I took an Excel class my first semester in college. I enjoyed almost all of it. Creating formulas, designing conditional formatting, filtering data, all of it was just good, clean, nerdy accountant fun. There were two chapters in that class that I did NOT like, and those were the chapters about pivot tables and macros.
Here’s what I’ve learned working in an Excel-dominated workplace:
1) Pivot tables are easy, but you can only learn to use them on the job. Example scenarios in a textbook do nothing to explain how they work. Until you’ve got 30 fields in a data string straight out of an accounting report and you need to sort by 8 of those fields to figure out if there are any duplicate rates, you don’t understand pivot tables.
2) Macros are easy, but don’t tell anyone because my coworkers don’t know and I’d like to keep it that way 😉 I am now an intern who actually knows how to do something to contribute to my team. I’m adding value! I mean, the projects I work on help my team; there is no doubt about that. They save a lot of time by having me do a lot of the tedious and time consuming stuff. But the day I figured out how to make a coworker’s life easier through a macro was the day I realized I actually knew something.
You know what’s fun? Recording macros. I like it so much, I could even include a tutorial below (but I won’t do that because I know y’all don’t care). What I like is that I can press “record macro,” do everything I want the macro to do, press “stop recording,” and have all this fancy code written for me. Then, if little changes need to be made, I can go in and logic my way through editing the code. I also love how I can create this secret shortcut to run the macro and only tell people I really like. So if I want to hide certain sheets and lock the workbook for editing, I can create my macro, press ctrl+g, and all of that stuff just occurs! It’s so fancy! I feel so smart! If anyone needs a macro created, I’m your girl.
Here’s the key: we all like to know things that other people don’t. Especially when it’s helpful or brings something new to light. We want to be the experts at something. Or we want to try something that nobody’s ever done before. The following two thoughts may be a bit disconnected and off-topic, but this is what occured to me as I thought about my experience with the macro.
1) Wanting to bring something new and unique to the table is a driving factor in the music industry. A lot of people want to be the next big thing. And I don’t mean like the next copycat boy band. Artists want to create something unique and new. That’s how genres are created. Rock and roll stemmed out of a desire to tweak American jazz. Techno came from kids playing around on new technologies. Some of the coolest music is something you’ve never heard before. Creating something that contributes something new.
2) To me, macros are all about efficiency. One macro can execute hundreds of commands in seconds that would take my clicking and typing an hour or more. Practically speaking, that’s what business is: creating increasing efficiency in order to improve processes and, as a result, make more money. On a more personal level, I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that increasing efficiency is one of my highest priorities. It’s something I obsess over without realizing it. It’s nice to know that, in some capacity, my compulsion to be ever-increasingly lazy..*cough*..I mean…efficient is actually useful.
Be back soon,