“Life in the early 21st century wasn’t supposed to be so hectic. In a 1930 essay, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour work week by 2030, when we’d all have time to enjoy ‘the hour and the day virtuously and well,’” reports Brigid Schulte in The Washington Post.
Does this sound anything like your life in 2016? No? Well, it doesn’t reflect the life of anyone I know, either. While the goal of technology was to make life more efficient, somehow the opposite has happened since we seem to be working harder than ever with the convenience of the Internet and the portability of handheld devices. However, here are some free, downloadable Excel templates that will prove that technology CAN simplify your life.
This is obviously the most popular spreadsheet because we all need to keep track of our income and spending. While many banks, credit card companies, and credit unions provide some program which can break your spending into categories, creating your own spreadsheet with a set budget can ensure that you are living within your means.
Troy Barto’s yearly and monthly budget tracking spreadsheet lets you project income and savings. Microsoft also provides a free template that easy to use and interpret. You can monitor your income, expenses and even compare month to month spending.
It seems terribly ironic that so much stress can go into planning a restful vacation and that’s why a spreadsheet can be one of your favorite tools. From planning your budget to creating your packing list to setting a daily itinerary to see the sites, all of your information can be contained in one place (and you won’t even forget to bring your toothbrush). If you’re looking for an itinerary template, this is a great starting point because it includes information you didn’t even know you should have as you prepare for a trip. It provides columns for packing lists, trip schedule, flight schedules, and travel dates, but did you also consider listing blood types for you and your companions or emergency contact numbers? Me either!
3. Health & Fitness
Diet and exercise are important for your well-being and yet keeping track of calorie intake or weight loss can seem like just another thing to do. A spreadsheet can make this unpleasant task easy, especially since it can do all of the calculations for you. Excel Templates has a great calculator so you know exactly how many calories your body requires based on your personal specifications. Want to keep track of the calories you’re burning while exercising? You can download a template here which also provides graphs to display weight progress and daily habits. There are also a variety of weight tracking charts like this one so that you can monitor your progress.
4. Chore Charts
Let’s face it: if your kids did their chores, then you could stop doing them. That would definitely simplify your life. I chose this chart not because of its style or contents, but because it ties in an allowance gauge to also teach money management skills. It’s a great starting point for you to customize a spreadsheet that will work for your family dynamics.
5. Medication Log
There are approximately 76 million Baby Boomers which means that if you aren’t one, than you just may be caring for one. As we tend to the aging members of our population, adhering to a complicated medication list becomes an important job. This website gives detailed instructions on how to use a medication log such as when to take the medication, what the pill looks like, what ailment it addresses, dosage, refill number, and other vital information.
6. Meal Planner
Meal planning website Gathered Table found that if you plan your dinners ahead of time, you could save 3 hours and $50 or more per week (plus you’ll have less stress, make fewer trips to the grocery store, and you’ll eat much healthier!). To make planning easier, try this downloadable spreadsheet from Vertex42 to decide on your main dish, sides, and to create your grocery list for the week.
7. Project/Event Template
From weddings to birthday parties to remodeling projects, we all need a tool that keeps us on track to complete an intricate job. This spreadsheet helps you to divide your big project into bite-sized pieces so that you can create mini-deadlines to guarantee that everything gets done on or ahead of schedule. For example, if you are planning your wedding you can set deadlines starting a year from your projected wedding date; 12 months out you’ll need to book a venue, at six months you’ll need to order bridesmaids’ dresses, three months before the wedding you’ll order your cake, at two months it’s time to experiment with hairstyles, etc.
Life gets complicated, regardless if you have multiple kids or multiple business appointments. On WinCalendar you can download a variety of calendars with different formats from weekly to monthly versions. This is perfect for reminding yourself of anniversary dates or birthdays. Or for the professional, this is a helpful tool for scheduling meetings with details as to time, place, and materials that you need to bring. You won’t ever worry about forgetting tomorrow’s doctor’s appointment or picking up your kid from baseball practice when your schedule is at your fingertips.
9. To-do List/Team Project
Maybe a calendar isn’t the right format for you; you may have a list of things to do without definitive dates that they need to be completed by. Furthermore, you may have a work project that involves several people and you need to monitor what stage of progress each member is at. Try this shared to-do list template to make certain that everyone is on the same page. You can make a job list, report on the status of progress being made, address who is responsible for each task, and include any notes that need to be shared.
10. Gift Lists
Santa’s not the only one who has to make a list and check it twice. For the past five years I’ve made an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the 30+ family members, teachers, friends, and co-workers that I need to buy presents for. This list helps me to stay on budget, keep track of gift receipts, and prevent repeat gifts from previous years. I also start shopping in September so that my bank account doesn’t get hit all at once and I can scour the sales to get the best items and deals. (Okay, I just may be a tad OCD.) This list also works great for year-round birthday present giving.
Starting a spreadsheet from scratch is arduous. These templates will set you up for success.You'll also get a head start on building a powerful mobile app from your spreadsheet data. In the end you’ll have less stress, frustration, and of course, more time!