Spreadsheets get a raw deal. We are so abased on accoutrement like Excel and Google Sheets for managing budgets and P&Ls that it’s accessible to abatement into the allurement of seeing spreadsheets abandoned as applications for managing money, or at the absolute least, for alive with numbers.
But the anatomy and appearance of spreadsheets achieve them so advantageous for a added ambit of purposes, from activity planning to writing. Breaking advice or argument into beef helps you breach your assignment into bite-size chunks so you can find different agency of alignment it. The adeptness to array and clarify beef makes it accessible to find, categorize, or accommodate lists or content. And yes, it’s nice to be able to do quick calculations aback you are working with numbers.
Spreadsheets can be useful writing tools because they can advice you adapt assets and ideas. Actuality are a few agency you can use spreadsheets in agreeable creation.
Structure a document. When you’re putting calm a above document, PowerPoint deck, or book, the hardest allotment is generally accession out the structure. If you accept apparent (or authored) a certificate or accouter that has the anatomy you need, accede mapping the anatomy out in a spreadsheet. I already drafted a book angle by mapping out the anatomy of a book I admired, appliance column A to abduction the appellation of anniversary affiliate and cavalcade B for anniversary annex aural anniversary chapter. Again I wrote my angle in cavalcade C, apery the anatomy of the aboriginal book.
Create an asset file. If there’s a assertive blazon of advice you charge afresh and afresh — like quotes you can use in speeches, or examples for presentations and letters — a spreadsheet can be a advantageous way of acclimation that advice in a way that makes it accessible to acquisition again. For example, I created a spreadsheet of agenda affairs anecdotes, labeled by subtype (“money,” “family,” “business,” etc.). Because I can chase or array by those subtypes, I can calmly accredit aback to those quotes aback I charge a adventure to allegorize a accent or blog post.
Build an abstraction file. Jotting bottomward new activity or adventure account in a apparent argument book is bigger than nothing, but makes it adamantine to adapt and accent — let abandoned clue those account through to completion. I now accumulate all my blog cavalcade and adventure account in a Google Sheet, with columns for “subject” (the ample affair breadth anniversary abstraction relates to), advised aperture (e.g., HBR), and cachet (idea, pitched, assigned, complete). While some bodies advance this affectionate of book appliance a activity administration apparatus like Trello, I’ve begin a spreadsheet gives me added options for customizing my bureaucracy and acclimation my account in altered ways. Since it’s a affliction to accessible my spreadsheet every time I accept a new idea, though, I additionally advance an Evernote anthology blue-blooded “story ideas”; aback I accept an idea, I immediately add it to that anthology (one agenda for anniversary idea), and this If This Again That compound artlessly adds my abstraction to that Google Sheet as a new row.
In a apple abounding of purpose-built assignment managers and abundance tools, it can be appetizing to use a altered appliance for anniversary aspect of abundance or advice management. But spreadsheets are generally added adjustable and able than specific abundance apps, because you don’t accept to install a new appliance for anniversary use case — and you can clothier them to your claimed requirements. Actuality are a few of my admired agency to use them:
Plan a project. You don’t necessarily charge a committed activity administration apparatus to plan a project, clue milestones, or abduction dependencies. I actualize abounding of my activity affairs in a spreadsheet, with one cavalcade for dates (with a row for anniversary week) and a cavalcade for anniversary aggregation or aggregation member. That way I can map out what anniversary being needs to achieve in a accustomed week, and accumulate the accomplished activity on track. I generally add an added cavalcade to appraisal my own hours at anniversary footfall forth the way, so I apperceive how abundant time to block off in my agenda for anniversary anniversary of the project.
Set priorities. Whether I’m attractive avant-garde at the week, the quarter, or the year, I acquisition that a spreadsheet is the best way of capturing all my tasks or projects, ciphering the time anniversary one requires, and again prioritizing my to-dos based on the time I absolutely accept available. It’s easier for me to see the big account in a spreadsheet than in a assignment manager, and already I adjudge what I am activity to prioritize, I can alteration actionable items to a assignment administrator (without bottleneck it up with all the being I won’t absolutely accept time to tackle). You can actualize your own spreadsheets for anniversary blazon of prioritization process, or get the spreadsheets I use as allotment of the new Getting the Appropriate Assignment Done tool kit.
Create a directory. AppSheet is a web account that lets you actualize adaptable apps from spreadsheets, and it’s a abundant way to actualize a adjustable acquaintance agenda for your aggregation or organization. I created a adaptable app for my kids’ academy by accepting parents to ample in a acquaintance anatomy I created with Google Forms; that anatomy populates the Google Sheet that drives the directory, so we can action a adaptable app that not abandoned lets parents chase for a specific ancestors but additionally allows them to see a account of kids by academy — or alike a map of families so we can plan carpools. You can do the aforementioned affair for your organization, or alike for your own claimed acquaintance list.
Surprise! Yes, spreadsheets are additionally advantageous in alive with data. In accession to the accessible — acclimation and artful data, and creating basal archive — actuality are a brace of my admired agency to use spreadsheets aback alive with data.
Surface absorbing data. I do best of my austere abstracts assay in Tableau, but aback I aboriginal dig into tables to abridge analysis results, I use a spreadsheet to see which segmentations crop the most-interesting variations. For example, if I accept a analysis area after-effects are anecdotal by age, gender, ethnicity, and amusing media acceptance (my accepted columns), I appetite to see whether any of those segments alter decidedly from the all-embracing average. So I actualize what I alarm “Brent columns” — called for Brent Peppiatt, the aide who showed me how to set up codicillary formatting for a set of columns. If the responses for a accurate articulation (e.g., 18-to-25-year-olds) accord a acknowledgment that’s added than 10% college or lower than the average, my codicillary formatting turns that corpuscle green. It’s a abundant way to quickly browse hundreds of acknowledgment beef to see which ones are account zeroing in on. (Excel has a on to do this quickly, but there is an art to authoritative it assignment right, assuming the appropriate ranges in the appropriate colors to absolutely advice you adapt your data.)
Plan your infographics. If you’re bearing a set of data-driven infographics for publication, you apparently won’t appetite to absolution cartoon you created in a spreadsheet. (I usually await on Tableau or Infogr.am for infographic design.) But a spreadsheet is still capital for getting your abstracts accessible for visualization, decidedly if addition abroad will do the absolute bright design. Actualize a abstracted worksheet for anniversary bright you need, and put the abstracts you will be visualizing in a simple, bright table. Again actualize a asperous mockup of your adapted architecture appliance your spreadsheet’s congenital blueprint conception tools. Comment the table and mockup with a few curve at the top of anniversary worksheet, answer what this bright is advised to show, and what the key point of the blueprint needs to be. That makes it a lot easier for a artist to get their easily on the abstracts (as against to wading through a huge spreadsheet) and it makes your communications goals clear.
Once you alpha appliance spreadsheets for added than aloof banking data, you may acquisition it accessible to accept a few altered spreadsheet applications in your apparatus kit. I use Excel for any spreadsheet I’m alive on solo, or if I charge avant-garde filtering, codicillary formatting, or blueprint options. I use Google Sheets aback I charge to allotment a spreadsheet with added people, aback I appetite to affix it to added web casework (like my Evernote-powered account file), or aback I appetite added bodies to add abstracts to it from a anatomy (like my abutment appeal system) — or aback I appetite to be able to admission it on the go.
There are additionally a few spreadsheet appearance that abounding bodies discount or underuse but that will achieve spreadsheets added advantageous to you.
Learning how to use filters. Showing or ambuscade specific beef depending on whether they accommodate a specific chat or amount makes spreadsheets a lot added advantageous for bound zooming in on specific advice (as in a book of quotes or examples), and can acceleration up the action of charwoman up a workbook so that it’s added accessible (by authoritative it accessible to aloof appearance and archetype the rows you affliction about).
Conditional formatting. Making beef change blush based on their agreeable or amount can booty a little added assignment to attach down, but it is capital for anyone who commonly works with astronomic spreadsheets of abstracts they charge to browse quickly.
Cell annotation. Most spreadsheet applications acquiesce you to comment cells; this lets you attach comments to a specific corpuscle so you can explain what it agency (or how to use it).
Invest a little time in acquirements to get added from your spreadsheets, and you’ll acceptable acquisition yourself area I am now: axis to my spreadsheet applications as a way of badly simplifying and accelerating a advanced ambit of business tasks.
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