Over the last two or three weeks, I’ve been reading a book about Excel 2010. A 1200 page book about Excel 2010. I realize most people think I’m nuts - and they don’t have any problem telling me that. I understand that opinion. But for me, it turns out this admittedly geeky book has become an eyeopening - perhaps even life changing - adventure!
I got the book because I recently made the change over from Excel 2003 to 2010. I had worked on 2007 a little, at some of my client’s offices and I found I was very, very lost.
I am a power user of Excel. I use it nearly every day and have for 20 years. I knew I needed a little kick start to get me back up to my previous level of proficiency, rather than just slogging through day by day until my skills were back up to par, so a reference book seemed like the way to go.
The book is/was VERY enlightening, and quickly did what I hoped it would (probably in about 100 pages, really). What else it did was unexpected. It reminded me that we get into ruts and don’t even realize we’re there.
I learned Excel in 1991 or 92, which was something like Excel 4 or 5. I was a convert from Lotus 123 and I went kicking and screaming. It was the early days of my career as a corporate accountant, and I did lots and lots of spreadsheets. There was a small group of us who all tried to “one up” each other with our Excel skills - and that kept us on our toes and learning.
However, somewhere along the way I got really good at what I needed to do, in the way that I knew how to do it and I never really looked at whether there was another way or not. People came to me for tips and help, so why would I think I had more to learn, right?
So over the years I plowed through Versions 95, 97, 2000, 2002 and 2003. With each version I’m sure I added some things to my arsenal of skills, but probably not much.
Along comes the 2007/2010 era and suddenly it is almost as if it is a new program, and so I approached it that way. What an eye opener! In the course of reading over this book I have found dozens of features, shortcuts, or tricks that have been added to the program over the years that I never knew. I knew how to do the same things, but in many cases in a much slower and arcane manner.
The bottom line is when you’ve been doing something for a very long time, and are very good at it, you might - even then - step back and take a look at it with new eyes. You might learn a few things and get even better at it then before!