Get better at making better Google Sheets every single day.
YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1tLfd_bLZI
- Read through all the formulas at BetterSheets.co/formulas
- Read through apps script documentation in Google Sheets Help
- Go to extremes to see the difference between the extremes
- A subtle change can have a big effect.
- Create errors to find out how to conquer them later
- Have a project that’s more than “a spreadsheet”
- Find big meaty problems
- Find simple little problems
- Rubber Ducking
- Read apps script out loud
- Record a video
You can get better every single day.
I once didn't know anything about Google Sheets. I used Excel for 3 years. Even learned Excel VBA. But not because I wanted to learn Excel VBA. It was because I was lazy. I wanted to get stuff done without....well.. doing it.
Switched companies from an Excel company to a Google Sheets company in 2013. Learned how to write one Google Apps Script, in about two weeks. And then never looked back. Just kept learning every single day for 5 years. then left and ultimately started Better Sheets in 2020. And now in 2023 it's approaching 10 years that I've been writing Apps Script and honestly I still don't feel like a master, a guru, a wizard of the ole Google sheets.
That feeling never goes away. I talk about feeling stupid here:
But you don't want to feel stupid, do you?
You want to get better.
Here's 4 ways I think you can get better, if you invest in any of these four methods, each and every day.
Read About All The Formulas
The hardest way to learn Google Sheets is to read through every single formula. It's hard and you probably won't do it. I attempted to make a killer director for you at BetterSheets.co/formulas
It doesn't just explain in text, it has links to blogs and videos about each and every formula. If a Better Sheets video tutorial features that formula, it will link to the tutorial. You can see that formula in action.
Read Apps Script Documentation
If you're trying to learn to automate your sheets, and want to write Apps Script, I also suggest you read. Read a lot. Get comfortable reading. Get ready to read all the time. Coding is like 80% reading.
Get started by taking "Spreadsheet Automation 101" which is a 3 hour course to get you up to speed on Apps Script and automating your sheets. It's on Udemy for nonmembers and available at BetterSheets.co/courses for members.
Take action on what you're exploring
Go to extremes
Take time out of your busy day, to experiment. Find out what goes wrong, or what goes right when you try new things. Use pastels instead of a random yellow color for headers. OR experiment with shades of gray
But I honestly think the best way to test is to to tes the extremes.
Make HUGE, big sweeping changes in one go. And see what happens. Try not using COLOR at all, and see what else is available to differentiate headers.
Check out Button Styles Google Sheet add-on for a big NEON button you can add to your sheets. quite an extreme thing to do.
Subtle Change > Big Effect.
There are more subtle changes you can have that might have big effects. It might be extreme to some, but others using pastels could brighten up your sheet. Use squares instead of rectangles. Use rows or columns with a size of 8, instead of willy-nilly making small rows and columns to break up your sheet.
You'll find little changes like adding some more room, or padding around your data in summaries makes a huge difference.
Create Errors To Conquer Them
One of the most frustrating parts of Google Sheets is getting errors. Errors in code, errors in formulas. No matter what, in the future there will be errors. So there's no better time than now to force the errors. and Find out what they are.
Creating errors sounds like a bad practice but it's helped me identify EXACTLY what caused the error. Knowing now what causes an error makes it very fast later on to debug your formulas and your code.
I like to show off errors to people just starting in sheets. Or people who want to upskill themselves. It seems silly at the time but it'e eye-opening.
People realize the exact cause of the error, and then can even figure it out before the error happens while they're typing a long complicated formula. It speeds you up later, so much that it's worth the up front time investment now to just caus a few errors in a sheet.
Check out this YouTube Video to see some common errors in Apps Script.
Have a Bigger Goal Than "learning spreadsheets"
It's hard to learn something just for the sake of learning that thing. I don't think anyone learns guitar to do anything but play a song. People don't learn guitar to learn guitar. It's because they have a song in mind they want to play.
Have a project that’s more than “a spreadsheet”. Have an overarching thing you want to get done. This application of what youre learning will get you to learn more, and faster. And you'll have the experience of solving to lean on as you try to remember in the future what you did learn.
Find big meaty problems
While it might not seem the best way to learn is to hit your head against the wall every day but it works. Find big huge hulking sweaty meaty problems and try to solve them piece by piece.
While this could lead you astray, while you're on the path, you'll learn a lot of little things that add up.
And those days you feel like everything you tried failed, are the best learning days later. You'll look back and know that you tried 99 ways that it didn't work! It'll speed up your work later on.
Find simple little problems
And also you can try to find little tiny simple problems and do them over and over again. Solve it again and again. Do the reps.
What if you run out of simple little problems?
When you find something is easy, go and try to find others who have a problem you just solved. Go share your solution.
You'll never run out of more people to help. There's 8 billion people on earth. There's 2 billion Google Sheet users.
You can share and explain. Which brings me to one more way you can learn.
If you really want to know if you learned something, If you got better, explain it. Explain it to anyone or no one.
While our experience in Google Sheets is usually working in a company or collaborating with others, our problems can be lonely. Or feel lonely. One way to get through this is to do what's called Rubber Ducking.
Literally get a rubber duck put it by your computer and explain the problem you're trying to solve or what you just solved to that rubber duck.
If you're stuck on a problem, more times than not, the solution or a path to the solution will open up. By externalizing the problem we see it with new perspective.
Read apps script out loud
And one simple way to not feel like a creep talking to a duck about your problem is to just read aloud the script. line by line. Just read it out loud. Every word.
This method I love using for learning and for problem solving.
As simple as it sounds literally reading the text, can helped you learn A) what someone else wrote, or B) where you might have gone wrong.
Record a video
One way I've found that helps me know I learned something, is when I record a video. Of course I've recorded over 1,000 videos in my time running Better Sheets, and it's become an easy muscle to use. But I did start with 1 video.
Loom is an easy technology to start using right in your browser.
Every Single Day?
Yes. Every single day.
7 days a week.
I hope I gave you a few little simple tactics to get better. To get better that little tiny bit, just 1%, every day.
And don't worry if you find yourself googling, chatgpt'ing, asking for help. Getting better is partly knowing what you don't know and asking for help.
Better Sheets has over 300 tutorials to keep you busy every day too.