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How Logging Your Day Can Lead To Higher Effectiveness

How Logging Your Day Can Lead To Higher Effectiveness
    From http://www.flickr.com/photos/zak/

    I recently started a job as a Programmer Analyst for a large insurance company and spend most of my days fixing technical issues, programming, and creating solutions with other engineers. It’s an awesome job, yet at the same time can become extremely technical and complicated in nature. Not just because of the technical stuff that I need to remember how to do but because of the inherent business processes that I have to take in and learn on a daily basis.

    After doing a little research online I found that there is the idea of the “Programmer Log”, which is simply a time and dated log of things that you have done in the day, things that you have learned that are related to your job, and even problems to watch out for as you go through your work day. Also

    I started to log my days everyday at work and at home for the past month to see what this logging idea was all about. In this short period of time I have found just how much more effective you can become in work and life if you keep track of the things that you have done and encountered throughout your day.

    The Premise

    Starting to log your day is pretty simple stuff. You just write (or type) the date and time and explain what you have done or even something that you have learned.

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    For instance, I noticed that there was some small differences between a production server that I was working with compared to other development servers at work. I wrote down these differences in my log in detail and then got back to work. Doing this took a whole 20 seconds but what I gained in the long run was input to a document that I created for my entire team on subtleties between environments.

      Another example is logging when you start to work on a task or project and then logging when you stop work on those things. This builds a realistic view of how long something takes to accomplish that you can use to make adjustments as well as estimates on future tasks or projects.

      So, the act of logging is simple; pretty much everything you do write it down with the date and time. Of course, that in itself is the end. You have to use your logs to become more effective.

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      Using and reviewing your logs

      Having a log isn’t enough. You have to go through and review the stuff that you have written down to see if anything needs brought up at a meeting or with other people, a project needs created, another task needs done, or you just want to see how much time it takes to do something.

      In other words, if you are a GTDer, you are looking for potential “inbox items” that are hiding in your logs. Finding these can be a little difficult at first, but after a few days of reviewing your logs you can pull out meaningful content.

      Let’s take my above example about the differences between two servers. At the end of the workday I noticed those differences I pulled them out of my logs and added a project to my project list:

      “Create small document on differences between production and testing environments”

      I then identified some next actions and proceeded to add these actions to my context lists. Pretty standard GTD stuff here. But in reality, this process isn’t “standard” for most people, and because of that potentially meaningful and needed work is missed.

      Something else nice about logs is that if you are speaking to someone about a certain topic that you have been working with you can always go back and review what you have done (or even what you haven’t done) with this topic. Being able to present the things that you have done in a current team project or personal project, you can then see where to go next.

      Becoming more effective

      The definition of effective is:

      “Successful in producing a desired or intended result.”

      Keeping a detailed log helps you produce intended results in projects by tracking what you have done, the time that it took to do it, and anything that came up in the process. Being able to look at these logs when you approach a project gives you the data you need to make decisions on next actions as well as how long something will take.

      In personal projects it may not be as important to decide how long something will take to complete, but if you work for “the man” or even your own business, having realistic outlooks on the time a project will take to complete is invaluable and one of the only ways to produce the intended result.

      So, readers, I challenge you take a log of you day for an entire week to see the things that you may miss that are project or action related that you wouldn’t have tracked otherwise. For me, it was an eye-opening experience to track my work for the last month; something that I will continue to do because of the boost in my effectiveness. Give it a try and see how it fits.

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      Last Updated on August 15, 2018

      25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

      25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

      Imagine if you could use 5 simple shortcuts while working in Excel, and increase your productivity without wasting time for searching information in huge tables, writing long formulas, and sorting the data.

      Or even better:

      What if you would get 25 useful shortcuts… and each of them could simplify your work, so you could do much more every day?

      You’d definitely feel excited to read about them.

      Today is your lucky day because we are going to share with you in this article 25 great Excel shortcuts you can use in your work every day! This is your lucky chance, so go ahead and become a real professional in Excel without wasting your time.

      How important are Excel shortcuts for you?

      The most effective thing to check out if people really need something is to release a survey and look at the results. So, according to the anonymous survey, 99% of people said Excel shortcuts are critical or important for them.

      In general, there are more than 200 shortcuts in Excel. But when we have analyzed the data about how many shortcuts people know, we got the next results:

      • 26% of people know 10 or fewer shortcuts;
      • 61% of people know 10-50 shortcuts;
      • 10% of people know 50-100 shortcuts.

      As you can see, not so many people know a lot of shortcuts. Probably, some of them never think about increasing their productivity in such a simple way.

      Of course, it depends on how deep you use Excel. Some people use this powerful application just for making simple tables or graphs, others use it for everyday work to count something.

      Most of the accountants and businessmen use much more Excel functions for more complex tasks such as creating VBA macros, managing PivotTables, recalculating huge workbooks, outlining data, etc.

      But even those people who work with Excel every day very close may know a few shortcuts. Needless to say, they can do their job without shortcuts, but it usually takes for them much more time. T

      his sounds not funny, especially if you must finish a huge amount of work urgently. There is a great opportunity for you to increase your productivity in Excel and do your job faster with our useful shortcuts.

      5 Main reasons to learn excel shortcuts

      Many people don’t understand why they should use shortcuts if they can work without them. Of course, if you use Excel twice per year to make a simple table or a graph, it is probably not so important for you to know many shortcuts.

      But if you work in Excel every day, sorting huge tables and managing with tons of data, then shortcuts will help you to reach the next five goals:

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      1. Work efficiently and faster in Excel
      2. Manage big amounts of data easily and fast
      3. Stay calm and concentrated even while doing a tedious job
      4. Make your work accurately and properly without errors
      5. Get a better understanding of Microsoft Excel

      Who can use Excel shortcuts?

      There are a lot of people who can simplify their life with Excel shortcuts, and here are the groups that will definitely love using them:

      • People who work in banks, finance organizations, etc.
      • Businessmen who make tons of various reports and presentations in Excel for meetings and briefings.
      • Students who usually are lazy and impatient to make their homework because they don’t want to waste a lot of time working in Excel.
      • Private entrepreneurs who keep various data in Excel tables.

      Whether you are a student who hates Excel because it seems a time-wasting and boring application, or you are an accountant who must recalculate huge worksheets every day without making errors, we recommend reading and learning these Excel shortcuts to make your work simpler and save some time.

      With these simple but useful tricks, it is so easy to finish your job and get more time for yourself.

      25 Excel shortcuts to increase your productivity

      Here are 25 great Excel shortcuts you should learn and use for work or studying to make your job faster and simpler. Try to use them all and you will realize you were totally blind before while working in Excel:

      1. Format whatever object fast with Ctrl+1

      If you select any object in Excel – a cell, a chart, a chart axis, a drawing object – then press Ctrl+1, and you will get the Properties dialog for the certain object. This shortcut offers a very quick and easy way to format whatever object you’re working with.

      2. Use range names with Ctrol+G or F5 key

      If you use range names (which we strongly recommend to do) and you want to choose the range with a specific name references, press either Ctrl+G or the F5 key, which launches the GoTo dialog.

      If the name is simple, you can click on it in a list in that dialog. But if it’s at all unusual, Excel won’t list it; so you will need to type in the name. Then press OK.

      3. Use a range name in a formula with =sum( and F3

      Suppose you want to use a range name in a formula. For example, you want to sum the Sales range. Enter…

      =sum(

      …and then press F3.

      When you do so, Excel launches the Paste Name dialog. Just choose “Sales” from the list, press the OK button in the dialog, then enter the SUM function’s closing “)” to complete the formula.

      4. Launch Function Arguments dialog easily with Ctrl+A

      Suppose you want to check the help topic for a worksheet function. For example, you want to read about the MATCH function. In a cell, type…

      =match(

      …and then press Ctrl+A, or click the Insert Function (“fx“) button to the left of the formula bar.

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      When you do so, Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog, which might offer all the help you need.

      But if you still want to see the complete help topic, click the blue “Help on this function” hyperlink in the lower-left corner of the dialog. This technique works with all documented Excel functions.

      5. Copy stuff down the column without scrolling with Ctrl+D

      If you added a formula in a new column on the right of a huge dataset, and you want to copy that formula down without scrolling, do these steps:

      • go to the right to the column that has data (the column to the left of the new column with the formula);
      • press Ctrl+Down – to get to bottom;
      • move one cell to the right (with arrow key naturally);
      • press Ctrl+Shift+Up to select the new column, at the top of which is the formula you just created;
      • press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.

      6. Quick access to any function with Alt+

      By customizing the quick access toolbar, you can create simple shortcuts to commands that you would otherwise have to find in the Ribbon tabs, or macros you have created yourself.

      The keyboard shortcut is simply selecting Alt+ (the number of the command you wish to select).

      For example, if you have customized your quick access toolbar to have Calc Sheet, Save, Open. To calculate sheet you would hit Alt+1, for save Alt+2, and for open Alt+3.

      A lot of people are unaware of this useful function, and it’s a great time saver.

      7. Format cells with Ctrl+1

      When you need to format cells, use Ctrl+1. Most people know this as the shortcut for the Format Cells dialog, but you can also use it to format almost anything in Excel, without a care about the state of the ribbon. Try this amazing and simple shortcut!

      8. Choose visible cells with Alt+

      When you need to choose visible cells only – use Alt+. This is the trick to copy only what you see. It is a priceless shortcut when you’re manually hiding rows and columns in the table.

      9. Use filtering

      Filtering – it is a powerful way to slice, dice, and sort through a huge table of information.

      It’s amazingly effective when you’re participating in a meeting to discuss something like a sales forecast, and everyone is looking in real-time at your spreadsheet projected on a screen (or on their monitors).

      To some people, you will be seen as the God of Spreadsheets, and this is not a joke!

      10. Insert or delete column/row easily with the Ctrl key

      Some people waste a lot of time even for simple operations, for example, when they need to insert/delete columns and rows in Excel.

      Use this shortcut to insert: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl+Shift ++.

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      To delete: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl + –.

      11. See formula results with F9

      If you want to check formula results within multiple formulas, highlight the formula and select F9 to see formula result.

      Don’t forget to undo before exiting the formula.

      12. Use ALT+Enter for more text within a cell

      If you want to add a second line of text within a cell, use ALT+Enter.

      13. Use EDATE to move a date on by a full calendar month:

      Here’s how to use EDATE:

      =EDATE(15/01/16,+1) = 15/02/2016 (15th Feb 2016)

      =EDATE (15/01/2016,-2) = 15/11/2015 (15th Nov 2016)

      14. Use EOMONTH to move a date onto the end of the month:

      Here’s how to use EMONTH:

      =EOMONTH(15/01/2016,0) = 31/01/2016 (31st Jan 2106)

      =EOMONTH (15/01/2016,-2) = 30/11/2015 (30th Nov 2015)

      15. Remove spaces with TRIM

      TRIM is a useful function known by few people. It removes any spaces at the beginning of a value. This is useful if you are pulling in values from somewhere else.

      16. Repeat commands with F4 or Ctrl+Y

      In many cases, you may need to repeat your last action. Use F4 or Ctrl+Y; you can repeat many commands like applying the same borders, format, or insert a worksheet again.

      17. Quick access to cells with the Ctrl key and Shift key

      When you need to go to the first or last cell of a worksheet, no matter where you are, use Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End combinations.

      And here is a pleasant bonus for you: add the Shift key to select everything on the way!

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      18. Use Ctrl+ to create a timestamp

      If you need a date stamp and/or a timestamp in your document, there is no need to type a date and time! Use shortcuts Ctrl+ ; (date) Ctrl+Shift+ : (time). It works like a magic and helps to save your time and nerves.

      19. Use autosum shortcut for sum function anywhere

      Autosum shortcut – use Alt =. It is a “magic” shortcut of Excel to automatically insert a sum function.

      You can use this shortcut to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step without wasting your time.

      20. Use data validation

      This is an amazing but underutilized tool in Excel, which can be used for a variety of things:

      • Create dependent drop-down lists;
      • Create drop-down lists;
      • Protect/restrict data input of specific cells (without the need for VBA macros).

      21. Use conditional formatting

      It can be used for various purposes such as color format or cell format of cells, rows or columns based on dependent cell values or formats.

      22. Use formula auditing

      This is a great tool to analyze and trace precedent or dependent cells, check errors and evaluate formulas.

      The “Watch Window” is a feature to keep a snapshot of an area of the spreadsheet, and then move to another area of the workbook – particularly valuable if you’re managing large spreadsheets or don’t have a second screen.

      23. Use Scenario Manager to generate summary outputs of a spreadsheet

      Scenario Manager (under “What-if Analysis”) enables users to generate high-level, summary outputs of a spreadsheet – without the need to replicate the entire workbook.

      It will present multiple scenarios of a spreadsheet in a succinct, high-level summary worksheet.

      24. Use INDIRECT to set up large tables

      INDIRECT makes it easy to set up tables which reference larger tables without a lot of referencing work or cutting and pasting; especially for dynamic spreadsheets.

      25. Use OFFSET for complicated calculations or formulas

      OFFSET can be useful for things like calculating YTD numbers or creating formulas that take data in rows and using in columns.

      The bottom line

      As you can see, when you have a boring or tedious job to do, the best way to do it fast is not looking for a way how to avoid it, but searching for the shortest variant to do it!

      That is why we suggest keeping in mind these Excel shortcuts that will help you to save a lot of time and nerves.

      If it seems hard for you to remember all them, you can print out the list of shortcuts and keep it on your worktable. Use it to search for some help when you need it, and over time, you’ll remember all shortcuts easily.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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