I see many time-saving tips for Excel users that speed up the time it takes to prepare a spreadsheet, such as keyboard shortcuts, text-to-columns, etc.
Where these are all very useful, I sometimes feel that an important truth is often overlooked.
A spreadsheet gets built once, but is used hundreds of times!
It is always worth having this at the back of your mind (or stuck on the wall above your desk!) when you are building a spreadsheet.
Anything that can be done when setting up the spreadsheet to speed up the experiencefor the user (even if that's you) will pay for itself many times over.
This understanding can often be the difference between an amateur spreadsheet and a professionally produced one. They both do the job, but the good spreadsheet will let you do it in half the time, saving far more than the cost of doing it properly in the first place.
There are many ways in which a good spreadsheet does save the user time, such as drop-down lists, logical data layout and conditional formatting, but the key is to know it's important. If the user is having to copy and paste, change formatting or type something more than once, these are good indicators that the spreadsheet could have been better designed.
If this is the case, it is costing you every month, week or day (depending how often the spreadsheet is used) and it needn't be the case. Take another look at it and see where it can be improved - or get it rewritten by a professional. Either way, you will be amazed at the time savings that are possible.
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