Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is Excel like bicycle riding?

To phrase the question more accurately: Do we remember and retain the MS Excel things we learned all our lives, the way we are supposed to be able to ride a bike forever, once we have learned it?

I started thinking about this while updating some year-end finance spreadsheets. Back when I was working, until six months ago, I used Excel regularly every day. I was not an expert by any means, but I worked with people who were very good at VB and I learned from them. In the last six months I haven’t used VLOOKUP, haven't created any new macros, haven't even used 'AutoFilter'.

All the retirement books seem to obsess about the money outlasting the person. I feel that for someone who is taking a sabbatical the biggest fear is not about money. If my financial net-worth dwindles, I can offset that by getting a paying job. But if my cerebral net-worth starts to diminish, I am done for.

To stay cerebrally fit means to be able to use tools. And for number-crunching that means Excel. And since I don’t want to take any chances regarding the amount that I will retain, I signed up to receive Excel Tips daily by email. It is short and I scan the email tip quickly. I am not aiming to become an expert, just want to stay familiar with all that Excel has to offer.

My bicycle riding won’t be anything fancy, but I want to be able to get home.

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