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Organizing Teams Effectively: 4 Unique Ways Managers Can Utilize Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets can be a great tool for getting organized.

In the digital age, organization goes beyond tidying up the desk.

An avid Excel-user like myself will say that there are all sorts of uses for spreadsheets in day-to-day life: personal budgets, storing addresses, keeping track of passwords, and the list goes on. It’s hard to beat the convenience and readability of information stored in cells. But let’s talk business (as in, what it can do for yours).

Spreadsheets are often seen in the workplace used for data analysis and storing financial information. There are arguments to be had that this is outdated; automated programs are faster and avoid human error.

But that doesn’t mean that the spreadsheet should be abandoned. Think outside the box, but not the cells – spreadsheets are a powerful tool of organization.

Here are a few ways to put spreadsheets to work that you may not have considered.

1. Event planning

Spreadsheets are a great way to compartmentalize to-do lists. In this way, it can make party preparations a breeze.

Compiling every step into one long list of things that need to get done can be overwhelming. The rows and columns of a spreadsheet can be used to break it up, making it more legible, and easier to tackle. For example, decorations and food needed can be two separate categories with checklists for each.

And because we all know that spreadsheets are great for tracking finances, this is a great way to stay on top of the event’s budget, too.

2. Storing employee information

Beyond the file with the work history and government forms, there’s a lot to know about an employee.

Employee information worth storing in a spreadsheet can be anything from phone numbers to availability. Making this information easily accessible to the whole team can be beneficial in many ways; just being able to make a phone call when in need of help can alleviate a lot of stress.

Spreadsheets can also be used to store birthdays and dietary preferences so that showing an employee that you care about them on their special day comes easily. Consider having a space for favorite restaurants or other preferences so that the team has a place to start when it’s time for gift shopping.

3. Tracking metrics long term

It’s true that there’s a lot of software out there these days that will track things like sales or social media engagement on its own. It can save a lot of time and avoid human error. But there are things it can’t do, too.

Instagram, for example, will provide statistics for the last week, month, and 90 days, but most applications won’t store data beyond that. Transferring that information to a spreadsheet will keep it around.

The potential uses for this are limitless. Having a larger data set will better put the metrics into context when analyzing performance, in any category.

On top of that, spreadsheets make it easy to turn data into visuals, producing informative graphics that automated software wouldn’t give you.

4. Digital journaling

Journaling has boundless applications, and the same goes for going digital.

While it’s hard to beat Google Calendar at scheduling, a digital journal can be a great way to map out a presentation minute by minute. Add increments of time down one column and use the cell merging feature in the next to visualize how long you want to spend on each subject.

Like a journal, a spreadsheet can also be a good choice for formatting notes. A bullet journal layout can easily be digitized through the rows and columns of a spreadsheet.

There are a lot of inspiring ways that people have used spreadsheets, as far out as even programming games into them. Don’t cast them aside, because automated programs can’t do it all.

Applying creativity is the key — it’s the element that computers can’t touch. The spreadsheet is your formatted canvas.