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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

            Freelance Writer

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            Last Updated on May 24, 2019

            How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day

            How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day

            If you’ve ever wondered how to be productive at home or how you could possibly have a more productive day, look no further.

            Below you’ll find six easy tips that will help you make the most out of your time:

            1. Create a Good Morning Routine

            One of the best ways to start your day is to get up early and eat a healthy breakfast.

            CEOs and other successful people have similar morning routines, which include exercising and quickly scanning their inboxes to find the most urgent tasks.[1]

            You can also try writing first thing in the morning to warm up your brain[2] (750 words will help with that). But no matter what you choose to do, remember to create good morning habits so that you can have a more productive day.

            If you aren’t sure how to make morning routine work for you, this guide will help you:

            The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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            2. Prioritize

            Sometimes we can’t have a productive day because we just don’t know where to start. When that’s the case, the most simple solution is to list everything you need to get accomplished, then prioritize these tasks based on importance and urgency.

            Week Plan is a simple web app that will help you prioritize your week using the Covey time management grid. Here’s an example of it:[3]

              If you get the most pressing and important items done first, you will be able to be more productive while keeping stress levels down.

              Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, also has great advice on how to prioritize. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

              How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

              3. Focus on One Thing at a Time

              One of the biggest killers of productivity is distractions. Whether it be noise or thoughts or games, distractions are a barrier to any productive day. That’s why it’s important to know where and when you work best.

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              Need a little background noise to keep you on track? Try working in a coffee shop.

              Can’t stand to hear even the ticking of a clock while writing? Go to a library and put in your headphones.

              Don’t be afraid to utilize technology to make the best of your time. Sites like [email protected] and Simply Noise can help keep you focused and productive all day long.

              And here’s some great apps to help you focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

              4. Take Breaks

              Focusing, however, can drain a lot of energy and too much of it at once can quickly turn your productive day unproductive.

              To reduce mental fatigue while staying on task, try using the Pomodoro Technique. It requires working on a task for 25 minutes, then taking a short break before another 25 minute session.

              After four “pomodoro sessions,” be sure to take a longer break to rest and reflect.

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              I like to work in 25 and 5 minute increments, but you should find out what works best for you.

              5. Manage Your Time Effectively

              A learning strategies consultant once told me that there is no such thing as free time, only unstructured time.

              How do you know when exactly you have free time?

              By using the RescueTime app, you can see when you have free time, when you are productive, and when you actually waste time.

              With this data, you can better plan out your day and keep yourself on track.

              Moreover, you can increase the quality of low-intensity time. For example, reading the news while exercising or listening to meeting notes while cooking. Many of the mundane tasks we routinely accomplish can be paired with other tasks that lead to an overall more productive day.

              A bonus tip, even your real free time can be used productively, find out how:

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              20 Productive Ways to Use Your Free Time

              6. Celebrate and Reflect

              No matter how you execute a productive day, make sure to take time and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. It’s important to reward yourself so that you can continue doing great work. Plus, a reward system is an incredible motivator.

              Additionally, you should reflect on your day in order to find out what worked and what didn’t. Reflection not only increases future productivity, but also gives your brain time to decompress and de-stress.

              Try these 10 questions for daily self reflection.

              More Articles About Daily Productivity

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

              Reference

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