An Ode to Spreadsheets and Scribbles


I have a spreadsheet that organizes my spreadsheets. If that doesn’t horrify you, you’re my kind of person. My lists have lists. Nothing makes me happier than taking organized notes that get placed into organized spreadsheets that get organized on my computer. I am a freak. 

This is a real thing I use

This is a real thing I use

Recently, a few weekends went by where I felt like I had wasted my time, and though I got some much-needed sleep, I felt unrested and unsettled. Those were the weekends without To Do lists. In the past couple of weeks I have come to embrace the fact that my life just runs more smoothly with lists. I can go with the flow, change my plans, and like to think I’m not an insane control freak (maybe..). But I just work better when I can write something down on paper and then run a ball point pen right through it. 

And yet, I also have a sketchbook with me full of wildly unorganized, sprawling thoughts. If you picked it up and read through it you’d probably recoil at my illegible handwriting, slightly terrifying doodles, and garishly colored highlighter reminders. Not to mention the organized chaos that is my room: endless stacks of papers and books and crumpled old mail that would horrify any sane person.


It’s taken me 24 years to realize that the reason I need lists and spreadsheets is the same reason I need a messy room and a sketchbook of unorganized thoughts—I cause chaos just to reign it in. Throw every idea at the wall and then carefully sweep up all the ones that don’t stick, placing them into their proper excel cell. Let yourself sink into a messy room for the joy of finally organizing a pile of important papers and alphebatizing old books. Make a mess of a life… and then find the pieces worth cleaning up and keeping. 

And so it’s with joy, and spreadsheets, and sketchbooks that I sit at a coffee shop today enjoying my organized mess of a life. 

And in case you’re wondering, my go to’s for organizing chaos:

  • Wunderlist: a basic but wildly helpful to do list app. You can make recurring to do’s (my Thursday spreadsheet update for work), set reminders (shit, it’s Sunday I’ve got an email to send), and satisfyingly check off your done tasks to watch your list get shorter. 
  • Google Drive: I’m a pen and paper kind of person, but I’ve learned to embrace the power of Drive. When my recipes are all logged in a perfectly organized Google Sheet, I can access them from my phone at the grocery store and quickly see what ingredients I need. Oh, and I guess it helps with real work too. 
  • Sketchbook: Contrary to how it may seem, a blank page is my best friend. Leave your lined pages and gridded sheets for a more strictly organized person. I need expansive blank space to scrawl, scribble and doodle every thought out of my head before I loose it, something that a computer won’t let me do. 

My iPhone: A Love/Hate Relationship

My friend and foe


Dear iPhone,

This is hard for me to write, because you’ve done so much for me. What I’m about to say, however, needs to be said.

I’ve learned in life you always begin and end with a pro, so let me start by admitting how much easier you make some parts of my life. You wake me when I need to be woken and play me white noise when I need to sleep. You give me daily reminders to take my vitamins. You let me have the score of the game I’m missing right at my fingertips. Just the other day I used an assortment of your features to navigate the daunting bus system of San Francisco.

For all of that, I am grateful.

But I’ve got a bone to pick with you. I keep forgetting about emails that I got from a random family member because I get them while I’m busy doing practice GRE tests. I keep neglecting that friend who facebook messaged me because her message came while I was out to dinner. I’ve forgetten important tasks because your reminder switched times when I traveled across time zones.

I know, I know, you’re just going to tell me I shouldn’t open those messages until I have time to take care of them. Which brings me to my second point: stop taunting me with the red notifications! You know I’m a little type-A, and you know I’m going to open every single app until I figure out how to make all the red dots go away. In fact I’m struggling to finish this letter right now because there’s number 1 encased in a red circle daring me to vanquish it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for all the ways you help me. But it seems rather silly that I have to make a reminder on my phone to remind myself to look at an email that I opened just because my phone buzzed and I had to.

Don’t look at me that way. You’re the one with the problems, not me.

Okay maybe it’s me.

I know I said I’d end on a positive so I’ll stay true to my word. I appreciate the fact that you let me stay in touch with the boyf across the country, with my parents when I’m a little scatter brained, with my friends via group chat. It’s all very kind of you.

Luckily for you I’ve got another year before I will formally reassess our relationship. Until then, I sincerely hope you think about what I’ve said, and maybe work on the whole battery draining situation.



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