Unusual Uses of Excel for Writers

Regular readers know I’m a little spreadsheet crazy. I’ve offered you a spreadsheet for time and motion studies and another for tracking your productivity. And I’m not the only one, because you’ll notice that Michael Hyatt’s ideal week is plotted on a spreadsheet.

When I wrote about tools, I mentioned some of the things Excel spreadsheets can do, and noted that there might be a whole other post in that.

To-do Lists

If you format your Excel spreadsheet using one of the table options under the Tables tab of the Ribbon, you’ll see arrows appear in each column heading. This lets you sort the list by any column. Continue reading

Choose the Right Time Management Tools

The tricky thing about choosing the “right” time management tools is that the right tool for me may be the wrong tool for you. And the tool for one task may be inappropriate for another. So I’ll give you some options. Test them out and keep looking for others.

Cal Newport of the Study Hacks blog makes an interesting observation:

  • High-tech and highly-structured solutions are best for capture.
  • Low-tech and loosely-structured solutions are best for planning.
Stack of Sticky Note Pads over a white background.

Photo by Chris Dorney • Fotolia

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Q&A: Do we really need Microsoft Word?

question answer

© JJAVA • Fotolia.com

I’ve been asking myself this question lately, because Microsoft’s business strategy has turned positively creepy.

To encourage people to move to its new subscription model, Office 365, Microsoft changed the licensing on Office 2013 to tie each copy of Office to a specific piece of hardware. In other words, if you install Office on your laptop today, and tomorrow the laptop is stolen, you not only have to buy a new laptop, you have to pay full price for a new copy of Office to install on it. Seriously. Read more about Microsoft’s new Office license policy over at PC World. Continue reading

Behold the power of the outline

At a chamber fellowship meeting, I was once asked to share my top editing tip. Didn’t have to think long about it: outline.

Snowflake can identify your chapter breaks based on scene length.

Snowflake can identify your chapter breaks based on scene length.

I resisted outlining for many years, because it reeked of term papers and therefore seemed uncreative. Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Pro software convinced me otherwise. Designed for novel-writing, it takes you from premise to outline in nine steps. When you’re done, it will compile your entries into a proposal. Continue reading