3 Reasons Why You Should or Shouldn't Use Excel Templates

Excel templates are Excel files that come with pre-made formatting and calculations. Using Excel templates has its advantages - they are set up to do things that you don’t know how to make Excel do yet. So you get the chance to just put in the data that is relevant to you, and then everything pre-built should do the math, add the colors, and hopefully get you to some new information that you wouldn’t have been able to get on your own.

There are uncountable Excel templates out there for anything you might need to do: budgeting, fundraising, project management, event planning, calendaring, gradebooks, attendance tracking. Basically if you have a need, there is a high probability that someone has made an Excel template for it, and you can go find it on the internet. There are some pretty amazing ones here: https://www.smartsheet.com/top-excel-budget-templates

Excel templates can be really great - they can get you started working in Excel, give you ideas about how things can be set up in Excel, show you what is possible in Excel, and if everything is working out just how you need it, then it can save you the time and the energy it would have taken you to learn how to build something like it yourself. Excel templates tend to take advantage of some of the best and most important benefits that Excel offers: automation, data validation, dynamic updates, beautiful formatting, etc.

But Excel templates can also hold you back. Only the most simple of templates are perfectly easy to use. A lot of templates come with shiny features and lots to take advantage of - but that also means you have to figure out if everything in there is relevant to you. Because things are set up in ways that you might not understand, it is super difficult to change anything to fit your specific needs and it is super easy to break something in the template. Plus, you cheat yourself of trying to figure out on your own how to do all these cool Excel things. You can get frustrated when things don’t work out, because you don’t understand what is going on in the spreadsheet to make it all work.

So basically, the top 3 reasons to use Excel templates are sort of the same reasons why you shouldn’t use them:

Why you should use Excel templates Why you should NOT use Excel templates
1. Everything is built already, so you don’t have the frustration of trying to make it work yourself. 1. Everything is built already, so you can get easily frustrated when it doesn’t fit your specific needs and you aren’t able to customize it.
2. Templates usually have the best that Excel can offer: automation, data validation, great formatting, dynamic updates, and more. You get to take advantage of them all. 2. Templates usually have the best that Excel can offer, but you aren’t learning how any of it works or how to do it yourself. The templates tend to lead you away from a growth mindset and keep you away from learning - templates might be of some help in the short-term, but in the long-term you won’t be able to do anything on your own outside of the template.
3. Everybody loves shiny things, right? Excel templates look so good and can have so many cool features. 3. Shiny things can be super distracting. If you don’t need everything that is in a template, it can be easy to get lost in the mix of everything in there, and end up not using most or all of the template.

If you are working in Excel but don’t want to use a generic Excel template, what else can you do? One option is to work with me! I love working with people to get them exactly what they need in Excel. Let me know what you need and we’ll work together to get you an Excel spreadsheet that is tailored to your needs.

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