Tag Archives: spreadsheets

Devs! Could your next online database be a spreadsheet?

If the thought of your next online database being a spreadsheet sounds ridiculous, consider this. Yes, I know, there are times when the only thing that will do the job for you is a highly scalable, highly available relational database. Certainly, there are other times when a NoSQL database with millions of records is the only way to go. That aside, there is likely many times when you need to store one table with hundreds of records or less. In that case, consider using an online spreadsheet from someone like Google.

If you write code to store data in a spreadsheet, one of the key advantages is that you and others can then interact with that data via spreadsheet software. You don’t have to run special ETL programs to get that data there. You have all the power you need. Plus the code to interact with something like Google Sheets is much simpler than the code to interact with something like AWS’s DynamoDB. I know…I have done both.

For more on this, check this out:Google Sheets API using Python : Complete 2021 Guide. It could be just the thing you need.

How I track my goals and my year using spreadsheets: my 2021 review. (Maybe you can steal this approach)

I’ve used a number of ways to track my goals and my year, and I have found spreadsheets the best way to do it.

Below are snapshots of the two worksheets I used in my spreadsheet. The first image is the worksheet I use for the goals I have regarding my responsibility for people and other things. The second image is the worksheet I use for the goals I have regarding myself. Each row is a week in the year. If I did nothing to advance the goal that week, I colour the cell red. If I did something but fell short, I use yellow. If I had a good week, the cell is green, and if I had a great week the cell is purple.

What’s nice about using colour like this is that I can zoom out and see how I am progressing over the year.

In the first two columns above I track how much I do for my son and daughter. Pretty good there. The next column is what I do for my brother and sister: I started weak but picked up throughout the year. It was good, and better than last year, but it can be better still. Next column is for keeping in touch with friends. It’s tough in a pandemic but I could email and use social media. The last three columns are my home, my finances, and my involvement in politics.  I was much better with political engagement last year: this year the pandemic wore me down. Likewise I did ok managing my home and finances this year but it could be better. All in all too much red and yellow in those last 2 columns. (Part of the problem is I find them thankless tasks that provide little or no good feedback.)

After my responsibility to others,  my goals are managing myself. I found I did poorly on the hard parts of this but better on the soft parts. lol! The first two columns above are fitness (do more exercising) and reading (do more reading). I get a D to an F grade for much of the year there. The third column tracks how much I draw and do other art. Again, D or maybe a C-. I did well writing (column 4): I wrote every week in my main blog, and sometimes elsewhere.  After that comes column 5 and IT skills development: I got maybe a B- there. Often that takes a backseat to other things. In terms of cooking (column 6) that was easy in a pandemic! I did a lot of cooking and cooked hundreds of different recipes. (I track all the meals separately because I am a nut.)

For a long time I felt homebound and never did things for myself, so I tried to improve that and make them goals. So the last three columns are Treats, Restaurants I’ve tried, and new and good things I have done. Mostly I’ve done well there, compared to reading and fitness. Sigh. Ah well. (Those are easy to do, since the feedback you get once you do them is really good.)

The colour coding is subjective, of course, and in a pandemic the bar to green and purple is lower. But as a consultant, I quite like this way of tracking my goals.

Now I have a lot of goals, I admit. One thing nice about that is that I usually feel like I am accomplishing something. So if I am not getting in shape, at least I am keeping in touch with people and taking care of other things.

I also don’t track everything in a spreadsheet: I have some goals I track elsewhere, for example for some relationships and responsibilities. Likewise I sometimes have goals that are in a limited time window of weeks instead of months: they don’t go here.

It may seem like a lot to track, but I find I spent a few minutes each day then I can get it done. Plus I can course correct this way too and shift my priorities around.

If you struggle with goals and tracking them and moving forward, I recommend this approach. It’s fast and painless.

Here’s to achieving your goals, small and big, in 2022.

In praise of spreadsheets (and some new ways for you to use them)

Excel
Let’s face it: there is no better tool than Excel/spreadsheet software when it comes to managing information. New tools come out all the time, and yet people still depend on this workhorse software to get the job done.

At least it is for me. If that’s you too, then you might be interested in what they have over at Vertex42.com, including these three tools:

  1. Free Gantt Chart Template for Excel
  2. Project Timeline Template for Excel
  3. Savings Snowball Calculator

Of course Google Sheets are also great. Whatever you use, check out that site for some good tools and ideas.