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Get Organized with Excel!

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/24/2009

Organization is key to a productive life. But, getting organized can be a huge problem for many of us. So, use some tools to get you there! Excel gives you the ability to save important information and finally throw away the clutter that's been on your desk for decades.

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    Organization is key to a productive life. But, for most of us, organization can be a difficult task to accomplish. We have notes scribbled on papers all over our desks or a file cabinet of important dates and numbers to remember. Luckily, Microsoft's Excel program allows you to easily organize all your data into manageable tables.


    Most people think of Excel as an accounting or formulaic program. While it is quite useful for these purposes, it can also be used to help you systematize your own data. The most obvious thing that you can do with your Excel spreadsheet is create a family, or even a holiday shopping, budget.

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    Creating a Table

    The first thing that you probably want to do is create a table with headings. To create a table, simply follow the below steps.

    1. Open a new worksheet.

    2. Right click on Sheet 1 at the bottom, and click rename.

    3. Rename your worksheet.

    4. Select the number of cells (the squares on the sheet) that you need to create the adequate number of spaces to put your information into.

    5. Go to the Insert Tab at the top.

    6. Go the Tables group, and click Table.

    7. Or, you may press CTRL+L or CTRL+T for shortcuts.

    Once your table is made, you want to change the table headers to fit your subject matter.

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    How to Sum Information

    If you decide that you do want to calculate, for example, how much your monthly expenses run, you can Sum all your numeric data. Depending on the version of Excel that you have, you can either just click AutoSum at the bottom of the column that has your expenses. Or, you can use the following formula SUM(ColumnCell:ColumnCell).

    For example, let's say you want to know how much that you've spent between the first day of the month and the tenth day of the month. Your column for this information is D, and the cell corresponding to the first day of the month is 2 (D2). The tenth day of the month is (D11).

    So, your formula would be SUM(D2:D11). You place this formula at the end of your D column, and it will add up all the numbers in the cells between D2 and D11 and provide you with a sum of these numbers. In this way, you can keep track of your budget or spending. With a little more work, you can create a chart or graph that will make this information even easier to analyze.

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    Sorting Information

    But, besides keeping track of notes or spending, you can also use your Excel spreadsheet to keep track of important dates and people. Let's say that you want to be able to know when all the birthdays of your families and friends are. In the first column under the Heading Name (or, if you wish to split this into two columns, Headings First Name and Last Name), you would list everyone's name, the second column could be Birthday, the third Contact Information and the fourth Action.

    The fourth column would be where you put your notes. For example, you could put in whether or not you sent them a card or called them.

    To make things even easier, you can sort your information. If you want the information sorted by birthdays, click on the Birthdays column, and then click on the button for Sort Ascending. You can also sort by name, action or any other way you want. The Sort Ascending and Sort Descending buttons allow you to easily find the information for which you are looking.

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    Final Thoughts

    Excel allows you to create spreadsheets and tables for whatever you need to keep track of. It will provide you with the opportunity to clear up your desk and toss away any unwanted or unneeded paper. You can just keep everything in Excel instead.