I am pretty darn good at Excel! I can solve any problem I need to, but one thing I am not good at is using Excel shortcuts. I know Ctrl + C (Copy), Ctrl + V (Paste) and the most important one on account of being a human being is Ctrl + Z (Undo!). Some methods of Excel training will teach you these shortcuts, but not mine.
Not only do I not know any other shortcuts, I made it my business to NOT learn them. Now, why would I do such a thing?
Well, grab some popcorn for a quick story that teaches a key lesson about what people get wrong when using Excel at work.
A few years ago, I worked closely with a management accountant named Sanjay, who would frequently extract data from a SAP finance database, clean it up and do some analysis on it. He was a master of keyboard shortcuts and was lightning fast.
One day Sanjay got stuck during his usual daily extraction, clean up and analysis. He turned to me and asked, “How quickly can you do this?” with a certain male competitive arrogance; of course, in a humorous way like when two friends are playing Battlefield on the PS4 and teasing each other.
“Send it to me and I can have a try?”
He emails me his Excel workbook, shows me what he’s trying to do then says “Just do 20 rows and see how long it takes.” Now, he began to time me and I got stuck. 2 minutes later I was still working on it…. 5 minutes later, still had not finished….and at 10 minutes he got fed up and stopped timing!
“Dude, supposedly you are an Excel expert, but you are slow!”
“It takes me less than 2 minutes to do those 20 rows,” he bragged.
Now, after about 12 minutes I eventually finished and challenged him. “Let me try one more time, but give me a new extract with 100 rows”.
“100 rows?! That will take you all day!” He laughed and sent me another extract with 100 rows.
“Ready…go!” He started his timer.
3 seconds later I said “Done!”
“What?!” he said, “Stop joking! How can that be?”
He came over to my desk and saw that all 100 rows had been done in 3 seconds; it takes him about 1 minute to cleanse 10 rows and he is super-fast. How could I possibly do 100 in 3 seconds?! Easy.
Or more accurately, VBA.
VBA stands for Visual Basic for Applications and it is all about ‘programming’ Excel to control it and automate a lot of your work. This includes Analysis, Report Building and making Excel integrate with other applications.
Instead of doing the work the first time when Sanjay sent me the file, I knew my strategy was to write some VBA code and create a macro that was going to automatically do the work. This would be a valuable way to prove a point to a friend that he should be investing his time in learning VBA/Macros.
It is all about controlling Excel automatically. That’s what ALL programming does, it controls things automatically. When you do things automatically, Excel doesn’t operate at the speed a human does; it operates like a machine and does the job in seconds! These are the kinds of skills that you will learn as a part of my Excel training.
The reason I don’t use keyboard shortcuts is because instead of learning keyboard shortcuts and speeding up the time it takes to do repetitive tasks, I decided long ago to invest that time into learning how to automate by using Excel VBA (or Macros). If this sounds good to you, then you are an excellent candidate for my beginner and advanced online Excel courses.
That investment in my time paid off dramatically. If you do use a lot of keyboard shortcuts it means you are doing repetitive tasks, as you will learn over the course of my online Excel classes. If you are doing repetitive tasks, the best thing you can do is invest in yourself and learn how to automate with VBA and Macros. Excellent Excel training will teach you how to utilize VBA and Macros to your benefit.
Learning keyboard shortcuts is a very tactical approach. Improving your knowledge in that area won’t pay off for you that much in the future; you will reach a ceiling usefulness pretty soon. On the other hand, learning to automate is like compound interest. It’s a skill which will pay off for years to come, and one that you can learn with Excel training classes.
As I said to Sanjay, “Do you want to spend 30-60 minutes a day just doing this repetitive nonsense? As a qualified accountant, wouldn’t your time be better used to add value by analysing the numbers, then presenting useful findings to senior people?”. He got my point and I began to spend some time with him a few times a week, for a few weeks, to teach him VBA/Macros. He’s now a master.
If you keep using Excel Shortcuts and get quicker and quicker, you are going to be a better soldier and that’s fine, but ask yourself this:
“Do I want to be better soldier, or do I want to be a General?”
For me, it’s not even a question. And I hope you are ambitious enough to aim to be a General too. Beginner and advanced Excel courses will train you to reach the pinnacle of productivity!
The industrial revolution was arguably the biggest leap humans made in terms of the economic impact of technology, because productivity increased through automation. Similarly, you need to spark your own little ‘industrial revolution’ in your career.
I began to advance in my career when my Excel skills got so good, I was automating my work. This freed up time, time that I could have used that time to surf the interwebs or post hilarious Facebook status updates. Instead, I spread my wings a bit more in the companies I worked in and looked for opportunities to provide value to the right people until eventually, the Generals in my companies saw me as one of them. I won them over and they promoted me, opened doors for me and groomed me to be amongst them. Hopefully I have convinced you to look beyond Excel shortcuts and toward the power of VBA. If this piques your interest, then we offer Excel courses including one for VBA and Macros that will have you up and running with these skills in minutes!
How Excel Training Will Save You A Ton of Time
When you learn how to use Macros and Excel VBA, you will most effectively learn how to manage your time. And time management is an essential component of any quality Excel training that you could enter into. Don’t settle for repetitive tasks being done via shortcuts when you can actually utilize the functions of the program itself to speed up the process-thus reducing your workload!