Monday, August 6, 2012

Spreadsheets Aplenty

In case you hadn't gathered from the maps and the lists, I'm a pretty organized person. One of my favorite tools for organizing my like if Microsoft Excel. My first spreadsheets for Operation Highlander were drafted in Spring of 2010, shortly after Aunt Jo planted the idea in my head.

The original spreadsheets dealt with two aspects of the plan: gear, and operating costs. Gear included things like clothing, entertainment, field equipment, and such. Operating costs included things like tuition, living expenses, the cost of keeping things like my mobile phone and car insurance paid for back home, flights, and the like. Excel was great because I could plug in a couple of simple scripts, like a cascading cell system that allowed me to easily account for changes in the exchange rate between the dollar and the British pound.

My spreadsheets for Operation Highlander were copied and retooled for my sojourn to the Middle East, which was a good pre-Highlander exercise. I've since used Excel to come up with a variety of additional spreadsheets to help me through the process of preparing for Scotland.

  • Goals/Time: (2 spreadsheets) These sheets helped me to track tasks I needed to complete before leaving the Middle East, and before leaving for Scotland, and the timeline in which I needed to complete them.
  • Ricochet/Current/Old Plans: (3 spreadsheets) Ricochet is my current "operation", so named because I've arrived in one location before almost immediately bouncing to another. My Current and Old Plans worksheets include Highlander, other potential near term plans, as well as former plans (like Carnivore - my deployment to the Middle East) that I've archived for reference purposes.
  • Writing/Bibliography: (2 spreadsheets) These spreadsheets contain the writing outlines for my potential dissertations, as well as my source list. The source list will become especially useful when I'm working on the bibliography for my dissertation.
  • Training/Readings: (2 spreadsheets) I've had a lot of readings to keep track of as I've prepared for grad school, as well as a number of other certifications for my risk management work.
  • ME Pay/Forecast/Old Money: (3 spreadsheets) Excel has been great for tracking my money over the last couple of years. I've used it to forecast and track my earnings. Like the Operation Highlander portions of the Current Plans spreadsheet, I made great use of Excel's cascading matrix and formulas to do the heavy mathematical lifting for me.
  • Travel: Finally, my Travel sheet has helped me to organize my travel goals, of which I've spoken previously. At some point, particularly if I get to North Africa and especially if I have an opportunity to travel throughout Continental Europe, the organizational boost I get from using Excel will help me to plan an efficient route so that I don't waste time covering any ground twice.
    I've already posted a few of my spreadsheets, and as appropriate, I'll post more as time goes on. Stay tuned to learn more about the trip and how I've planned for it.
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