If there is one thing that technology is NOT supposed to be, it is a waste of time.
In fact, isn’t the point of technology to help us do everything smarter, better, and most importantly, faster? This is especially true of Excel. Before we had spreadsheets, we had to write lists out on paper, scan down them with our fingers hoping not to miss any details, count things up manually, and generally spending thousands upon thousands of extra hours looking at data and doing calculations that Excel can complete in mere seconds. When Excel came along, time-savings and efficiency skyrocketed - but it seems like mostly for the people who really know and understand the system inside and out. But what about everybody else that has to use it? Sometimes it can seem like instead of saving time, Excel is costing more time in all the unknowns, the mistakes, the error messages, the weird results, and the seemingly endless amount of Google searching that can be done to try to find the right answer to an Excel question.
No one goes from 0 to 60 their first time.
Even those people who seem to know how to do everything and anything in Excel didn’t start out that way. Everyone has to learn how to use Excel at their own pace. For some people that will be slower than others. A slow start can sometimes be a big roadblock for learning and practicing Excel. And that is understandable - it is counter-intuitive to consider putting in a ton of time just learning how to use a system that is supposed to save you all that time in just being able to “do it for you.” It’s true, there is no getting around this. However long you need to learn Excel is how long it takes. But luckily there is one thing that you can depend on from learning Excel:
However much time you put into learning Excel now, you will save yourself double that time or more in the future.
This is always the hardest part - and in some cases it can seem like a leap of faith. It can be especially hard to remember and believe when there is a time-crunch or a deadline that has to be met. And at those moments, it might not be the right time to sit down to learn and practice all of the potential time-saving functions that Excel has to offer. But whenever it is possible, taking the time to learn and practice will pay off dividends in future time-savings.
To get you started on your path towards being faster and more efficient in Excel, here are XX tips that you can use right now that I guarantee will save you time as soon as you start using them:
1. Highlight rows and columns with keyboard shortcuts
When you need to highlight an entire row or column, a simple keystroke can do this for you with speed and accuracy. Just hit Ctrl+spacebar to highlight an entire column or Shift+spacebar to highlight an entire row. Happily, this is one of the few keyboard shortcuts that are exactly the same on both a PC and a Mac.
2. Find (and Replace) anything in your spreadsheet
There are times when you just want to find something - a word or a number - quickly in your spreadsheet. You can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+F / Command+F to open the Find function, or hit the Find & Select button on the Home tab.
This is also where you can switch over to the Replace function, if you need to replace all instances of a word or set of characters with something else.
3. Check out two spreadsheets at the same time (View side-by-side)
Do you have the same or similar data on two spreadsheets, and you need to look at them both at once? It is so easy in Excel! While both spreadsheets are open, go to the View tab on either one and hit “View Side by Side.”
4. Copy your formatting from one cell to the next
Have you figured out the most beautiful display of information in one place in your spreadsheet, and wish that you could copy all of that work from one place to the next? Copy-and-paste won’t cut it because you’ll write-over whatever text is already in your other cells. So instead, you can use the Format Painter. Select the format you want to copy, click on the little paintbrush in the Home tab, and then select where you want that formatting to go!
5. Remove duplicate values
There are so many reasons why you might need to get rid of duplicate values. Just one of those could be if you want to get a list of unique values from a column in your spreadsheet. Using the Remove Duplicates function in Excel will get rid of the duplicate values, so make sure that you either want those duplicates deleted OR isolate the data you are manipulating. Other than that, it is so simple - highlight the cells that you want to remove duplicates from, and on the Data tab click on the Remove Duplicates button: