How to Be Significantly More Productive in Excel

Here's how to boost your Excel output, slash your errors, and delight your managers—whether you work for a small company or a very large one.

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Here's how to boost your Excel output, slash your Excel errors, and improve your Excel reports and analyses—whether you work for a large or small company.The Excel charts below are professional-quality. But that’s not what makes them so unusual. Instead…

You can update them in a few seconds, with one command, without VBA…which saves YOU time.

Your managers can scan results in a few seconds…which saves THEM time. 

And best of all...

The share price index of the US's major partners and trends in their economies.

…you could give your managers many Excel reports, analyses, dashboards, and forecasts about your company’s data—of similar quality. And you could update them all with one command.

Now that’s Excel productivity!

My Excel Productivity Breakthrough

I’ve worked for more than forty years to develop this high level of spreadsheet productivity. And only in about 2016 did everything FINALLY come together for me.

You see, boosting Excel Productivity is not a matter of learning more Excel shortcuts!

It’s not a matter of using one function instead of another. It’s not a matter of learning about a  command that can save you a few seconds once in a while.

Learning those things might be worthwhile, but from the perspective of Excel productivity, they’re irrelevant.

If you want to boost your Excel productivity significantly you need to raise your standards significantly.

By how much?

Look for ways to save hours or days each month—maybe even weeks—while also slashing your Excel errors and giving your managers much clearer information, much more quickly.

What’s the key to such extraordinary gains in Excel productivity?

Simple. It’s just a matter of plumbing:

With good plumbing, water flows from distant sources, through water pipes, to your water glass—almost instantly.

With good plumbing, data flows from distant sources, through data pipes, to your reports, analyses, forecasts, and models—almost instantly.

In a few paragraphs, I’ll show you how to do it. But first, we need to answer an important question:

Is Excel Productivity Really Worth Your Investment?

A long-time CEO told me recently that “productivity” training is a waste of money unless it offers your company a positive return on investment.

“Do you mean that if most of my Excel users take your training I can fire the others?” he asked.

“Do you mean that in a growing company I won’t need to hire as many people in the future?”

“Specifically, what would be the CASH return on my investment in your productivity training?”

I didn’t get the chance to respond, because he had called about something else and quickly changed the subject. But here’s what I would have told him:

Certainly, if your company is hemorrhaging cash and you must fire some Excel users, it makes sense for you to keep the most productive ones. That would allow you to get the most-possible work done for the least-possible cost.

That would give you a positive ROI, but it’s certainly not the ideal.

If I may be a bit corny, allow me to say that without your Productivity course and techniques I learned I would not have been able to survive the last two years at my job. They have helped me immensely.On the other hand, if you’re growing, or if you’re trying to grow, or if your Excel users are already overloaded and you need to hire more people, then your return on Excel productivity can be HUGE!

My training will show your users how to do the same work in much less time, with fewer errors. And that will reduce the number of Excel users you’ll need to hire in the future. 

Because my training also will allow them to spend less time preparing their Excel work, they’ll have more time to research and explain their results. That is, they’ll have more time and energy to search for ways to help your company succeed.

Additionally, they’ll learn how to prepare their reports, forecasts, and analyses to help YOU to consume your reports in less reading time. That is, my training will make YOU more productive, as well. And that would give you more time and ideas to improve your cash flow.

So, yes, it’s worth your investment to improve Excel productivity no matter what condition your company is in.

And here’s how it’s done…

Productive Excel Plumbing

Here’s the Excel plumbing, from source to use:

The data flowed from its source, through Power Query, to Excel reports, forecasts, models, and analyses.
You can skyrocket your Excel productivity when data can flow like this from its source to your reports. Power Query and Pivot Tables offer significant help, but the key is to use reporting Best Practices.

 

Source Data: You can use data from just about any source, including Excel, CSV files, or other types of text files. Your data could come from ERPs like Dynamics, NetSuite, and SAP. It could come from databases like Access, SQL Server, and SAP Hana. And it can come from the Web.

Power Query: Typically, the data flows from each source using Power Query (PQ). We can use data from just about any source because that’s what PQ allows us to do. And we can refresh our PQ queries with one command.

Pivot Tables: With dynamic arrays, introduced for Excel 365 in 2019 and 2020, we can use tabular ranges to serve the same purpose as Excel Tables for our reports, plans, analyses, and so on. And Pivot Tables can access Power Pivot data, which Power Query can’t.

Excel Tables and Tabular Ranges: Both types of tables are data stores designed for easy reference by worksheet functions. And they’re critical for the next step.

Best Practices: (This is what took me so long to figure out!) You need to know many best practices to flow your data easily between your tables and your reports. The best practices include:

1. Range Naming Conventions… 
…so that you can use IntelliSense more quickly and easily when you create new formulas.

2. The Design of Control Sheets and Control Ranges…
…so that you know exactly which cells or columns to reference in your formulas, and you can reference them quickly and easily.

3. Key Formula Patterns… 
…so that you know the quickest and easiest ways to analyze and display data in Excel.

4. Professional Charting and Dashboard Methods…
…so that you can create boardroom-quality presentations like the charts above and the charts and dashboard you’ll see below.

5. Staging Tables for Charts and Summary Tables…
…so that you have a quick and consistent way to arrange your data for charts and summary tables…so that you can update the data, titles, units of measure, and other chart information automatically when you update your data each period, or change a measure to display in a report.

6. Dynamic Range Names…
…so that your range names can adjust automatically as you add or remove data in your staging tables.

7. Sorting Data with Worksheet Formulas…
…so that you can automatically update top-ten, bottom-ten, 80-20 reports, and so on each time Power Query updates your data. (Bonus 7 below shows you a top-ten / bottom-ten chart that automatically sorts its data with formulas.)

8. Managing the Scope of Range Names…
…so that you can assign your names quickly, avoid errors, and use self-documenting references to your data.

9. Conditional Formatting…
…so that your reports can generate alerts and can adapt easily as the number of rows in your reports shrink and grow.

10. Excel Templates…
…so that your reports and analyses are already about half-done, with no errors, when you first start to create new ones.

11. Rolling Time-Series Forecasts…
…so that you can treat forecasts like reports that update automatically when new historical data is available for your forecasting formulas.

12. Economic Data…
…so that you can report performance in the context of external data, and find leading indicators of performance.

13. Workbook Consolidation…
…so that you can use Power Query to consolidate any number of budget workbooks with one command.

14. The Most-Powerful Multi-Criteria Lookup Method…
…so that your formulas can easily return numbers and text from Excel Tables by using any number of criteria.

15. Coherent Workbook Structures…
…so that you can replace the spaghetti data flows in your reports and analyses with logical data flows that are easy to understand—even months or years after you first created your report or analysis!

16. Simple VBA…
…so that you can update, save, and email any number of workbooks or PDF files in a list, with one command.

17. Professional-Quality Dashboard Designs…
…so that you can give your managers charts and summary tables that they can consume quickly and easily.

18. Interactive, Multi-Criteria Excel Dashboards…
…so that you can summarize a significant amount of data in one professional-quality, interactive Excel dashboard that offers many ways to filter its data.

19. Pivot Tables…
…so that you can explore data and create lists for use with slicers.

20. Slicers…
…so that you and your managers can interact with your data by clicking slicer controls.

And we’ll cover many more topics, of course.

Did You Miss It? You can Fully Automate Your Excel Reporting!

Did you miss the full implications of #16 above? You can use a simple macro to update and distribute all your Excel reports!

Let’s think about this idea for a second…

Here’s how you usually update your Excel work when you use a productive strategy:

1. You open last-period’s workbook.

2. You refresh your data with one command, using Power Query or Pivot Tables.

3. You distribute your refreshed content—probably as an emailed PDF file or workbook. And you also might print a copy.

4. You repeat the process with another workbook, and then another, and so on.

But you can create a short VBA macro to take those steps automatically. Here’s how…

In a new workbook, set up a Reporting Table with a column that has the full path to every workbook you want to process as a batch. Add a macro to that one workbook, a simple macro that opens the first workbook in your list, refreshes its data, saves it as a workbook and/or PDF file, prints and/or distributes it by email, closes the workbook, and then loops back to the next workbook, and then to the next, and so on.

You could launch the macro just before you leave work for the day, and have all your reports updated and distributed before you arrive the next morning.

Now THAT’s productivity!

Do you see why it’s possible that you could save WEEKS by using my productive methods?

To be clear, your macro would NOT create any reports. That would be too much work and risk. Instead, your short macro simply refreshes and distributes your listed workbooks.

And that’s just a small part of what my Excel Productivity training will teach you how to do!

Two Key Problems that Excel Productivity Training Solves

Most of the problems blamed on Excel—most Excel Hell problems—have been caused by the lack of well-designed Excel data plumbing.

Using Excel without solid plumbing causes two significant problems

Problem #1: Time Demands with Excel

This is usually the first productivity problem that most Excel users (and their managers!) think about.

I’ve consulted for companies where Excel users spent most of their standard time—and dozens of overtime hours each month—working on spreadsheet scutwork. But when you set up your data plumbing properly, you can eliminate about 99% of it.

Specifically…

● Updating Your Data: With Power Query or Pivot Tables, you can update your workbook data with one command. This step is necessary, but more needs to be done.

● Updating Your Reports: Your formulas can update your Excel work automatically—if you design your reports, analyses, forecasts, and dashboards to use best practices. But if your Excel work doesn’t have productive plumbing, you’ll still need to spend time to update your reports even after you’ve refreshed your data.

● Revising: With best practices, most manual revisions aren’t necessary. Instead, your reports can adapt automatically as your data updates, or your fiscal year changes, or you change your report from one division to another, or you add a new product or division, or you consolidate disparate charts of account, or whatever.

● Consolidating: Power Query can consolidate any number of workbooks with one command, as I show you how to do in my Productivity training.

In short, when you set up your Excel work to use my productive data-plumbing method, you free up vast amounts of time.

Problem #2: Errors with Excel

All new software tends to have a high error rate, and—according to surveys—that includes most Excel work. But the longer any software is used, the more errors (“bugs”) are discovered and corrected—ratcheting down the remaining errors.

Unfortunately, most Excel users tend to rebuild and modify their reports frequently. By doing so, users deprive their reports of the beneficial effects of long experience curves.

In other words, software developers would classify most Excel report workbooks as alpha software. From this perspective, Excel reports have surprisingly few errors.

But when you use best-practice Excel data plumbing, you use the same workbooks over and over again—but with updated data each time. Not only does this slash your workload, it gives your workbooks a long experience curve. So—just like commercial software—you can ratchet down the errors in your reports nearly to zero.

You also can set up your workbook to alert you to errors, as you’ll see shortly.

Right now, however, you have two choices. First, you can do nothing different and continue spending too much time doing Excel scutwork…

…or, you can move up to a productive, low-error methodology for your Excel work. If you choose Excel Productivity, you’ll need to learn a lot. But the results will be worth your effort.

Why This Training Is Different

Most other Excel training is one-dimensional. It can be vertical, which teaches a lot about a single feature of Excel, like Power Query, VBA, or Power Pivot. Or it can be horizontal, which teaches beginning or intermediate Excel.

Some of those one-dimensional courses are great. But they won’t make you more productive at work. After your one-dimensional training, you’ll probably work just as hard with Excel as you did before your training. And you’ll probably make more errors because you’re trying to do more with Excel.

One-dimensional training says, “Now that you know a lot about hammers, or now that you have an overflowing toolbox, go build that residential neighborhood!”

In contrast, Productivity training is multi-dimensional. It teaches you how to quickly and accurately do professional-quality Excel work in a business environment.

It teaches you how to build that neighborhood!

The Excel Versions & Prerequisites You’ll Need

Productivity training will teach you to be productive in Excel. But which Excel?

I’ve written this training for Office 365 and Excel 2016 and above. So if you’re still using a version earlier than Excel 2016, please upgrade to the “Current Channel” of Office 365, which gives you monthly updates.

However, where Excel 365 has a significant feature that Excel 2016 doesn’t have, I’ll teach you that new feature. For example, Excel 365 doesn’t have the XLOOKUP function, which typically replaces INDEX-MATCH formulas. Therefore, I’ll teach you both methods.

If your company won’t upgrade to a current version, I suggest that you invest in the Current Channel of Office 365 for your home computer. Professionally, you need to be current with Excel, even if your company decides otherwise.

And Office 365 is cheap! Its monthly cost is about the average cost of a pizza in the US, or the cost of two Big Mac Meals.

Also, when you start Productivity training, you’ll need to have at least lower-intermediate Excel skills. When I ask you to copy something, to format a date, to insert a column, to enter a formula, and so on, I won’t tell you how to do it.

Why Should You Take Productivity?

My goal is to make you one of the most-productive Excel users in the world.

But this goal is about far more than just your personal productivity. It’s about what your world-class Excel productivity can bring to your employer, your career, and your personal life.

Your Employer

If you’re like most Excel users in business, you’re a Subject Matter Expert (also called a Domain Expert). That is, you have professional training in Finance, Marketing, Engineering, HR, Production Control, Statistics, Biology, or whatever.

Think about it. Because you’re a Domain Expert and an Excel user…

You and the other Excel users in your company are the best-qualified people to combine professional knowledge, intuition, and data to discover new risks and opportunities for your company.

You’re best qualified to explain your results in a way that gives your managers the insight—the deep understanding—they need.

But you can do those things well only if…

You can overcome the boring and repetitive Excel work—the scutwork—that consumes so much of Excel users’ time and energy in most companies, and,

You can do more of the fun and important work—the brainwork—that your company really needs from you, once your Excel productivity has freed up more of your time.

Your company’s managers need your thinking time, your knowledge, and your professional curiosity. They need your professional insights. And that’s what your world-class Excel productivity will allow you to give them.

Be honest…

Are you really using your professional training, experience, and creativity today?

Wouldn’t you LIKE to?

Your Career

Suppose you were twice as productive with Excel as you are now. That would give you the TIME to talk with your managers—to better understand their business strategies and information needs.

It would give you the TIME to…

  • brainstorm ideas,
  • discover new insights from the data,
  • improve your Excel work,

…and, give your managers the insight they need to improve their own performance.

And, as one Productivity subscriber wrote me recently, it might even help you to survive in your job.

In fact, it might even help you to help your company recover from the continuing economic crisis that Covid-19 has brought to the world.

Or suppose you want to look for another job.

In September, 2020, an Amazon job posting included these “Preferred Qualifications” for a Senior Finance Manager, with total annual compensation of $260,000:

Strong analytic and financial modeling skill and advanced knowledge of Excel.

Comfortable analyzing large volumes of complex data and presenting findings to senior leadership.

Comfortable diving deep into data and processes to make recommendations.

Highly motivated, resilient, thoughtful, proactive, and intellectually curious.

Could you satisfy Amazon’s reporting and analytical requirements with Excel unless you could use the productive Excel plumbing shown again in the following figure?

Could you remain “highly motivated, resilient, proactive, and intellectually curious” unless you could free yourself from Excel scutwork, and become highly productive in Excel?

Using productive Excel plumbing like this is the only way to achieve high-level Excel results—for Amazon, or for any other company.

The data flowed from its source, through Power Query, to Excel reports, forecasts, models, and analyses.
You can skyrocket your Excel productivity when data can flow like this from its source to your reports. Power Query and Pivot Tables offer significant help, but the key is to use reporting Best Practices.

Your Personal Life

I occasionally think back to the days when I used spreadsheets as an employee and a consultant. In my memory, I see lonely office buildings at night, completely dark, except for the area around my desk and the safety lights in the stairwells.

Back then, I hadn’t worked out best practices to bring the high level of productivity we can achieve today. That’s why I spent so much time at work. And that’s why I didn’t get married until I was 36.

Your personal life is important. And your greater Excel productivity will give you more time to enjoy it.

Your Productivity Lessons

You’ll receive your Excel productivity lessons every month for more than two years, but you can stop whenever you want, of course.

The training is solutions-based. That is, you’ll learn what you need to learn so you can do what you need to do in Excel. By taking this approach…

  • You won’t get overwhelmed by trying to learn everything about Excel, which is impossible to do anyway.
  • You’ll remember what you learn, because you’ll be using it on the job.
  • You’ll be immediately productive, and grow even more productive over time.

Your first lessons will concentrate on the foundation of Excel productivity. And then we’ll move into Power Query, then VBA, and we’ll find even more ways to use and improve your Excel productivity.

Here’s what your first few lessons will cover…

Lesson 1: The Productivity Foundation

An interactive Excel financial report in a dashboard format
The first control in this simple Excel report allows you to choose the date to report from a list of dates. And the second control allows you to choose the region to report from a list of regions.

This lesson—which is about twice the length of a normal lesson—introduces the entire strategy, with one exception: It uses a CSV file as your data source rather than Power Query.

Beginning with that CSV file, you’ll learn how to create the simple interactive Excel report shown here.

You can update this report merely by using updated CSVs and by changing the report date from March to April to May, and so on. That is, it adjusts to your data automatically, with one click. And with another click, you can update its fiscal year. You also can switch from region to region.

(I mentioned the fiscal year because I’ve seen Excel users in large companies spend weeks of 12-hour days to update their many Excel reports for the new fiscal year. What a needless waste of time!)

In addition to being an interactive report, you could print it, or save it as a PDF file…without showing the black-and-gray frame that surrounds the report.

By the end of this lesson, you’ll have the complete foundation ready for the rest of your Productivity training—with the exception of Power Query, which you’ll start in Lesson 4.

And you’ll understand how you can update your Excel reports in seconds!

But that’s not all we cover in Lesson 1. The lesson also shows you how to slash your errors in three ways.

Error-Slasher #1
An example of an automatic error-alerting system in Excel, which uses text and conditional formatting.
When one of the errors defined in a Table is returned, your report turns red and displays the warning at the top.

Lesson 1 shows you how to set up an automatic error-alerting process, which uses text and conditional formatting to alert you to an error, as shown here.

And unlike most Microsoft error warnings, this error-ID process includes a table that tells you where the error exists in your workbook and why it’s an error.

Error-Slasher #2

By virtually automating your reports (without using macros) you protect your reports and analyses from new errors.

That is, because you won’t need to touch your workbook whenever you update it, you protect it from yourself…and the mistakes we all make when were’ tired or rushed.

Error-Slasher #3

Lesson 1 describes how to use Excel templates and formula-based automation to ratchet down the errors in your new reports and analyses.

Excel templates can give you the power to be about half done before you even start a new report, analysis, or whatever. And if you start with an error-free template, you not only can save about half the time to create a new report, you also can cut your errors by half.

Lesson 2: Dashboard Productivity

In Lesson 2 you’ll create this simple, interactive Excel dashboard report of analytical data.
This simple dashboard will show you how to compare the sales of the two products you choose, for any two regions you choose, and for any month you choose.

Lesson 2 builds on the foundation you learned in Lesson 1. In this lesson, you’ll create this simple, interactive Excel dashboard report of analytical data.

The key to Excel dashboard reporting is to get your plumbing set up correctly, as you’ll learn in this lesson.

You’ll learn not merely how to create interactive charts of your source data, you’ll also learn how to chart any transformations of the data that you can perform in Excel.

The charts in this lesson are simple, but business-quality. Future lessons will teach you how to create world-class charts in Excel—charts that look extremely professional and that your managers can read quickly and understand easily.

You’ll see some examples below.

In a future lesson, you'll learn how to create this dashboard, which allows you to display actual economic information.
This dashboard allows you to use four slicers, which control Pivot Tables, which control settings, which control the the nine charts in the dashboard—as well as all titles and the report date.

The Mini-Dash isn’t the only dashboard you’ll learn about, of course. In Lesson 8 you’ll learn how to create this dashboard, which allows you to use slicer-controlled Pivot Tables to display actual information for…

  • Any 9 of 38 countries.
  • Any one of 12 measures.
  • From 1 to 12 years of data.
  • Either the original data or its year-over-year growth rate.

This dashboard gives you access to more than 400 data series and more than 71,000 rows of data from the Federal Reserve Economic Database (FRED). The data is updated and maintained by Power Query, of course. And you’ll flow the data from PQ Tables to your charts by using best practices.

You could use the same methods to display data about your company’s products, departments, divisions, and so on.

Lesson 3: Formula Productivity

Productivity training will turn you into an expert in productive Excel reporting and analysis. It does that by concentrating on productive methods while ignoring areas of Excel that typically aren’t relevant to improving your productivity.

Specifically, here are some of the topics we’ll cover about formulas…

● Using the “S” data functions: SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, AVERAGEIFS, MINIFS, and MAXIFS. This includes complete training in their criteria wildcards and criteria operators. (Because some of these functions aren’t available to Excel 2016, you’ll learn how to use other functions to return the same results.)

● Debugging the “S” data functions. You don’t debug “S” functions the way you do most other functions. So Lesson 3 gives you the specific process you can use to debug your “S” formulas quickly and easily.

● Multi-criteria lookups. This section explains the complete process for setting up multi-criteria lookup formulas that use the SUMIFS function to return both numbers and text.

(Think about that for a second…The SUMIFS function can return only numbers. So how can you use SUMIFS to return text? You’ll learn the answer in Lesson 3.)

● Using the IFS and nested IF functions. As you progress in Excel, you’ll often need to to use nested if functions. When most Excel users use nested-IF functions, their formulas often become nearly incomprehensible.

That’s why Microsoft gave us the IFS function in Excel 2019 and 365. But if you have Excel 2016, there’s an easy way to make your nested-IF formulas significantly easier to understand. You’ll learn about both methods in Lesson 3.

● Common transformations. Many of your reports contain—or should contain—common transformations of your data, including: the annual rate of change (ROC), rolling 12-month results, transforming percentages and ratios for use with charts, smoothing your data, and so on. Lesson 3 also includes a section that explains easy ways to set up these transformations. 

Are you beginning to see why Excel beginners should avoid this training until they reach at least a lower-intermediate level in Excel?

Lessons 4 & 5: Beginning and Intermediate Power Query

Power Query (PQ) is a challenging program to learn on your own, and it’s difficult to become an expert with it. The good news about PQ, however, is that we don’t need to become PQ experts to be very productive with it.

Several Excel MVPs teach outstanding PQ courses. To do so, they immerse you in the topic. Some of them do so for three long days in a city near you.

But I take a different approach in my Productivity training. Rather than submerging you in a PQ ocean, I cut up PQ training into bite-sized chunks, each of which is designed to solve several work-related challenges.

I introduce you to PQ in Lessons 3 and 4. Ideally, I could teach you how to download the specific data that you use every day. But that’s not a practical solution—unless I put on my consulting hat.

So, instead, I explain how to…

  • use PQ to download web data from the Federal Reserve Economic Database (FRED) to Excel Tables,
  • use settings in your workbook to modify PQ queries,
  • turn those queries into custom PQ functions, and,
  • set up queries that use those functions to download and consolidate data from any number of Fred data series.

I use the FRED database extensively in my Productivity training, for two reasons.

First, I don’t have access to your company’s data. But FRED offers more than three-quarters of a million time series from more than 100 sources—free. So we’ll work with real data, instead of artificial data.

Second, you should know about FRED’s data because it can provide leading and coincident indicators that could help you with business planning and reporting. It offers city, county, state, US, and international data—data about commodity prices, financial performance by industry, interest rates, recession indicators, currency exchange rates, population trends, measures of inflation, unemployment data, real estate sales data, and much more.

In fact, FRED data can make your internal data more valuable. This is because your internal data merely tells you what happened, but external data provides context that can help you to understand why it happened, and what might happen next.

With the knowledge you’ll gain about Power Query, you’ll easily be able to include data about your business environment—by city, county, state, and country—in your own management reports, forecasts, and analyses.

You’ll also learn how to set up similar methods to consolidate data from any number of CSV files.

The Training Process

All Productivity lessons will be delivered as PDF and workbook files, not videos. Yes, everyone creates video training these days, but I’m not doing that. Here’s why…

The first page of Productivity, Lesson 1. It introduces you the the Productivity Foundation, the Only General Strategy for Slashing Errors and Production Times in Excel.

● You can’t browse videos. If a page of training explains something you already know, you quickly can browse PDF content and then slow down when you find content that’s new to you.

● You can’t study videos. What if you run into content that you really don’t understand? With a PDF, you can re-read the paragraphs that preceded it. You can compare the document and the workbook side-by-side. And you quickly can review similar ideas from other pages.

● You can’t copy and paste formulas and other content from videos. But you can copy and paste from PDFs.

● You can’t add notes and bookmarks to videos. Both the Kindle and the Adobe Acrobat readers, which are free, allow you to add your own notes and highlights to PDF pages. You also could print your PDF and mark up your printed pages.

● You can’t search videos. With Windows File Explorer, or the Mac equivalent, you can search your Productivity workbooks and PDF files for the words and phrases you need, and then quickly see a list of the files that contain those items. And you can search within your Adobe or Kindle readers. That is, you can use your Productivity files as reference material.

● You can’t translate videos. I have had subscribers from every continent except Antarctica, subscribers who speak Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Azerbaijani, Spanish, Greek, a Bantu language, English, and so on. Non-English speakers can search translate pdf documents online to find many ways to translate PDF documents into other languages.

In short, I want you to actually learn this stuff—whatever your language—and then use my training files for reference in the future. And that’s why I don’t use video.

Your subscription also includes…

The Productivity Workbooks

Each lesson explains the strategy and tactics for building workbooks that will make your Excel work more productive.

Some of the workbooks will be Excel templates that you can save and use to create your own reports. Others will be examples used in the training.

But it gets better, because you’re also getting seven bonuses, six of which use this plumbing strategy to flow data from the web into your bonus workbooks:

The data flowed from its source, through Power Query, to Excel reports, forecasts, models, and analyses.

Bonus 1: The Three-Second Report Short Course

This Short Course teaches you how to start with an empty workbook and create this short report about the NASDAQ stock index.
The mini-report that the Short Course teaches you to create. It’s called the Three Second Report because it takes about three seconds to update it each month…depending on the speed of your internet connection.

This daily report would take half an hour or more to set up the first time. But you can update it in less than three seconds, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Somewhat like Lesson 1, the Three-Second Excel Report Short Course teaches you how to start with an empty workbook and create this short report about the NASDAQ stock index.

This is a full Short Course, with the workbook and 19 pages of instruction. When I get around to setting it up as a product, I’ll probably charge about $60 for it.

The data for this report comes from the FRED database on the web. The workbook uses Power Query to download the data to your workbook.

The first page of the PDF file with the training.And the workbook is included with the training, of course.

If you don’t care about NASDAQ data, that’s okay. The training includes a list of other daily-updated data that you’ll learn to report instead, including other stock market indexes, currency exchange rates, commodity prices, interest rates, real estate trends, the prices of gold and silver, and even the daily price for Bitcoin.

In this bonus training, you’ll learn how to…

  • Use Power Query to download closing stock indexes and other daily-updated data from the Web.
  • Stage current data for your charts to reference.
  • Create a professional-looking Excel bar chart and line chart of your data.
  • Refresh the data and update your report each day in about three seconds—depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Bonus 2: A Professional-Quality Line Chart

Ultimately, Excel Productivity is about being productive in explaining business data to managers and other people in your company. That means we must flow our data to charts and tables that are easy for your managers to understand quickly.

That’s why your Productivity training will include training about charts and tables. And that’s why I’ve decided to add this chart with your training.

You can update this chart each week with one command, using Power Query.

The professional-quality Excel chart: Fuel Prices Recover.You’ll get this chart figure with Lesson 2. It shows both the limits and the advantages of using professional-quality Excel chart figures.

A potential limit involves what you write within the figure. For example, if you’re very short of time you probably won’t want to update the text each period. Instead, you’ll want to use a generic title and description.

However, if you’re more productive in Excel, you might find the time to add comments  to chart figures like this, comments that could give your managers more information about your data.

Additionally, of course, you might decide to copy charts like this to PowerPoint presentations or to written documents.

Aside from updating the text, the rest of this figure is easy to set up. We merely have three line plots and an unusual way to set up legends.

Bonus 3: A Professional-Quality Column Chart

The 'Have We Bottomed Out?' bonus Excel chart.You’ll get this bonus Excel figure with Lesson 3.

The title and subtitle provide another example of text that could explain the data.

Or your text could contain more generic information if you choose not to update the text each period.

Primarily, however, the figure shows, again, that you have significantly more freedom to create professional-looking charts than you might have imagined by looking at typical examples of Excel charts.

Bonus 4: A Boolean Chart

This Excel chart plots Boolean (true/false) conditions with a line plot.Lesson 4 includes this bonus chart, which plots Boolean (true or false) conditions with a line plot.

You could use a design like this to show when conditions occur that might have affected actual sales or other trends. Bad conditions could be like hurricanes, riots, snow storms, delivery problems, strikes, and so on. Good conditions could be like new advertising, phases during the recovery from a pandemic, unusually rainy or sunny weather, and so on.

The two areas of gray shading in the figure indicate the two US recessions in the 2000s.

Bonus 5: Share Prices by Country

This Excel column chart is unusual because each block of column plots is a different color. You’ll get the workbook with this figure in Lesson 5.

Can you figure out how I set up the chart to display each block of column plots in a different color? You’ll learn how to do it with this bonus.

Another unusual thing about this chart is the font I used for the title and the names of the regions. You’ll learn how to get this font for free in Lesson 5.

This Excel column chart is unusual because each block of column plots is a different color. You’ll also get this version. I couldn’t decide which color scheme I liked best, so I’m giving you both of them.

If you look at the substance of these chart plots, you can see that when Covid struck, the share prices in most of the United States’ major trading partners fell like a rock, except for those in China.

You could use a chart like this to compare sales or gross profit margins by region, or to compare profits or other measures for publicly traded companies in your industry to your own internal data, or to compare headcounts by subsidiary, and so on.

Bonus 6: 

This Excel calc-plot chart helps you to make pricing decisions with the tip of your finger or a pencil.Lesson 6 includes the only bonus chart that doesn’t use external data.

This “calc-plot chart,” relies on calculated columns to help you to decide whether to raise or lower prices.

This bonus includes a similar chart that helps you to decide whether to raise prices instead.

The bonus also includes a link to my article that explains the use of these charts, the formulas behind them, and how to create them.

Bonus 7:

An Excel column chart showing unemployment rates by state.In Lesson 7, you’ll get this chart, which shows the top- and bottom-ten states, ranked by their most-recent unemployment rates.

Unlike the “headline” unemployment rate, these rates are updated weekly. They show the number of people drawing unemployment insurance as a percentage of those covered by the insurance.

As usual, this chart updates with one command. But what isn’t usual is that it uses formulas to sort the unemployment data by state. And therefore, as the rankings of states change from week to week, they shift their positions in this chart figure.

You might use a figure like this to show your company’s sales or gross margins by state, or by product. Or, if you’re planning to expand to a new state, you might use this chart as it is to help you guide your decisions.

In later lessons, I’ll explain how to create these and other professional-quality charts like this from scratch.

Here’s What to Do Next

Until the Covid-19 worldwide economic disaster, the price for subscriptions to this one-of-a-kind Productivity training was $279 per month. But now, you and your employer probably need all the recovery help you can get.

Get Excel Productivity Training for Two-Thirds Off.That’s why I’ve slashed the price of Excel Productivity training from $279 per month to only $87 per month.

Your $87 subscription price will never increase. And you can unsubscribe at any time.

As soon as you sign up, you’ll get a welcome message with a link to your first lesson, your workbooks, and the first of your bonuses. Then, monthly, you’ll receive emails with links to the new lessons, workbooks, and bonuses.

To get started, choose Excel Productivity NOW.

Do you manage other Excel users? This price is equivalent to only about six minutes of payroll cost per workday for an average Excel user working for a US company. So now’s the time to enroll each of your Excel users in this unique training.

To boost your department’s Excel productivity, choose Excel Productivity NOW.

Natural Questions

I can almost hear some questions that might be occurring to you at this point. Let’s see if I can answer some of them…

“This Is a Lot to Learn. Can I Actually Do This?”

Years ago, when I taught a room full of accountants about Excel dashboards, a young accountant came up to me during a break and said, “I’ll never learn it all.”

“No one ever learns it all,” I said. “Instead we become experts in the areas of Excel that are most important to our career, and that interest us the most.”

With that question in mind, I’m working to teach Excel users in business the productive core for the management and presentation of data in Excel. But if you do get into trouble, you can just email me directly.

This Short Course teaches you how to start with an empty workbook and create this short report about the NASDAQ stock index.

Lesson 1 will take more time than normal, because it’s 31 pages long. It also includes the Three-Second Report that I told you about.

From another perspective, users from many parts of the world began this training with even less Excel knowledge than you probably have. And now, they’re working at a much-higher level with their Excel data than you probably are.

So yes, you definitely can learn how to be productive in Excel! I’ve got your back.

Is This Better Than Some Other Option?

The answer depends on where you are and where you want to go.

If you’re not satisfied with your current level of Excel productivity, or with the quality of your Excel reports, forecasts and analyses, there’s no other training program like this. My Productivity training teaches you how to implement the only general strategy—and the best practices—to achieve a massive increase in Excel productivity in a business setting.

However, if you have a solid productivity framework in place, you often can add additional training to enhance some aspect of your productive Excel system. For example, if you need higher levels of expertise to create advanced Power Query queries, or advanced uses of VBA, then I can recommend other people who offer in-depth training about those specific topics.

This is a limited offer.  So register now, while the price is so low.

Your company needs your help to find ways to recover and thrive after the Covid downturn. Get started today!

You can stop at any time, and your price will never increase.

Stay safe,

Charley

P.S. In case you’re one of those people, like me, who just skips to the end of the message, here’s the deal…

I’m offering you my Excel Productivity subscription, which teaches you how to become significantly more productive in your reporting, analysis, forecasting, budgeting, and modeling.

Get Excel Productivity Training for Two-Thirds Off.Becoming more productive in Excel will slash your reporting times and errors, give your managers greater insight, and leave you more time for your friends and family.

The Covid-recovery price is only $87 per month, which is equivalent to about 6 minutes of payroll cost per workday for an average Excel user working for a US company.

So if you’re a manager of Excel users, and you want to boost your department’s Excel productivity—while also improving the professional appearance of your department’s Excel work—now’s the time to sign up all your Excel users to this unique training.

You can stop your subscription at any time, and your price will never increase.

The subscription includes the monthly PDF and workbook files that teach you the only strategy known that can skyrocket your Excel output and slash your errors…with continual improvement of your Excel reporting and analytical system.

You get tons of workbook examples with the training.

Bonus 1 gives you The Three-Second Report short course, which teaches you how to use Power Query to create a report of the NASDAQ Composite Index. You can update this report daily in less than three seconds, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Get Excel Productivity Training for Two-Thirds Off.Bonuses 2-7 give you the six professional-quality charts I showed you several pages ago. You’ll be able to update those charts with one command.

You get all of that for the Covid-recovery price of just $87 per month. You can quit at any time, and your subscription price never will increase.

Register now to start your subscription. You won’t regret it.