Spreadsheet Beauty: Organizing The Things

laptop on table with excel sheet on screen

As is likely evident by a lot of my recent posts, I’ve been doing a lot of collaborative writing and research recently.  A huge chunk of this collaborative writing has been with my co-conspirator colleague Andrea Eidinger of Unwritten Histories. Andrea and I have a lot of project ideas and discussions about things we should work on.  Late in 2018 we decided that we needed to start keeping track of all these brilliant ideas in a more formal way.  Enter the spreadsheet to end all spreadsheets – or at least the spreadsheet to organize our collaborative writing projects.

Spreadsheets can be scary things full of numbers, formulas, and budget crunching things. But spreadsheets can also be a very low tech collaboration tool. I’m not saying you should abandon project management tools and start using spreadsheets. But, for small projects or task lists using Google Sheets as an easy way to collaboratively collect ideas, track progress, and share links.

For folks looking to use Google Sheets as part of their project management tools here are some of my favourite resources:

  • Create Dynamic project plans with Sheets, G Suite Learning Center
    • My favourite part about this guide is that it shows you how to set up progress trackers using conditionally formatting in Google Sheets.  This is huge if you’re looking to visually tell which tasks have been completed or are in progress.  This guide also comes complete with a template that you can download and customize to your needs.
  • Google Sheets also comes with a number of project management focused templates.  I’ve found the Project Timeline template that uses a modified Gantt chart really helpful for visualizing progress.
  • Use the assign task comment feature to notify folks of work or questions that pertain to them.
  • Turn on a notification rule if you want to know any time there is a chance within the Sheet.

Do you use spreadsheets to organize projects? Do you find it helpful? Or do you find yourself avoiding updating and dreading looking at the spreadsheet? 

Image credit: rawpixel on Unsplash

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