The Best Way to Track All Your Accomplishments in 2024


I’m not ashamed to say it: New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. I love a designated time to look back, look forward, and get tipsy with friends. The new year is also the time when I’m most grateful for my habit of writing down every little thing. And I don’t just mean getting my thoughts and feelings down in a journal. I’m talking about tracking every book read, every mile run, and every beer crushed (approximately). If you’re interested in documenting your life—and you should be—may I recommend the humble spreadsheet.

Before you start rolling your eyes: no, I’m not talking about bullet journaling (which can be cool, but which I find too artistically daunting). I simply create a Google sheet full of different color-coded tabs so that I can track any number of ways to measure a year. From the most thorough travel plans to elaborate to-do lists: If you have a goal, your goal needs a spreadsheet. It’s a fun, slightly nerdy technique that helps me visualize my life in a way that traditional journaling can’t. Here’s why I think this year, you should start your own spreadsheet to track all the little things in your life.

The case for documenting your life

I know that writing daily journal entries isn’t everyone’s “thing.” However, journaling can be so much more than jotting down a few measly feelings, and there are plenty of benefits to getting out of your comfort zone and giving it a shot. Keeping a journal is a useful way to reduce stress, identify and solve problems, and generally clear your head.

Even if you aren’t trying to deliberately define or process your mental state, documenting your life can be a beautiful thing, whether via tools like 1 Second Everyday videos, whether to track your workouts, document your child’s life, or simply capture the passage of time (that tricky bastard). For me, the real value of these videos isn’t always the finished product. It’s the fact that every day for the last four years, I’ve managed to find at least one worthwhile moment to capture. And that’s the mindset I bring to my spreadsheet journal: Adding a little meaning to the mundane.

Anything can be an achievement

The spreadsheet journal is perfect for us freaks who like to combine sentimentalism with statistics. Whatever metrics you choose to jot down, you can frame them around a sense of accomplishment. Your smart watch can track how many steps you’ve taken. A spreadsheet journal, however, is where you can appreciate how many steps you’ve achieved. From there, you can have fun with the numbers, converting those steps into miles or finding patterns over time or in whatever suits your nerdy brain.

Go wild. Create different tabs dedicated to different areas of your life, so you can appreciate how much you have going on. I’ll throw around some ideas in the next section, but at the end of the day, a spreadsheet is a low-effort, high-reward alternative to trying to use your words all the time, so don’t get too caught up in the details. The technique is really about recognizing the value in every little number that defines your life.

Starting your spreadsheet

First things first: Choose your spreadsheet software. I opt for the ease of Google Sheets, but I understand you might have some privacy concerns there. Or maybe you’re simply a master at Excel. For some formatting ideas, check out this post on creating the ultimate travel spreadsheet. The main takeaway is to create one master file with as many different tabs as you see fit. Include tabs tracking your health/fitness goals, books/movies/TV you’ve consumed, your finances/budgeting, and whatever else is significant to you:

Unlock your spreadsheet’s power

You can dedicate a column in each tab for jotting down miscellaneous notes, but for the sake of tidiness, make sure not to overfill your boxes with text. It also helps to stay consistent with your formatting—e.g. bolding the header of each metric. I color code at whim. For instance, as a stand-up comedian, I keep track of all my shows with a specific color to mark how I felt about them: Shades of green mean the show went well, and shades of red mean the show went…less well. In times where it looks like everything is red, it’s nice to be able to shift my gaze to all the green, too.

At the end of the year, you’ll be able to use all that data to visualize both the big and the little things in your life over the 12 months prior. At a glance, you’ll be able to pat yourself on the back for how successfully you cut back on caffeine, or upped your time outdoors, or improved your books-started to books-completed ratio. Ultimately, my own spreadsheet is about appreciating all the little things in my life, even if I do so in one of the nerdiest ways imaginable.

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