How to use Spreadsheets in your Business
I’d always thought of google spreadsheets and excel as something boring that was only good for numbers and calculating. But recently I realized there were a lot of useful areas for google spreadsheets in a business (and most of them didn’t have anything to do with calculations).
And as spreadsheets have helped me to stay organized and increase my productivity in my business I thought they’d help you as well. At university, I even got a nickname that played on the Swedish word for spreadsheets – that’s how much I enjoy making pretty spreadsheets to organize my life.
I have around 5 spreadsheets that I use to list things, plan and organize thoughts. In this way, I don’t miss anything and I can get an easy overview of what’s ahead of me.
To get you a head start in the spreadsheet game I’ve made 3 different spreadsheet layouts for you to test – and they’re completely free. They are based on the five different areas of application that I talk about below. They also use all of the four customizations I talk about further down in this post.
And with that said, here are five different ways in which you can use spreadsheets in your business to get more productive and organized.
5 Ways to use Spreadsheets in your Business
1. Keep track of posts/projects
One of the main ways I use spreadsheets in my business is to keep track of my blog/Instagram posts. It’s a super-easy way to keep track of what’s done and what you still have left to do. I color code my cells with automated drop downs so that I get a fast overview without having to change the color of every single cell (further down in this post I will teach you how to do this)
I keep different information in different columns so that I have all of the information for every blog post in one place. It’s super convenient when I need to get a blurb or check all of the keywords I already am trying to rank with (you mustn’t try to rank with the same keyword in different posts).
Here’s a screen dump of how I organize my posts spreadsheet.
2. Budget your finances in your business with spreadsheets
I’d say that this is the application most of you think about when you think of ways to use spreadsheets in your business. And I must say, it’s a convenient way to keep track of your finances as you can set up automatic equations that calculate everything automatically.
I usually put all of my revenues in one column, and my expenses in another and then I have an equation that sums up each column and takes the income and subtracts all of the expenses.
In this way, I can keep track of how much I spend and bring in every month and compare those months to previous months.
Here’s an example of how you can set up a budget spreadsheet in your business.
3. Set goals and divide them into weekly, daily or monthly milestones
I have a lot of goals this year in a lot of different areas of my life. And I find it kinda hard to keep track of them all and to divide them into appropriate milestones. This led me to make a spreadsheet completely dedicated to my big goals and how/when I need to achieve each milestone to complete the big goals.
When you just focus on your goals (and not all of the little tasks in between) it’s easier to see the big picture. This year I’ll both study, blog and start my own business – Solei Designs. To achieve all of those things I’ve given each “big project” an own row in the Goal Spreadsheet and divided all of the columns into weeks.
With this spreadsheet, I split the goals and make sure that different projects don’t overlap too much. I can also make sure that I’ll check off every intermediate target.
Here’s an example of how you can use a goal spreadsheet in your business.
4. Make a content calendar with spreadsheets
This one is quite similar to the project spreadsheet. But in my content calendar, there’s not much information about each post but rather dates and specific text/hashtags/pictures.
It’s a super-easy way to schedule all of your different channels in one place. This also makes it easy to keep the same topic across channels and as you can prepare everything beforehand there’s nothing more to do than publish when the day comes.
I usually write down the text that’s supposed to go in the post, the hashtags and then I note the name of the corresponding image (which I store in folders divided into weeks).
5. Track progress in your business
Another way to use google spreadsheets in your business is by keeping track of your numbers and stats. Here you can color code your progress as well so that you can get a quick overview.
You can make the cells green when the thing you measure has increased or red when it has decreased. And if you use different nuances for different intervals you can get a better understanding of your audience preferences.
As an example, you can track your subscribers, views, readers, sales, recipients, followers, etc. You can take notes as well so that you can go back later and learn from your previous strategies.
How to Customize your Spreadsheets in your Business
Do you have another cool idea on how you can use spreadsheets in your business? No probs – here are four different ways with which you can customize your spreadsheets. The possibilities are endless.
How to color code automatically in Google Spreadsheets (conditional formatting)
I love to color code things, pretty stuff is so much nicer to look at. Some of my spreadsheets are like rainbows – It’s almost ridiculous.
But as I was saying – color coding is the best. And you have so much room for creativity in spreadsheets. Especially with automatic color coding. You can tell individual cells that you want their colors/appearance to change based on the value you put in them – and it’s super easy.
For example, if you have a dropdown list you can make the cell change color depending on the value that is showing.
Step 1. Start by standing in the cell you want the automatic color coding to appear in.
Step 2. Go to the menu – “Format”.
Step 3. Click on “Conditional formatting”, a bar on your right will appear.
Step 4. Go to “Format rules” > “Format cells if..” and choose the one that best fits the condition you want to apply.
Step 5. Decide on which formatting you want to apply when the condition is true.
Step 6. Done (or add another rule if you want to create more).
How to create a drop-down list in Google Spreadsheets
Dropdowns are useful when creating lists in your spreadsheet. It saves you time as you don’t have to write the same thing over and over again for something that has a set amount of values.
For example, I use dropdowns in my project/post spreadsheet as I need to keep track of all the projects/posts. There I can choose either “Not started”, “Outlined”, “Drafted”, “Formatted” and “Published”. All of the choices have a pre-chosen color that changes automatically as well.
Step 1. To create a drop-down menu, you need to stand in the cells you want the dropdown to appear in.
Step 2. Then you need to go to the menu – “Data”.
Step 3. Click on “Data Validation”
Step 4. Go to “criteria”, choose “List of items”.
Step 5. Write down the different choices that you want to have in your drop-down menu, divide them with a comma (make sure “show drop-down list in cell” is checked).
Step 6. Save!
How to lock rows and columns in Google Spreadsheets
This one is really easy and it can make quite a difference if you have a big document and labels at the left side or in the top that you want to keep visible as you scroll. But, you can only lock rows that are on the top or on the left of the spreadsheet.
So, if you want to lock a row or column in google spreadsheet you need to do the following thing.
Step 1. Place yourself in the cell on the last row or column that you want to lock.
Step 2. Go to the menu – “View” > “Freeze”.
Step 3. Now you can either choose to freeze the top 1-2 rows or the 1-2 columns to the left. Or you can choose to freeze all of the rows/columns up to the point where your cursor is.
Now when you scroll, these rows/columns stick to the page so that they’re always visible – super convenient!
How to merge rows and columns in Google Spreadsheets
When you want to make a header that stretches over multiple columns it’s prettier and more convenient if it doesn’t get trapped within the first cell.
If you want to break up the cells so that you get one big cell that stretches across multiple columns or rows you can do like this.
Step 1. Mark the cells that you want to merge.
Step 2. Go to the menu – “Format” > “Merge cells”. Now you can choose whether you want to merge all cells or only the horizontal rows or vertical columns.
If you want to unmerge them, just mark them again and go back and press “unmerge” in the menu.
Do you want to play around in a spreadsheet or just grab a free template so that you can get organized?
Here are three different templates that you can download/copy completely free. Just click on the link, go to the menu and make a copy of the spreadsheet (you need a google account).
Weekly Goal Calendar in Google Spreadsheet
Blog Post Planner in Google Spreadsheet
Budget Template in Google Spreadsheet
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