In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today, to give you a better tomorrow.
I’ll be honest: Modern life is too complicated for me. Anxiety can often lead to disorganization and confusion, and as a result, I have no idea what I’m doing half the time. But the other half works in large part thanks to a handful of Google spreadsheets.
I can thank a spreadsheet for my writing career, at least in part. It allows me to immediately see where I’ve pitched, what I’ve written, and who has paid me. A spreadsheet dedicated to trip planning is the primary reason I’m confidently going on my first vacation as an adult in May. Another spreadsheet is devoted to overall health: It’s where I track how many servings of vegetables I’ve eaten that day, how many alcoholic beverages I’ve had in a week, and how often I’ve worked out. It keeps me accountable to myself.
But here’s the most surprising thing about all these spreadsheets: They’re enjoyable. You could use productivity apps to track your habits, but they’re not as endlessly customizable, creative, or purposeful as spreadsheets. It’s fun to puzzle out the best way to organize them and maximize the amount of information you can include without making them unwieldy. And it’s a joy to see them fill up and show off all the books you’ve read this year or how much you’ve exercised.
“List making, if done right, can help you organize your goals and keep track of your to-do list,” says Rachel Hershenberg, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Emory University and author of the book Activating Happiness: A Jump Start Guide to Overcoming Low Motivation, Depression, or Just Feeling Stuck. “Finding a sense of accomplishment from things that are hard to do is an important part of improving depressed mood and low motivation.”
Research from psychologists E.J. Masicampo of Wake Forest College and Roy Baumeister of Florida State University, which looked at how…