excel-ing at organization [hioml pt. 3]

Straight up, this title is a lie. I used Google Sheets instead of Excel but only because of *the cloud*. Sorry Excel, I still love you though.

Being a political science major means that I have stacks of readings to do. Really, we students all have readings to do I just whine about mine. Sometimes it’s straight forward, like ‘read this 60 page chapter’ and sometimes you take a block course (double the workload but half the run time) and you get thrown 10 readings per week. If you couldn’t tell with the previous installments of the HIOML series, I really like making sure I stay organized during school. So last year I created a readings tracker.

Yeah, you read that right – I track all my readings because I’m not even going to try to hide that I’m a neurotic nerd. Nerd-rotic? Oh, that sounds kind of…inappropriate. Disregard.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 9.55.10 PM
Readings Tracker v.1.0

During the same session where I throw all my assignments/classes/tests into Google Calendar, I compile this giant spreadsheet of all my readings for every class that I have to do. Fair warning this takes a while depending on how many classes you have readings for and if you go into as much details as I do. I’m pretty sure I was just catching up on TV as I put this together so maybe do that if you’re going to put something like this together.

The screenshot above is the one that I created for my 2B term. I think the only thing that didn’t make it into this term’s version is the Date to Read column, only because I didn’t find it that useful in the end. Things are still colour-coded by class and have a “read by” date.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 1.47.16 PM
Readings Tracker v.2.0

I did some overhauling on this version of the tracker. I guess if this was a changelog it would look a little like:

  • Changed platform from desktop (Excel) to cloud (Google Sheets) for accessibility across devices.
  • Added links column for non-textbook readings online for faster access + accessibility across devices.
  • Added pages count + estimated read time for better schedule planning.
    • Honest to God, this was my most innovative idea yet and had a lot to do with the fact that I would always underestimate how long a reading would take me, especially when I got distracted.
    • The formula I used for this was # of pages multiplied by 3 minutes – a highly accurate and scientific estimation based on how long I took to do the first week of readings, then gave myself some room in case I got distracted or readings were misleading and were actual double pages in a PDF. I prefer to schedule in more time than I need so that I feel really good about myself when I finish ahead of time, ha!
      • Note: I did add another column called: Actual Reading Time that I’m using to calibrate the estimation for later this term/next term’s version.
  • Added estimated notes time for better schedule planning.
    • Same rationale as the read time, but the formula is a little different. Basically for classes where I also make notes after doing the readings I read through it once and then I go back and take the notes. I find I only recap about 1/4 of the pages at an approximate rate of 3 minutes allocated per page.
  • Added in conditional formatting for the completion columns so I can glance and see how many readings I’m behind for.

And that’s basically a summary of how I track my course readings. I have no idea how many of you are going to want to do something similar to this, likely none because I know I’m a little bit crazy, but if you do I created a copy of this sheet so you can edit it for your own courses. I did it course by course, colour-coded, and then sorted by due date, juuuust in case anyone was wondering the best way to go about that.

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