I love to spend time playing with my three-years old twins, and I wholeheartedly want to create for them the memories of a happy childhood. This is something that I can’t delegate, and if I don’t have the time, I’ll have to find it. They will not wait to grow up.

Stupid time wasting at work really bothers me. When you work for a company where a high percentage of people use Excel as their primary tool you inevitably find horror stories of people spending days with a task that should take minutes. Here are some examples:

  • Hundreds of sums, calculated one by one, when a pivot table could give the same result in seconds;
  • Two persons matching two lists, when they could use a lookup function;
  • Hundreds of copies of the exactly same chart, but with different markets, sales territories or measures (a single chart with some basic interactivity would do);

(This also leads to errors and to the spreadsheet hell, but that’s another story.) I really hate to see people wasting their time this way, when they could leave earlier and go play with their kids. And it is so simple! You just have to tell yourself: “this is stupid; there must be a better way“. And usually there is. You just have to find it. Keyword: curiosity.

If you are a manager, let me share with you a management secret: you can’t imagine how inefficient a beginner Excel user can be, and you are likely to have several eternal beginners in your team. It is not a matter of training. People forget theory and examples that don’t apply to their own problems. You better hire an Excel power user. Make him/her the go-to person for Excel things. Tell this person to meet users, find inefficiencies and solve them.

I am sure you have much better inefficiency-related Excel horror stories. Do you want to share them in the comments?