Armed with an obsessive love of color-coding and all things related to organization, I’m on a mission to help you maximize efficiency in your business and life so you can spend time on what matters most to you.
Equally right and left-brained, I’m that unique business owner who can think like a creative, but act like an administrator. This blog is where you’ll see me bring that dual-brained magic to life, taking the left-brain side of life and breaking it down for your right-brained self.
By now it’s obvious — I don’t just like spreadsheets. I love spreadsheets.
I hope you’re beginning to see the amazing power packed into this deceptively simple tool and all the ways you can use them in your own life and business, but you might be wondering… as a professed spreadsheet lover, what are my favorite features?
Prefer to listen instead of read? Scroll to the bottom for the audio version of this post!
I don’t remember when I was first introduced to spreadsheets, but it was probably at a fairly young age.
My dad, who’s been a numbers guy my whole life, has always gotten so much delight from building out spreadsheets of epic proportions. At some point, it apparently clicked that spreadsheets could be used for so much more than just managing numbers and, well, the rest is history.
But you might still be wondering, why, Sarah? Why, of all the organizational tools out there, do I love spreadsheets so dang much?
I have yet to find something you can’t use a spreadsheet for, beyond processing payments and some other super technical things like that.
Yes, there are absolutely other tools available that can do some things better than a spreadsheet does, but even with that being the case, you can use spreadsheets for basically anything.
Over the years I have used spreadsheets to create budgets, map out financial goals and revenue plans, plan and write content, organize and plan my wardrobe, track clients and customers, map out script ideas, track my reading, plan my wedding, process and organize feedback, create client strategy guides, map out my client process, organize podcast guests, and so much more.
I am a visual person. I process things so much better when it’s presented in a visual and almost tactile way, and spreadsheets are great for this.
By using conditional formatting, charts, graphics, percentage calculators, and more, it makes it so much easier for me to look at information and quickly process it, even if it’s just on a basic level.
If a task is overdue, even if it takes me a bit longer to process how overdue by looking at the specific date, I can use conditional formatting to immediately know it’s overdue because the cell has turned red.
As a lover of all things planning, I am obviously a fan of anything that’s going to make planning things in my life and business that much easier.
When I first got engaged, I told my husband I wasn’t allowed to do any planning for at least a week. After that week was up, I sat down one night and built out the initial wedding planning spreadsheet. It definitely evolved throughout our wedding planning process, but I shared it with him and said, “This spreadsheet is the key to you having a sane bride.”
Wedding planning for me was an almost entirely stress-free process, and I attribute much of that to the fact that mapping everything out in that spreadsheet and having it all in one place.
Whether it’s your wedding, an event for your business, your content, your budget… whatever, spreadsheets versatility make planning almost anything super simple!
Now that I’ve geeked out over why I love spreadsheets in general so much, it’s time to dive into some of my favorite features! These are the ones I use all the freaking time or, even if I use them infrequently, make my heart so happy and my life as an entrepreneur so much easier!
It’s gonna sound ridiculous and super basic, but I really do love all the text and cell formatting features available in spreadsheets!
Being able to highlight, change row/column size, change the font/font size, wrap text, merge and center… all of those things make me so happy because it makes it easy to turn a super basic spreadsheet into something that isn’t just functional, but beautiful as well.
I especially love that I can add custom colors (hellloooo branding colors) as options for text or highlighting cells. Since I use spreadsheets so much in my business, this makes it so much easier for me to brand my spreadsheets just like I would a PDF or my website!
Probably the simplest thing out there, but oh the day I discovered this, my heart leapt for joy.
If you’re trying to make a spreadsheet pretty, gridlines are the bane of your existence, which is why I love that fact that you can totally remove them and then add them back manually to specific cells using the borders feature if you want!
Since systems and processes are my jam, it’s no wonder I love data validation as much as I do.
If you missed the post on advanced formatting and functions, data validation is a feature that sets up a cell so it basically yells at you (in the form of a little angry triangle in the upper righthand corner of the cell) if that data you’ve put in the cell is invalid.
This allows you to set up cells to use dropdown menus, only accept dates or email addresses or websites, and a whole slew of other things.
Hands down, the form of data validation I use the most is the dropdown menu and it’s just the best.
Next to data validation, conditional formatting is my spreadsheet BFF. I use these two features together a lot, especially when it comes to planning and organizing things or managing tasks.
Because you can format a cell or group of cells based on specific conditions, it’s really fantastic for visual processors like myself.
Whenever I use a spreadsheet to track or manage to dos, I use conditional formatting to change the color of a cell based on where we are in the relation to the due date and where the task is in the process (not started, in progress, complete, etc.).
Combine conditional formatting with the fact that you can use custom colors to highlight cells, and this is the perfect way to set a spreadsheet up to automatically color code things for you, which you know I love.
Like anyone who prioritizes efficiency, there are few things more frustrating for me than typing the same thing over and over and over again… especially because that definitely leaves room for error!
This is why I love the auto-fill features, which allows you to set up cells to pull information from an individual cell or group of cells elsewhere on that same sheet or in a different sheet.
In my content planning spreadsheet, I use this feature to plan out my content in one sheet and have it auto-update with the title of each planned piece for the different steps in content management sheet. This is something I used to have to manually update in Trello and now it saves me so much time!
You can use auto-fill to pull information directly from one cell or in conjunction with formulas to sum or count groups of cells to help process and organize data from elsewhere in your spreadsheet.
I use spreadsheets in practically every area of my life and business and create spreadsheet templates for other people to use. This often means that when I’m working with clients or creating spreadsheets that are similar, yet different, I need to use similar functions, formulas, or formatting.
If I had to create every single spreadsheet or individual sheet from scratch, it would be a complete pain in the neck and waste so much time.
Fortunately, spreadsheets allow you to copy an entire spreadsheet or copy an individual sheet into a new or existing spreadsheet, saving tons of time in having to reformat everything when you’re creating something new!
Well, there you have it! For this professed spreadsheet nerd, those are some of my favorite spreadsheet features.
If you’ll notice, most of them aren’t that complicated. The auto-fill can definitely get that way when you add formulas and the like, but most of them are pretty simple at their core, but that doesn’t make them any less useful or powerful!
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