How can using Excel boost productivity?

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I’m sure you’ve heard it said that Excel is one of the most invaluable computer programmes used in the modern workplace.  Personally, I’ve always struggled to use Excel to its full and surprising potential. Recently though, I decided it was time to discover the wonders of Excel for myself. Accordingly, I found some excellent online training and thought I’d share what I’ve learnt so far in this post.

Later, we’ll look at how using formulas in Excel can help you make your work easier and more enjoyable.

First, let’s answer the question.

Using Excel will help you become more productive in three main ways. First, smart use of the multiple formatting options available allows you to influence user focus and direct their attention to key information. Secondly, mastering formulas and functions make problem solving a synch and means you can automate a lot of your work. And thirdly, there are plenty of useful shortcuts that are almost guaranteed to speed up your work.

Let’s investigate further, starting with some of the fabulous shortcuts you can use.

What shortcuts can I use?

If you’re a beginner like me, it’s a good idea to learn some keyboard shortcuts so that you can get stuff done a lot faster in Excel.  Here are a few of them for you.

  • Ctrl + C and Ctrl +V to copy and paste.
  • Ctrl + P to access the print preview screen.
  • Ctrl + Z to undo an action.
  • Ctrl + H to edit information within a cell or range and replace it.
  • Ctrl + N to open a new workbook.

As well as these ones, you can use the F4 key to quickly lock references in a cell and make formulas absolute. We’ll discuss working with functions in more detail later.

For now, let’s find out how creating and using formulas can improve efficiency. 

Why are formulas great for productivity?

To begin to see how great formulas are, you first need to know what a formula is.  A formula is an equals sign followed by a mathematical calculation. That calculation can include values, references to cells and functions.

So why are they essential? I’ll give you some of the reasons.

  • They help you to visualise data quickly.
  • Being good with formulas makes it easier for you to solve problems fast and therefore make your work more enjoyable.
  • You can build simple but elegant solutions. If you understand how your spreadsheet works, your productivity will increase. 
  • Understanding formulas allows you to design better spreadsheets.
  • You can provide value to any business, because all businesses cherish productivity.

What better reason is there to master formulas than to get all your work done and get home on time?

We’ll dig deeper into how formatting can speed up your work in a little while.

Now let’s move on to fabulous functions. 

How can functions make work easier and boost productivity? 

Functions are where the true power of Excel resides. They are essentially a pre-built formula. Their primary purpose is to perform actions that would otherwise be highly impractical or even impossible. Perhaps most usefully though, they automate large portions of your work, which makes you more productive.

There are three main types of function in Excel.

  • Conditional functions.
  • Text functions.
  • Date functions.

Why are functions valuable in Excel? 

If you only learn to master some of the functions you will develop your ability to devise high-impact solutions.  The best thing about functions in Excel is that most are very similar to one another. This means that you can use all the functions in Excel even if you only really learn about a few. Here’s why.

  • The syntax of a function refers to the order in which components are built into a function.  In other words, the syntax is what you need to make any given function work.
  • The syntaxes of most functions are similar and this is what allows you to use many different functions in the same way.

Good, right?  This will speed up your work for sure and – as has been said before — all businesses value productivity highly. In a little while, I’ll give you some tips on different ways to teach yourself Excel. Next, I’ll highlight some specific functions that are sure to work wonders for your productivity.  

Which functions will best increase productivity?

Here are some fantastic functions you can integrate into your spreadsheets to help you really power through your work.

  • FORMULATEXT: This lets you document your worksheet so that people working on that same sheet after you will be more productive, because they will be able to see at a glance how a value was worked out. Adding the FORMULATEXT function into a given cell containing a formula will show the text of that formula.
  • The N function: To describe a formula rather than see the text within the cell, you can put this function at the end of said formula.
  • CONCENTRATE: Using this function makes it possible for you to incorporate text from different cells into one cell.
  • VLOOKUP: This allows you to quickly look up specific information in a large data set. That is, finding a name, phone number or a value. The V in the function name means excel will look for information in vertical columns. If you want Excel to find info in formation in horizontal rows simply change the V in the function name to an H.
  • IFERROR: This makes it possible for you to change erroneous text into anything you like. You can place an ugly error inside an IFERROR function to show the value you wish to display if the formula returns an error.

How can Excel formatting make you more productive?

Here are some simple answers I’ve come up with for you.

  • Correct formatting of information gives data more value and makes it easier to take in quickly.
  • Judicious use of formatting can help direct the focus of users on to what’s crucial.
  • Formatting, merging and aligning cells makes data easier to read.
  • Conditional Formatting can be used to highlight the most vital sections of your worksheet. This allows you to identify what you need to concentrate on in an instant.

We can see that formatting makes you more productive as it helps reduce confusion in the workplace by directing the attention and eye of the user. Not only does it make you work faster, it allows for more effective collaboration — both amongst and across teams. 

Now to investigate ways you can learn Excel.

How can I learn Excel for myself?

It is of course possible to learn Excel for yourself for free by reading online articles and watching videos on YouTube or other such sites. But this can be very time-consuming and effortful. Here are some fast-track ways to master Excel and start getting your work done faster today.

  • For best on-a-budget training, check out edX. This is Microsoft’s course for analysing and visualising data using Excel.
  • If you like to learn on the hoof, go skills is probably the one for you. This training is available on Android and IOS devices, so you can become ofay with all the basics on your phone. And you still get certification.
  • If you’re primarily a visual learner, have a look at Excel Exposure. The great advantage of this course is that new lessons are still being added.

My personal recommendation is to type Spreadsheeto into your search engine. They offer stellar online excel training for people of all skill levels. You don’t need any prior experience using Excel. Their first-class Zero-to-Hero course is very easy to follow, offers video-based learning and the course instructor is engaging. Moreover, lots of resources are provided to help you practice your new skills as you acquire them, including project files and cheat sheets.

Summary 

I hope I have given you the confidence you need to go and conquer Excel yourself. Remember:

  • Great formatting will help minimise confusion and encourage excellent, efficient collaboration.
  • Developing expertise with formulas and functions will allow you to automate lots of your work and problem solve like a boss.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are always your friend in Excel and will help you work at turbo-speed.

With Excel on your side, you’re sure to be the most productive person in the office and will keep people wondering exactly how you get so much done, so fast!

Published by Lizzie

Lizzie here. I'm a freelance copywriter and editor based in the UK. I'm also passionate about volunteering and hold a MA in History from the University of Warwick. I've written for a multitude of fantastic websites and companies, including a legal automation software company, a dog training site and more. Check out my reviews on Fiverr and Upwork for more info!

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