Friday, December 5, 2008

Excel saved my life & Sorting issues

(For the Excel sorting "bug", scroll down...)

Personal Tasks
I have been using Excel 2007 as a personal planner for about six months, and I love it. For some reason, this little XLS has made me efficient, and helped reinforce my often-forgotten priorities. I put almost everything on here--the stuff I want to put off, the stuff I won't remember and the stuff that is really important. I don't keep it as specific as "brush teeth today" or "put clothes on", but do put stuff such as "clean house for party" and "vacuum car" that aren't really once-a-week kind of things. When I do a task, I simply place an "X" in the Done column, and then Sort. Here is a screenshot.

You can't understand how this has greatly improved my efficiency. But this is not why we're here.

Sort data problem
I want to discuss something that is common for those spreadsheet movers and shakers: SORTING. Sorting is beautiful for a user, when it works. It took me six months to figure this issue out, so I want to help those in need on this "feature". By default, Excel is supposed to memorize your sorting options from previous saves. It also remembers sort settings on a new instance or a computer restart! This is not new to version 2007, and I think this has been a mainstay since Office 97.

When my "personal tasks.xls" started to get huge, I started sorting. I could prioritize the list and push the finished tasks away from the main list:


This was all good and fine, until I began to sort constantly, sometimes 20 times in a day. To boot, I would often open and close Excel in the process, and that's when I stumbled upon this hair-pulling problem: it would not remember any of my sorting options! So without moaning and groaning, here is the solution:


How it happened

It was my own fault. I love noodling with column titles, and I renamed a few of them over time. Excel does not adapt the sorting tool when you rename the headers! This could be considered a bug, but I doubt Microsoft would flag it as a high priority. And that fricking "My data has headers" really has no purpose, other than cosmetic. In the meantime, you may want to try my personal tasks spreadsheet idea. Who knows, you may be thanking me in a few months (hopefully with cash)!

And another thing...
One more great, great organizing application I discovered a few years ago is Desktop Calendar. It just plain rocks.

1 comment:

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