... but it works for me! :-)

Update: Here's what the sheet looks like after midnight (since I have a lot of daily goals during the summer, a lot of "today" messages pop up):

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