Spreadsheet Productivity

A while back I asked Mike Cassidy about his productivity method. Here is what he said:

Hey Joel,

Here’s my system.  I’m sure it’s not the most efficient system in the world, but it works for me.
– I have a big list of over 150 todo items in an excel spreadsheet.  2 columns: “date” and “action item”
– Over the course of the day, I’ll jot down on paper new todo’s to add.
– At the end of the day, I’ll add the new todo’s into my spreadsheet and assign a date to each one.
– Then I sort the spreadsheet by date.
– I’ll look at all the items listed for the next day.  Usually about 20.  Then I may push some out to a later date (for follow up) or cross some of the list if they’re done.  So maybe I have 15 left.  I print those out.
– The next day when I come in I have my 15 todo items ready to go.
– One good thing is that it’s easy to follow up on stuff because it’s easy to push dates out for follow up….
Mike 🙂


Here’s a sparse example of this simple method. You can view the google doc here.

Spreadsheet Productivity


What is great about this?
  1. Simplicity
  2. Speed
  3. Commit

The simplicity and speed should be apparent. The daily review is key, too. But as I’ve thought over this method for a few years, I think the hinge that makes it brilliant is this:

It forces the commit.

You must prune the master list daily, perhaps before you even put it down. But then what you do enter into the system MUST have a date! It instantly brings a time demand to the entry.

This method both scares and intrigues me (scares because you HAVE to commit) and intrigues because it seems that consistently following it could have a great impact on how you make decisions and plan.

My guess is that this method plays extremely well with Mike’s business approach of “speed as competitive advantage.”

(Find the slides here.)

At the moment of this posting, I’m primarily using a 2 list system in Evernote. However, I might just need to give this method another try!

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