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. 

Rainy Monday Part II: Forced Productivity and Getting Healthy

Rainy Mondays are starting to become a trend. This Monday, however, I managed to get out of the house before the torrential downpour started, trapping me in Starbucks with nothing to do but work. The forced productivity is a bit of a blessing in disguise since my weekend trip to Maine drained me of all desire to work. I sat there staring out at the pond thinking if all else fails I can just go live in the cabin until my money runs out. And let me tell you, that’s a pretty great sounding backup plan.

Not a shabby place to be

The rain, however, has forced me to be productive beyond my initial GRE study plans, and here I am applying to jobs and reading some of L’Etranger. I’m trying to be optimistic about jobs, but it’s hit the point where I may punch the next person to tell me “oh you’ll definitely totally for sure have a job by the end of July for sure no doubt” in the face. Unfortunately, channeling that frustration and rage into cover letters doesn’t seem like a great approach, since frustrated rage letters don’t scream “employable.”

Instead I’m trying to channel the frust-rage-tion (you heard it here first–it’s the new “frindle”) into working out and eating healthier. It’s been on my To Do list for a couple years now (*cough*freshmanfifteen*cough*) but I knew I wouldn’t ever really do anything about it until I graduated. Let’s be honest, college is really the only time in your life when you can order wings and a calzone, watch 10 hours of Restaurant Impossible and call it all a “hangover cure,” so clearly I was going to capitalize on that.

In honor of my quest to be just a teensy bit healthier, I’ll share some of my favorite healthy(er) blogs:

  • Eat Yourself Skinny: Kelly at Eat Yourself Skinny always posts recipes that look and taste incredible despite the fact that they’re often “skinny” versions of recipes. I can’t help drooling over her recipes, even the simpler ones like this grilled honey-orange chicken salad. It doesn’t hurt that she’s funny, posts links to other great blogs, and includes dessert recipes which is pretty much a must for me, since I’m just self-aware enough to know that I’ll never give up my sweet tooth.
  • The recipes that Gina posts always look good and often get me to try new ingredients and flavor profiles. Her asian mango slaw has made it into my regular rotation, and I’ve always got at least one of her recipes on my “Try It Soon” list. Next up? I’m definitely going to make this salad for lunch some day this week.
  • Fit Fab Cities: I mostly use this blog for the printable workouts and workout playlists. But I initially was drawn to Fit Fab Cities because of blogger Caitlin’s stance on being fit: “I’m not one of those girls who can survive on lean protein and steamed veggies alone. I love a great cheese pizza and given my devotion to chocolate chip cookies I have a feeling watching Cookie Monster as a kid had a profound effect on me.” Amen sister.

With that, I’ll stop writing about being productive and get to it. That cover letter isn’t going to finish itself, even though I’m literally sitting here willing it to be done. On second thought, the sun is coming out, and I’ve got a kindle book that’s dying to be read..