I love this quote from Patrick McKenzie:
Every spreadsheet shared in a business is an angel announcing another SaaS app still needs to be built.
Well the inverse is true too: Many SaaS apps could be replaced by a spreadsheet that’s better suited to your needs.
I’ve tried so many apps for tracking long-term goals and none really clicked until I ended up building a spreadsheet instead.
Inspired by GitHub’s commit squares
and Simone Gertz’s Every Day Calendar
my goal tracking app is a Google Docs spreadsheet:
It has a combination of features that I haven’t found in any other app.
I open the spreadsheet, type anything in the relevant cell, and it turns green with a conditional formatting rule.
Unlike streak-based apps, I can track intermittent activities. I don’t want to run everyday, and I change my running schedule few months to fit around other aspects of my life.
I don’t need to stress about losing a Duolingo streak when skipping an entire day flying over the international date line
or feel pressured to continue running while recovering from an injury.
Square-based design makes it easy to see both long term trends as well as how I’ve done over the last few days. I can begin a new goal without committing to a certain frequency.
Google Sheets is a much better app than any productivity startup could make. It’s responsive and cross-platform. It has cloud syncing, offline editing, csv exporting, two-factor authentication, and API access.
Google as a company is stable and wont run out of funding in a few weeks. Yeah Google doesn’t have a great track record with product longevity, but their record a lot better than VC funded B2C apps.
My week starts on a Monday.
I like green.
I don’t use week numbers.
I only want to track binary yes/no goals.
Streaks/chains just don’t work for me. I’ve been using this spreadsheet for over a year now, and it really has helped me achieve some long term goals.