written by
Chris Chua

My Personal Microsoft Excel Journey

Microsoft Excel 4 min read

Hi there!

Today, I'm sharing my personal Microsoft Excel journey with you, hoping that my story will also inspire you to embark on this Excel learning journey.

A short introduction about myself:

I'm Chris Chua from Singapore, a tiny little isle country that is located in Southeast Asia. Not sure if you're familiar with Singapore, it's the country where the 2018 Hollywood blockbuster, Crazy Rich Asians, was based upon.

Movie release poster

I'm an avid learner, data science enthusiast, Microsoft Excel lover, Pythonista, and coffee addict - depending on my mood of the day.

The Start of My Career Life

My career life started after I completed my MBA and 2.5 years of Singapore's mandatory military service. I was so excited when I was offered to work as a junior financial analyst in a small real estate investment firm. I thought that my academic background (of a B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics and a MBA majoring in Finance) would prepare me well for a job performing real estate data analysis and financial modelling.

Photo: Hunters Race / Unsplash

But Reality Was Far From This

Most of my work was to be done in Microsoft Excel, and I did not have much prior experience with this program.

Often, the raw data available cannot be used directly as it's not in the right format. A large proportion of my work hours is spent doing manual data entry from raw data into the format that the management requires instead.

And if the management wanted to edit something, I felt so frustrated doing everything from scratch again.

Photo: Tom Pumford / Unsplash

We weren't taught to use Microsoft Excel formally in Singapore schools, but somehow companies expect us to be able to use it proficiently - even if you are in an admin role.

It doesn't matter what your education level is, if you're working in an office, you're expected to know Excel, and know it well.

The Quest to Learn Microsoft Excel

With so much pain coming from my daily work, I felt the strong need to pick up Microsoft Excel as soon as possible.

But how?

I have no idea what I don't know, and I went the route of Googling "how to" do what I don't know. This learning process was slow, and I felt that I only managed to be proficient in Microsoft Excel after 4 to 5 years later.

Photo: Alex Blăjan / Unsplash

My New Found Excel Powers

With my new found Excel powers, I now fear less at work. Work that used to take days now take mere hours at most. I was no longer wasting time trying to get something to work in Excel. I felt liberated, and empowered to do more.

Photo: Dan Grinwis / Unsplash

How to Learn Microsoft Excel Quickly

The good news is that you don't need to go through a long and slow learning process like me. And that's precisely why I wanted to write this article - to give you some tips to learn Microsoft Excel quickly.

  1. Write down why you need to learn Microsoft Excel: To learn anything quickly, you need a strong motivation to learn. Writing it down somewhere where you can see it daily will motivate you.
  2. Find an Excel curriculum to follow: When you just started, you have no idea what you don't know, nor what to learn. It will be easier to start by picking up a curriculum from an Excel book, coach, class or online course. Don't get caught up choosing your curriculum - when you are an Excel beginner, any curriculum will help.
  3. Make time for deliberate practice: Time is made, not found. Schedule time to learn, either waking up earlier or replace your TV, social media browsing time to practice your new Excel skills. Just reading or listening to tutorials doesn't make you a better Excel user. (Trust me, otherwise I would have been a professional gamer now.)
  4. Don't be afraid: As long as you have another copy of the data, you are free to experiment with different what-ifs. Think about what may happen if you do something, and go ahead and test it out. You'll learn faster by being hands-on.
An Excel expert is an individual who has encountered and made more mistakes than most people.
Photo: Dmitry Ratushny / Unsplash

That is it!

I hope that my personal story can be a motivation for you to embark on your very own Microsoft Excel journey as well. Do share with me your Excel motivation and story, so that you can also inspire others too!

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