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5 Powerful Excel Functions That Make Work Easier

5 Powerful Excel Functions That Make Work Easier

If you’ve just started learning how to use Microsoft Excel, you’ll probably have a lot of questions to ask about the functions of the program. Because let’s face it, despite being exceptionally useful, Excel can be a very complicated application. It’s like a hammer when your most frustrating reporting tasks at work resemble nails.

Aside from great Excel features such as flash fill, pivot tables, and conditional formatting, Excel also has a lot of powerful functions that will help save time when creating spreadsheets. Invest some time in learning to use Excel so you can prepare and manage complex reports, as well as perform what-if analysis on data like a pro!

To help you get started, here are 5 important Excel functions you should learn today.

1. The SUM Function

The sum function is the most used function when it comes to computing data on Excel. This function works to sum a group of numbers in a specific set of cells. This means you don’t need to type a long cumbrous formula just to calculate the sum of all the data you need. Because of its popularity, newer versions of Microsoft Excel have a button specifically for this function.

This function is performed by typing the formula on the function bar and highlighting the cells you want summed before clicking “Enter”. You also need to be careful in highlighting cells, as Excel will sum everything you include. If this happens, you can easily click the “Undo” button to reset the values back to its original state.

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SUM function

    The syntax formula for sum function is “=SUM” (number1, number2, etc.).

    In this image, the sum function for the cells C2 through C7 is obtained through the formula “=SUM(C2:C7)”, giving you the result of 33161.

    2. The TEXT Function

    Text function is a useful tool that helps convert a date (or number) into a text string in a particular format. It falls in the category of string formulas that converts numerical values to a string. It is handy when users need to view numeric data in a readable format. Take note that the “TEXT” formula only works to convert numeric values to text. Therefore, its results cannot be calculated.

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    TEXT FUNCTION

      The syntax formula for text function is “=TEXT” (value, format_text).

      • “Value” refers to the particular number you wish to convert to text.
      • “Format_text” defines the format of the conversion.

      In this example, the user uses a text formula to find the abbreviated day for the date “=TEXT (B2, “ddd”)”.

      3. The VLOOKUP Function

      VLookup is powerful Excel function that is often overlooked. Users will find it useful when they need to find specific data on a large table. You can also use VLookup to search for names, phone number, or specific data on your sheet. Instead of manually looking for the names and wasting time scrolling through hundreds of data, the VLookup function makes this process faster and more efficient.

      vlookup

        Image: spreadsheeto.com

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        The VLookup formula is “=VLOOKUP” (lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, *range_lookup*).

        • “lookup_value” is the data you want to find.
        • “table_array” is the data column where you want to limit your search.
        • “col_index_num” is the column number within the table that you want to return a value from.
        • “range_lookup” is an optional argument that allows you to search for the exact match of your lookup value without sorting the table.

        4. The AVERAGE Function

        The average function is an extremely useful tool for getting the average value in a range of cells. Like the sum function, it is frequently used in computing and analyzing data on spreadsheet. Basically, the average function works to find the “arithmetic mean” for a group of cells. Aside from the average function, Excel also has the median and mode function.

        Average Function

          The syntax formula for the average function is “AVERAGE” (number1, number2, etc.).

          • “Number 1” refers to the first number in the range where you want the average.
          • “Number 2” is the additional reference of the average range. You can get an average of up to a maximum of 255 cells.

          Additional ­­Examples:

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          “=AVERAGE (A2:A10)” – computes the average of numbers in cells A2 through A10.

          “=AVERAGE (B2: B10, 7)” – computes the average of the numbers in cells B2 through B10 and the number 7.

          5. The CONCATENATE Function

          This function is a good time saver when you need to combine data from 2 or more cells. Unlike the merge tool which physically merges two or more cells into a single cell, the concatenate function only combines the contents of the combined cells. In the latest version of Excel ( 2016), the concatenate function has been replaced with concat function and will be incorporated in more future versions of Excel.

          Average Function

            The syntax formula for the concatenate function is “CONCATENATE” (text1, [text2…text_n]),

            • “Text1, Text2…text_n” are the data you want to combine.

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            Armela Escalona

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            1 How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success? 2 11 Reasons Why We Fail to Achieve Our Goals 3 How to Set Goals Effectively And Grow Continuously 4 How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day 5 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

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            Last Updated on July 16, 2020

            How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

            How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

            As well as being the founder of Lifehack, I also help people on a one-to-one basis through life coaching.

            I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and have helped hundreds of clients reevaluate their lives and turn inertia into progress and failure into success.

            A common theme I’ve noticed with many of my clients is that they don’t have any definite goals to aim towards.

            This has always surprised me, as goal setting is frequently recommended by self-improvement gurus, performance coaches, and business leaders. It’s also something that I learned at university and have implemented successfully in my life ever since.

            If you’re similar to the majority of my life coaching clients and you don’t have any definite goals to aim for, then you’re missing out on what is probably the most powerful personal success technique on the planet.

            The good news is—you’ve come to the right place for help with this.

            In this article, I’ll explain exactly what goal-setting is and how you can put it into action in your life. As you’ll discover, it’s a key that can open many doors for you.

            An Introduction to Goal Setting

            Goals can be big, small, short-term, long-term, essential, or desirable. But they all share one thing: They will give you something to aim for.

            This is important. As just like a ship without a destination, if you have no goals, you’ll end drifting aimlessly.

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            Goals give you purpose. They also give you drive and enthusiasm. In other words—they make you feel alive!

            If you’ve never spent time setting goals before, then here’s what I recommend you to do:

            1. Take some time to evaluate all areas of your life (health, career, family, etc.).
            2. Determine which of these areas need a boost.
            3. Think of ways in which to achieve this (for example, if you want to boost your health, you could eat less and exercise more).
            4. Set some definite goals that you would like to achieve.
            5. Write down these goals, including the date you want to accomplish them by.

            Now, before you get started on the above, I want to make one thing clear: Goals are not wishful thinking!

            By this, I mean that while your goals should be ambitious, they shouldn’t be unrealistic or verging into fantasy land.

            For example, wanting to be promoted at work would be a realistic goal while wanting to be President of the United States might not be. (Of course, feel free to prove me wrong!)

            If you’re new to the world of goal setting, then I’d recommend you start with easy-to-achieve goals. These could be things such as eating a healthy breakfast, walking more, taking regular breaks from your screen, and sleeping early.

            These simple goals might take you a month or so to achieve, including making the daily practices a habit.

            Once you’ve successfully accomplished these goals, you’ll find your self-confidence grows, and you’ll be ready to set yourself some bigger goals.

            Here are a few examples that you might want to choose or adapt to your personal circumstances:

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            • Run a marathon
            • Buy a new car
            • Learn a new language
            • Travel around the world
            • Change career
            • Retire early
            • Write a book

            I’m sure you can think of many more things that you would like to achieve. As the famous Shakespeare line neatly states: “The world is your oyster!”

            Now, the trick with big goals (as I’ll show in an example shortly) is to break them down into small, bite-sized chunks. This means you’ll have a big end goal, with smaller goals (sometimes referred to as objectives) helping you to gradually achieve your main aim.

            When you do this, you’ll make big goals more achievable. Plus, you’ll have an easy way to track how far along the road to your goal you are at any given point in time.

            Let’s see this in action…

            Going from an Idea to a Global Success

            Everything starts with an idea.

            And there appears to be no shortage of good ideas in the world. But there is a shortage of people willing to put these ideas into action!

            This is the essential step that will move you from being a dreamer to an achiever.

            Back in 2005, when I first had the idea for Lifehack, I really only considered it to be a platform to record some of my productivity and self-improvement techniques. I’d developed these during my time at university and as a Software Engineer at Redhat.

            However, based on the number of views and positive feedback I received on the first few articles, I quickly realized that Lifehack had the potential to be a popular and successful website—a site that could help transform the lives of people from all across the world.

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            It was at that point that I decided to set some goals in place for Lifehack.

            The way I did this was to set specific targets for different areas of the business:

            1. Number of articles published
            2. Amount of time spent writing and promoting the articles
            3. Number of new readers
            4. Number of new email subscribers
            5. Revenue generated from ads

            For each of the above, I set weekly, monthly, and yearly targets. These targets were realistic but were also ambitious. In addition, I wrote down the necessary steps to take to achieve each target within the specified time frame.

            This goal setting had a powerful impact on my motivation and energy levels. Because I could clearly see what needed to be done to achieve each goal, I found a purpose to my tasks that made them exciting to complete. Each small target achieved took me closer to accomplishing the bigger goals.

            For example, my initial goals for writing articles were for just five a week, which equated to 20 per month and just over 100 per year. However, as I dedicated more and more time to Lifehack, I found I was able to exceed my initial goals.

            This led me to increase the numbers. Of course, there’s a limit to how many articles one person can write. So when the readership began to exponentially increase, I started to hire other writers to help me out with the site’s content.

            From my initial goal of just over 100 articles per year, I’ve used goal setting to help Lifehack publish more than 35,000 articles to date. This is now the largest collection of original self-development articles in the world.

            And in terms of readership—this has skyrocketed from a few dozen in 2005 to several million in 2020.

            And of course, I have many new goals for Lifehack, including expanding our range of online courses.

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            My original goal has always remained the same though: To change people’s lives for the better.

            Goal Setting Can Transform Your Life

            If you haven’t yet experienced the incredible power of goal setting, then now’s the time to get started.

            Build a definite picture of what you want to accomplish, break it down into small, achievable steps, and then start taking action!

            You’ll be able to change all areas of your life using this method, including boosting your health, improving your relationships, and transforming your career. You may also want to use goal setting to start a new hobby or plot a path to a prosperous and peaceful retirement.

            So please don’t wait for success to drop in your lap (which it is highly unlikely to do). Instead, decide on exactly what you want, then make a plan to get it. This is the secret to lifelong success.

            Legendary motivational speaker and author Paul J. Meyer said it well:

            “Goal setting is the most important aspect of all improvement and personal development plans. It is the key to all fulfillment and achievement.”

            Final Thoughts

            Now, let me leave you with five questions that will help you think about your future:

            1. What would you like to be doing in 3, 5, and 7 years?
            2. What things make you happiest?
            3. How can you share your knowledge and experience?
            4. Who can help you achieve your goals?
            5. What would you like to be your legacy?

            Take plenty of time to think about these questions. When the answers come, you’ll be able to start building a picture of how you’d like your life to be—and what goals you need to set to make this picture a reality.

            More Tips on Setting Goals

            Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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