How to and why to learn to work smarter with EXCEL

How and why Excel

The other day I was asked about my EXCEL skills. I have been using this program since my time in college and I have come to appreciate the benefit of investing some more time in it.

I think that everybody should know a little more about its use and benefits and get some tips to start learning. However the best is to start with an example of its potential.

From 10 to 3 minutes

If you could reduce the time you spend doing a task from 10 minutes to 3, would you? I definitely would, and often have had to, to stay sane.

You probably may think that this is not much of a deal, to save 7 minutes. However what if you had to do this 100 times in a row? You would save 700 minutes, almost 12 hours.

To give you a better overview of this sample process these were the steps that I automated:

  1. Extract information from a database
  2. Make a backup copy
  3. Create a second one
  4. Create a report for internal use
  5. Create a report for external use
  6. Each reports needs to be saved
  7. Each report needs to be printed

Do you think it is worth learning a little bit more about it and save 70% of your time? I do. You will gain more speed, precision, and time to spend for example with your loved ones.

 Where to start learning smarter EXCEL


Working smarter, where to start

It is easy to get some quick improvements, my tip is to first focus on learning short-cut keys and then formulas.

Here is a link to a blog post at and another to a post, which I find good for you if you want to get a little more information and tips. The post was written recently by Rachel Sprung post in Hubspot: How to Use Excel: 14 Simple Excel Shortcuts, Tips & Tricks .

Free learning sources

This is a list of some excellent learning resources for all levels:

If you want to read up on some more sources for learning read this post by Brad Zomick: Learn Excel Without Spending a Penny: 40 Free Excel Tutorials & Reference Sites

Paid learning sources

You can both find useful books as well as online courses.

I recommend books from John W

alkenbach’s.  His writing is clear and well structured and he has books for every level. Another source of good books are the “For Dummies” series.

In terms of online courses I only recommend it is the only one that convinces me for its quality. I have been using the premium version for the last 3 years. They have top quality videos, an enormous database of courses for users of all levels. It is not cheap but definitely worth the money.

Another reason why you should learn more EXCEL

Many people associate spreadsheet programs just with accounting. In fact, I think that I have used it much more for other purposes. At work I have used it both for very simple tasks as well as for more complicated ones like for example:

  • Form templates for internal controls and check lists
  • Quick and dirty calculations
  • Import cost and tax calculations
  • Simple project management
  • Business modelling
  • Create customized reports extracting information from external databases for:
    • Supply and purchasing decision making
    • Customer profit and loss analysis
    • Sales control

Give it a shot!

Why not? It does not hurt to know how to save time using EXCEL. I am convinced others will come to appreciate. I rather spend more time with my loved ones than spend it doing extra hours at work.

What about you? Do you use EXCEL or any other spreadsheet program much? Why did you learn to use it? Do you use it just at work or also at home? What do you use it for?

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