Interactive Task List: A Google Sheets Tool to Manage Projects [3 Min Read]

My love affair with Microsoft Excel (and Google Sheet) extends far back and likely stems from my interest with mathematics and engineering. However, I wont bore you with any further details. Just know I find these tools very useful when it comes to managing project cost estimates, client directories, proposal/submittal log tracking, graphic dashboards, personal budgeting and vacations. Everyone gravitates to methods and programs that serve them best. Allow me to introduce you to an simple interactive task list tracker I built in Google Sheets. Perhaps it can help you out.

We all have numerous tasks to complete at work and in our personal lives on any given day. As much as I enjoy manual reminders binders, notepads and sticky notes, they can be cumbersome and even get misplaced. In the past I would have a Microsfot Word and use it as a running log for tasks. This method was decent but lacked some practicality. Hence the interactive tracker.

Daily/Weekly Task List

Its quite simple actually. The header contains information that you can tailor to your own needs; however, for this example I created areas to input your Company Name, Branch/Area, Project Manager Name (you or your colleague), and an automated cell that populates the current date.

The first column just itemizes your tasks, as you drag these cells down they continue the order. Columns “Contract Number”, “Project Name”, “Task Description” and “Date Due” are fairly self explanatory. Adding as much detail to these categories as you can will benefit you more on the backend of managing these projects, especially if it is a task that will take a substantial amount of time to complete. The second column highlight in a light blue color states whether a task is open or closed. Do not alter these cells, by default they state “Open” (note that these cell are driven by other conditional formatting clauses).

There are two conditional fomulas with this active worksheet. The first is driven by due dates. If a Due Date cell is not blank the cells will check to see if its value is within a 7 Day window from Todays Date. If so, the cell will automatically become highlighted by a red color. This will be your call to action Batman (consider these higher priorities).

The second condition is activated by the user activating the checkbox by a click. This triggers three different actions: the status text will be changed to “Close”, the row will be grayed out and a timestamp will be populated showing when the task was completed.

I am working on a script feature to have the red highlighted “Due Date” alert triggers also send out a quick email. I think it would be a cool programming exercise…Anyhow if you would like the link to download the beta copy to your Google Drive click here.

Film: Hollywood Light Design for Zoom Meetings

People despise restrictions, yet the proper ones may spark creative breakthroughs. We have discussed a few ways in which you can maintain your spark. This is inclusive of timely relaxation, personal hobbies, self-paced courses, reading, exercise, to surrounding yourself/engaging with optimistic people. For me its getting lost in film and understanding how cinematography works and how to emulate some of my favorite cinematic scenes.

I’d like to take this time to introduce you to lighting and perhaps some of these tips may help you with anything from zoom calls, taking pictures of friends, capturing vacation videos or helping you determine the lighting for your next shot list on a music video. Don’t worry this wont be overly technical, trust me. Breathe and laugh. To begin, understand the photography and videography is the process of capturing light and in certain cases the manipulation of such light.

Lets take a baby step with this approach. What are the basic elements of light?

Intensity This often relates to the the brightness or “quantity” of light used. There are two originating sources, artificial (powered light sources/lamps) or ambient (naturally occurring, the best example is the Sun). Intensity can be control by altering the distance of a light source

QualityThis characteristic is more abstract. Soft light originates from a diffused source and appears non-directional. Soft light casts shadows that are not very well defined] . Hard light is directed, sharp, and produces strong shadows and intense highlights. Another way to soften light is to increase the size of the light and bring it closer to the subject.

Temperature – Is a term that describes how warm or cool the light is coming from a source. The temperature or color of light may has major impact on the mood of an environment or video scene. Warmer light (lower Kelvin values) creates a welcoming ambiance and tends to improve skin tones, whilst cooler light (higher Kelvin values) creates a crisp/invigorating atmospheres that promote alertness.

Source: https://www.thelightingpractice.com/what-is-color-temperature/

Direction – Direction gives form and texture to lighting. To be more specific, the width of the shadows are controlled by the direction of light. The contrast between the lit and darkened areas of the subject and its surrounds will be the source of the feelings that you will convey in your digital content. There a few core directions:

  • Consider an XY Graph, Light can be placed in any angle around the subject. In some cases indirect lighting can be flattering (i.e. bounce off of a wall).
  • Additionally light can be angled down or upwards. The options are infinite to create and array of moods.

Here is a simple setup that can improve the professional appearance of your next presentation on a Zoom or Microsoft Teams call. You will need some cheap items, some of which you may already have in your household:

  • Laptop with a webcam
  • A medium to large window with thin drapes (you can substitute drapes for a frost vinyl shower curtain from Walmart for about $7).
  • 20 x 30 of Foam Core Board (you can substitute with a White T-Shirt on a hanger). These are about $3 at Walmart or Michaels.

Setup: This setup assumes that you have sufficient sunlight coming through your window, if not replace the window with a lap with a soft daylight bulb. If you choose the lamp option, be sure to point the light source at the wall so you are lit by the reflecting light. Close the drapes or thumbtack the vinyl shower curtain over the window to help soften the lighting. Set up the direction of your laptop and your body to be approximately 45 degrees away from your window. You should be relatively close to the window. Lean the foam core board against something on your desk so that it is parallel to you an bounces light back on the opposite side of your face to fill in some of the shadows. Adjust the board to your liking. Voila! The most simple setup to improve the quality of your video. I would love to see how this setup works for you. Send me a link to a screenshot from your call in the chat.

Transport: Paperback & Podcasts

“Double down on what is working to make a purposeful shift in a new, related direction” – Jenny Blake (Author of Pivot).

How many times have you found yourself so consumed in your everyday life and work, that you have trouble finding time to enrich your mind? YouTube University is great but not what I am getting at. What was the title of the last book you completed in its entirety? If its been a while I’ll expand this question to include audiobooks and podcasts which have many similarities. Todays world is filled with people constantly being exposed to fast-paced digital content. This effectively trains our minds to absorb information at a faster rate but superficially. Authors come up with unique story subjects, and consuming them unconsciously helps you achieve the same in your professional career in more ways than one.

Source: https://www.cnet.com/tech/

Reading may help you build empathy, which is a vital skill to have in your profession. Empathy grows when you find parallels with characters and learn to comprehend their experiences and acknowledge their emotions. You will effectively broaden your exposure to differing vantage points and fresh perspectives, which may improve your relationships with your business counterparts or in your personal life.

Plus, completing a book is rewarding. It instills a sense of perseverance. A form of digital detox. Personally, I find more enjoyment balancing a few novels at a time. I try to complete about 10 pages to a chapter in a single sitting, if not more. I’m still developing a regular cadence but as I have found some breaks are more extended than others… Just remember to come back.

What’s on my current and prospective reading list?

  • Think Like A Monk – Jay Shetty
  • The 50th Law – Robert Greene
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil DeGrasse Tyson
  • As it relates to podcast here are some of my favorites: Earn Your Leisure, Invest Talk, Real Estate News with Kathy Fettke, Stuff You Should Know, The Side Hustle Show.

Leave me a book recommendation in the comment section below?

Challenge: Rewrite Normal [3 Min Read]

Trying to shift viewpoints when individuals have deeply established notions about how things should be might be one of the most difficult aspects of working. Have you ever found yourself in a rut? This can occur if you have kept the same position for an extended period of time or if you’re surrounded by uninspired people. Your capacity to think creatively will be hampered by stagnation, monotonous tasks or your environment. The first step is to diagnose the issue or in this case identify longstanding routines that may not add value to your workflow. Ask yourself can these tasks be improved, updated or standardized to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete. Understand the value chain of events related. What’s upstream and downstream in relation to this routine?

Creativity begins with questions. Question processes and conceptual approaches, and you’ll see that you’ll grow to be more involved, inquisitive, and inventive. Questions should be followed by you engaging with peers in a conducive meeting. Do you subscribe to  any podcasts or attend industry events? Are you a member of professional organizations in your field or community? These are all useful resources than can be sound boards or spark new ideas. At the minimum promote a healthy environment that supports brainstorming and host think tank sessions regularly. Collaboration is about conversation.

What task in your workplace is in need of an update? Can you assemble a team to help you tackle it?

For Film Creatives: What narratives around you are in need of a visual stage?

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