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Innovative uses for Excel to improve life?
November 26, 2007 4:05 PM   Subscribe

How can I use Excel to improve my life?

I always thought of Excel as something for finances, but I have recently become aware that Excel can be used for goal tracking and for tracking/analyzing fitness and diet stuff. What other innovative uses could a person have for Excel that might improve their life?

A little about my life, in case it is relevant:
-I love Lifehacker, so any lifehackerish stuff would be right up my alley
-Computer engineering student in Europe
-No car, live in an apartment right by campus with my boyfriend
-Hobbies: gadgets (and tinkering with them), ballet, swing dancing, programming, roleplaying/gamemastering, writing stories, sewing
-Struggle with depression


Many bonus points if you can link me to a template.
posted by giggleknickers to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
You might enjoy perusing the templates available at D*I*Y Planner.
posted by susiepie at 4:15 PM on November 26, 2007


It's always a joy to find beauty where you least expect it. Consider following the lead of artist Danielle Aubert and adopt the spreadsheet as a canvas. Make your whole brain happy and create some algorithmic art!
posted by skybyke at 4:29 PM on November 26, 2007


AH!! Another lifehacker enthusiast. Besides Mefi i check lifehacker an untold number of times a day to see if it has had new posts.

Anyway, I have an excel book called "the story of my life" that has a page marked "present" which is mostly a books and music wish list. It also includes a few games and a small random list of things that i would like sometime soon. I have another page marked "future" that includes all the things i want to get in the long run(...eventually i want a sailboat, but i am not even out of college yet..). This sheet also lists the things I want to do/learn (ex. brew my own beer, design my dream house, etc.) and also places that i want to go, (Tahiti, Amsterdam, etc.).

I also have a paged marked "Past" but i have no idea what to put in it.

On that note, i know this sounds cheesy, but it helps to orient myself on days i am really stressed out. It is also a morale boost when i can see what i have checked off.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 5:28 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I keep my list of books read in an Excel spreadsheet; my programmer sweetie wrote a little script that downloads a text file from the public library database whenever I've checked out new items, and I import them, and then, after I've read them, rate them. This way I know what I've read, what I liked, and when I want to tell somebody about that really good book I read last year, I can find its title.
posted by not that girl at 7:17 PM on November 26, 2007


Jeremy Zawodny's diet spreadsheet here.
posted by aeighty at 7:56 PM on November 26, 2007


If you scroll down past all the trackback links, the comments on "Excel Pile" have tons of ideas of how to use Excel for tracking other stuff.
posted by mathowie at 8:49 PM on November 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who keeps a log of how he spends his workdays at a 15 minutes granularity. It started back when he was a contractor, as a way to justify his time to his client. It became a tool to keep laziness in check, and to evaluate the quality of the estimates he had made on how much time each task would take.

He uses Dragon NaturallySpeaking to dictate the entries. He does so both because it is faster than a keyboard, especially when you don't care about the occasional recognition mistake, and because it is less intrusive than a keyboard.

Like you, he also struggles with depression. He started using Excel to make charts of how his mood progresses throughout the day. He is trying to correlate it to various aspects of his diet.

I have had several friends use Excel to track their weight loss diet, following the method described in "the hacker's diet".

I once bought a 10 year old car with the intention of putting enough parts on it that it would stop breaking all the time. I used Excel to chart the cumulative expense on it. It was encouraging to see the curve flatten out with time. With the effort, it was breaking less often and costing less money.

It is also empowering to be able to predict roughly when your car is going to break down next, and how much the repair is going to cost you. It might be random, but overall it tracks the curve.

I used Excel as a canvas to draft the graphic design and interaction design of interfaces that would eventually become a website. The grid layout resemble what you can do with HTML, and it is certainly more pleasant to draw on an Excel sheet than in a HTML editor.
posted by gmarceau at 9:06 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


heh, this got linked to by lifehacker.org, nice!
posted by Black_Umbrella at 12:14 PM on November 27, 2007


what am i saying....im to to tired to think right now.....www.lifehacker.com
posted by Black_Umbrella at 12:15 PM on November 27, 2007


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