Excel can change your life

By Tommy Block, Columnist

Let me propose three random, but nevertheless realistic, scenarios: 

(A) You can’t keep track of your homework.

(B) You’ve forgotten how you managed to spend $100 on groceries in one week.

(C) You feel like you eat at Signature Grill at a disproportionate frequency, and while you’re honored to put your money toward such an upstanding business, you’re really considering researching some new restaurants before you turn into a human falafel wrap.

Like I said, completely random.

What if I told you there are one universal solution for all of these nagging problems and many more? 

Well, my friend, there are not one but two solutions: rows and columns.

We are not equipped to deal with the messy hurdles of daily life on our own. Just as the wheel transformed early society long ago, Microsoft Excel was invented to aid humankind in its quest for pure organizational bliss.

“But Tommy,” you may protest. “Excel is just something that I use to fluff up my resume! Are you telling me I have to use it outside of work? Gross!”

To the doubters: Open your eyes to the full potential of Excel. You also wear your shoes to work, but I don’t think you could imagine a life outside of the office without them.

This past summer, I volunteered to plan the meals on my family’s vacation to New York City. I realized too late I should have charged an hourly rate. I’m not complaining it was a time-consuming task, I’m just saying it would literally take 22.7 years to eat at every restaurant in New York.

For one desperate week, it felt like a futile effort. Browsing through Yelp felt like walking in circles, and the list of restaurants in my Word document had crumbled into an alphabet soup.

Enter Excel. 

What if I wanted to see all my destinations in alphabetical order? With just the click of a button, my wish was granted as if I had waved a magic wand. Duplicates didn’t stand a chance.

But why stop there? Why not make a separate column for the kind of food these spots served? Soon enough, I could put a filter on my list and show you only the Indian restaurants in a matter of seconds. And yes, I could do the same thing with Vietnamese sandwich shops, too.

Why had I never thought to use this miracle tool before? Probably because I’d only ever used it for basic pie charts and painful lab reports.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Try experimenting with Excel. Make a planner with it. Track your expenditures, and stay on top of your budget. Make a list of your favorite songs, and noodle around until you find a perfect playlist. 

Better start by putting all those recommendations into a workbook.

Tommy is a junior in Engineering.

[email protected]