You might be starting your journey in any way into spreadsheets. I wanted to share with you about more empowering ways to learn to code and to get through learning to code.
I think the same could apply if you are just now getting into spreadsheets, if you have been working in spreadsheets for a long time and you find yourself lost, you find yourself confused, you find yourself out of your element. You are googling for things and not finding the answer.
I wanted to try to make this from a blank sheet that you might end up in a lot of times. From inside here, I wanted to express to you some thoughts that I have on how to overcome that, to get through it, and not think of sheets as a bad thing.
I kept hearing this phrase, “Not another Google sheet.” This happens a lot in businesses – small businesses, solo businesses, large businesses, in corporations. We were a 30-person company, a little start-up. We were trying to do our best with managing lots of data – hundreds of thousands of pieces of data. We had to manage it amongst many people and I sort of ended up becoming the resident Google Sheet Guru , the Google Sheet guy in the office.
I have a very good comprehension over working and using Google Sheets, but I wanted to go back to the beginning and understand what are those things that you don't know.
How do you get out of that crevice? How do you actually start gaining confidence? How do you actually empower yourself?
In this video that I made for people who are learning to code in Google Sheets, the first thing that I said was that you have to read a lot. Get comfortable reading Google documentation even if it's not complete.
Google Sheets team is constantly working on making their documentation better. I want to share something with you. You can click up here (in the menu) and click on “Help.” There you can also click “Training.” They do have documentation and training.
We can click on “Help” and see what happens.
You can see some featured posts here, some information. I don't think it's the end all, be all, mind you.
What I wanted to show you in addition to that is don't be afraid and don't be scared to see this documentation inside of the sheet.
It's better if you forget all of the syntaxes and just know that they exist here. That has given me more confidence to actually do much more things in Google Sheets.
[If you are constantly using the same formulas, the same functions all the time, you might close this. And when you start writing formulas, it might look like you don't have that information. You select it and then you just start typing to get the average of that.]
I would say turn the formula help back on and always have it available.
This gives me so much confidence that I don't have to remember that syntax. I can just look here and say, “Okay, I need all of these values.” And then what happens is once I start doing this on a few formulas that I know or whenever I use a new formula, I can understand this much more.
The same words are used in every form. I don't have to remember the syntax of each of these different formulas. They are here, let this help you. Don't use this as a crutch. Use this as a podium, like as a stepping stool.
You can also click more into this. If you need more than just the syntax, you can click in and see an example. They will only have like one example most of the time.
You can see inside here some sample usages.
What you can do is you can actually copy paste this. You should be able to copy paste this, put it into your sheet, and see how it runs.
The other thing I would say is you just have to acknowledge and understand that you will go through errors. You will get errors. A hundred percent of people get errors to get more confidence when you get those errors, know that you can overcome these.
You can go to better sheets.co/videos and search for errors. I have at least two videos about errors. Questions and concerns come in from members and they'll send me an error.
Probably the most common you might get is like formula parse error. if you have formattext() and let's say that's not a formula, that's going to be unknown function. You're gonna get an error with name.
If you do write arrayformula(), you will get errors if you write it wrong. Sometimes, it will be very specific. (Watch the video below.)
Sometimes these formulas will try to help you, especially if you're doing something wrong.
Take a look at the formula below. At first, the text is black. This means it doesn’t exist. If it did exist, it will change to a different color.
It's trying to help you know and use Google Sheets better. Google Sheets is helping you along the way more and more. I really like this. It's one of the fundamental functions of Google Sheets that I rely on all the time.
I rely on this as I do more and more complex formulas. I rely on errors to tell me if I did something wrong.
Let’s do another example with the error “Circular dependency detected.”
So that means I'm using the reference, the formula with some range that the formula is in. I can change this to C:C.
Sometimes it's got the wrong number of error arguments expected. It will tell you what's going on. It expects one argument in array formula.
It's telling me I've hit some limit, I've done something wrong, and that it can be overcome, right?
These are things that happen all the time to me. It's constant work. Gaining confidence is never saying, “I will know everything.” It’s knowing the process and knowing how to overcome those errors and what did that error mean. That will help you gain confidence a lot.
One of the tiniest best joys in life is not when I get through an error, but when I try to fix an error and a new one shows up. It is never a bad thing.
Don't think of errors as a stopping point, as an end point. Consider that there's always a way to get over that error.
a bit more on how to gain confidence:
Something else to do, and think about.
I will say this with a huge caveat and almost apologetically: Watch more tutorials in Better Sheets. I particularly think that some videos I've made will help you gain more confidence more than others. Here’s what they are:
A new project in one hour, the build a PR agency in an hour.
I start with an absolutely blank spreadsheet. You will see how long it takes me, what I do to get through things, how I solve little problems. What it will show you is all of those little things that you might not know when you use Google Sheets yourself.
I did this on purpose to show how long it takes to do certain things. I try not to edit. I try to show you the reality of the situation because I want you to learn not just what to do, but all of the things that go along with it.
The other type of video that I have is when I improve someone else's sheet. I call these “sheet improvement.”
They'll show you the process of taking a sheet that exists, that somebody thought of. This is the best way that I could do this in the moment that I have and it shows you someone else's as my own, a third party's perspective on how to take it one step further or two steps further.
That's what I think I can help you with. You might not have confidence in Google Sheets because you just don't know Google Sheets. You don't know what's possible. You don't know how to do things and that's totally fine. Just understand you have to learn. You have to upskill yourself, and that's why a lot of people will buy Better Sheets. They want to improve their Google Sheet skills and I want to give you those few videos.
And then I want to tell you that you're not alone. Nine years into doing Google Sheets professionally and I still do what I just showed you. I still use help inside of Google Sheets. I still Google for things. I still search for how to do things.
Google Sheets Resources
There are new formulas all the time in Google Sheets. It's like 496 of them now. I think there's actually more. You can ask questions to people who are in the same boat as you. We're all on the same boat, on the same situation.
Also, if you're a better Sheets member, you can email me any anytime. Even more than that, there are groups and communities. I have a Facebook group, I Love Google Sheets. Join us. It's totally free. There’s also on Bettersheets.co videos for members. I have a section of member questions. I think right now I have like 20 videos there. I'll be adding many, many more so you can see other people's questions.
You're not alone. Getting into these groups where other people are discussing their problems, you're going to see a whole new side of Google Sheets. I think you will gain more confidence in a few ways.
That's also why I would love to invite you to I Love Google Sheets on Facebook group because you might know something that other people don't know and be able to share that and pass it on and pass it forward.
I have a very small Telegram group for sellers. So if you already create a templates and sell them, then you should definitely join us. That's a fun group because it's really a very small where we all do cool stuff there.
I am pretty open about my journey and how I've learned and discovered Apps Script. Here’s a list of some resources and people that helped me in my journey:
Alice Keeler wrote a blog post about creating a Google sheet add-on, and I was able to use that to gain confidence. I just released my first Google Sheet add-on sheet styles. You can learn more about that in this blog post.
Go get it, install it. 1,659 people have already installed it and I just released it a couple weeks ago. I keep adding features to it. So go grab it for free.
One last thing
just one more, I swear.
We are not learning that skill just to learn that skill. If we learn a guitar, we're not learning a guitar to play guitar, we're learning to play a song. If we're learning to drive, we're not learning to drive just to drive a car. We're learning to drive so that we can go somewhere. If we learn a language, we're not learning language just to learn that language. We are trying to speak to someone.
So if you are trying to gain confidence in Google Sheets, don't try to just learn Google Sheets. Have some project, have something you need to do, some data analysis product that you want to give to other people.
I think that's one of the things that unlocked for me the confidence in Google Sheets, when I saw other people using my sheets successfully. That was a great feeling for me and I want to pass that feeling onto you. I want to make sure that you're confident and able to do that. That this was helpful for you to have to learn, to have a higher purpose, to have something you are going for. We can do it in Google Sheets.
Probably, if you're struggling again, become a Better Sheets member so that you can email me anytime. But there's tons of free stuff available and I hope even if you have no money, you can get more money and make sheets for others and make your be your sheets life better. We can be better. It can be better.
Don’t make any sheets. Make Better Sheets.
Watch the video for this tutorial:
Learn more things you can do with Google Sheets:
Get more from Better Sheets
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you want to do more with your Google Sheets, I have other tutorials, like how to create a timer with Apps Script and learning to code with Google Sheets. Beginner? Intermediate? There’s a lot of tutorials for everybody! Check them out at Bettersheets.co.
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