Getting Over Excel Phobia

When I was in high school, I took a statistics class that, to this day, has left me in abject terror whenever I am faced with anything related to statistics.

Our teacher decided that since we were an “honors” class, the best way for us to learn statistics was to find the errors in a statistics book. It didn’t work, for obvious reasons. If you don’t know what you are supposed to be looking at, how can you tell if it’s wrong?

That teacher left the school before the end of the semester to go play piano in a southern state (my high school was on Long Island, in New York, and not known for temperate winters).

Because of that statistics nightmare, I never learned statistics and I believed that I could never learn it. Simply seeing a statistical symbol on a page short-circuited my brain.

I tell this story to explain how my phobia about statistics led to a phobia about Excel- because Excel uses statistical symbols and formulas.

Every time a client has suggested that an Excel worksheet would be the easiest way to manage the data in question, I’ve found some other more laborious workaround.

A former colleague once showed me that I could use an Excel spreadsheet to alphabetize names and prioritize data. In fact, she set up the worksheet, showed me how to do it, and in showing me, did it for me- bless her heart.

Even though I now knew it could be helpful in certain situations, I never learned to use Excel on my own.

I managed quite nicely without any need for Excel until last week. A Government Services Administration (GSA) auditor asked me to provide Excel spreadsheets that listed my company’s total annual sales and annual sales under our GSA contract for the past year.

In an absolute panic, I turned to the internet. I read articles and watched YouTube tutorials. They gave me the confidence to start a worksheet, title the columns and put text or numbers into them. I even managed to get a subtotal indicator. However, when I pushed the Auto Sum button, nothing happened.

I sent my spreadsheet out to various friends and colleagues, but no one was able to work with it. One colleague (who has worked with me for over 15 years) suggested that it might be easier if I simply added up the numbers rather than trying to get a total with Excel.

When I voiced my frustration to my daughter, her first question was why hadn’t I asked her to begin with? I knew that she had taken many computer-related classes on her job. It just hadn’t occurred to me that any of those classes concerned Excel.

My daughter told me that she worked with Excel, she kept her budget in Excel, and she would be able to help me. So, I sent her the worksheet -and she couldn’t do anything with it either.

However, she understood WHY the worksheet wasn’t responsive. It had not been set up properly.

Over 1.5 hours, she patiently walked me through how to really set up each column, what I else I could do with the columns, and how to get the totals. I can’t tell you how appreciative and relieved I was! Her matter of fact approach to teaching me how to use Excel soothed any remaining fear I had.

I used Excel with confidence the very next day to alphabetize terms for a glossary. Boy did that make my task easier!

Will I remember everything she showed me? Probably not, because I’m not likely to be using Excel very much in the near future.

The audit situation motivated me to face my phobia, so I can’t claim to have chosen to “look my fear in the face,” as Mrs. Roosevelt suggests.

Nonetheless, I now know that I no longer need to be frightened of Excel and that it can and will be a helpful tool.

Using Occam’s Razor At Home

I hate the Woody Allen quote: “Those who can’t do, teach,” because that is definitely a myth. Yet unfortunately, I occasionally find that I ignore the principles that I know and teach others to follow!

Take, for instance, Occam’s razor. It is commonly understood that this principle means that if there are two or more explanations for an occurrence, the simpler one is usually best.

This “law of briefness” is more directly translated from William of Ockham’s Latin to mean: “More things should not be used than are necessary.”

“Razor” is used as a metaphor, indicating that unnecessary things (like hair that is too long) should be shaved off.

So, let’s look at how Occam’s razor applies in real life. More specifically, let’s consider how I could have applied Occam’s razor in my own life. Because, if I had, I would have avoided a lot of time, stress and expense.

I have an elderly cat who has various ailments, some of which are quite serious. Recently my veterinarian told me that my cat needed to be on a special diet with low phosphorus. She gave me a link to a website that listed literally hundreds of food products that would serve that need. Unfortunately, there were very few meat-flavored foods.

This was problematic because, through trial and error, I’ve discovered that meat flavored food is the only one that masks the taste of my cat’s medicines. He simply won’t eat food flavored with fish or fowl.

I highlighted the meat-flavored foods on the first two pages of the list and began the long laborious process of trying to locate them. I spent a lot of time strolling the aisles in various pet food stores, finding only two foods on the list. This was great, because I could purchase only one or two cans for my cat to try.

My cat wouldn’t eat them.

In a panic, to ensure he got his medicine, I would throw away the rejected food and give him the food he had been eating for the past few years. This became the pattern whenever he rejected new food.

Some local pet stores kindly agreed to special order cases of the food I needed, and then sell me individual cans.

My cat wouldn’t eat them.

I went to the web, trying to locate a vendor who: (1) had the food I needed and (2) would sell individual cans. There were very few, but I was able to order food from two vendors.

My cat wouldn’t eat them.

I went further down the list of suggested foods and began the process of searching them out. One food seemed promising, because it sounded similar to the food he had been eating. However, I had to purchase a case.

My cat wouldn’t eat it.

Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place. I called the maker of the food my cat had been eating to find out how much phosphorous it contained. The answer was.5%, which was actually lower than any of the foods on the list from which I had been working!

The bottom line: the food my cat had been eating was exactly the food he needed.

I will be taking all of the other cans (approximately two cases worth) to our local humane society so that someone can benefit from this unnecessary time and trouble.

If only I had applied Occam’s razor and immediately sought the simplest solution. Of the two alternatives: an unknown food and a known food, the known food (if it contained the necessary amount of phosphorous) would have been the better choice.

Benefits of Using a Waste Management Business

Waste is being generated everywhere we look from household to industrial, medical to hazardous and chemical; our planet is becoming consumed by waste and there is no hiding from it. It is all too easy to ignore this growing problem of increasing waste plaguing our world and taking thousands of years to decompose – if at all.

No longer can we turn a blind eye to the suffering of our land, sea and air as well as global warming – say hello to the birth of the waste management industry, here to save the day.

Whilst waste matter isn’t the nicest of discussion points, it is a vitally important topic which needs to be addressed in order to protect our environment from further hazardous and chemical substances. A world without frequent and proper waste disposal would be a world that horror movies are made from; deadly mountains of toxic trash slowly killing all life forms and destroying our environment once and for all.

I’m sure that if you are reading this, you feel confident in your own life that you ‘do your part’ by recycling when possible and taking your bins out on rubbish day. Small and large businesses are producing a significantly higher amount of waste but may still feel satisfied that they are disposing of waste correctly by passing it on to an outside waste management provider and wiping their hands clean.

It is essential that you – as a business – not only hire a professional waste service to dispose of your waste but that you trust your waste management company and know with utmost certainty that your waste is being transported and destroyed legally and safely. By choosing a quality waste transport and disposal company, you can rest assured knowing that you are getting more for your money, first-class customer service and peace of mind that your waste is being disposed of correctly.

Whether you are a small or large business, hiring a specialised waste collection company will make your life easier and provide a tonne of advantages. Here we look at some of the central benefits of expert waste collection and waste removal.

• Get your waste management service to do the dirty work; you save time and money!

Time is of the essence and when you’re trying to run a successful business, dealing with waste matters can eat up a lot of time, resources and money. By hiring a professional waste management team, you can save your time, resources (and often money) by focussing on your business and letting the expert waste staff deal with your waste discreetly and efficiently.

• Health & safety is paramount in the workplace; safeguard your employees and yourself.

It is your responsibility to make sure your staff have a safe environment to work in. You can maintain the health and safety of your workforce by employing a dedicated waste management service who will ensure that your hazardous or chemical waste is professionally removed regularly to reduce the risk of health issues.

• You are reducing your carbon footprint and making huge difference to the future of our planet.

By selecting an environmentally friendly waste management company you can be confident that any waste which can be recycled or reused will be. When your business starts working together with a reputable waste management service, you can expect your profits and productivity to increase significantly as sustainability is highly regarded and you can be proud to be environmentally conscious.

• Managing your waste professionally is win-win in the public eye.

Once you establish a solid relationship with your waste management company, you can advertise the fact that you are actively recycling, reusing and disposing of your waste in an environmentally mindful way. This will do wonders for your company’s image as well as promoting proper waste management to your clients and customers.

• Greener, cleaner living; it’s a way of life.

Maintaining your waste free work environment will become easy once your waste management team regularly visit. A clean work place is far more inviting to potential clients and your employees will quickly reap the benefits of a greener workplace. By having a dedicated waste management company on hand to help you eliminate waste from your business, you and your employees will soon realise the health benefits as well as the time and money savings it delivers.

• More than just a waste management service; on-site training and team knowledge building.

A great waste management company will go one step further and help your business to become fully educated in waste management. A good company will offer you specialised Health & Safety Training, Chemical Safety Training, Environmental Compliance Training and more. If you’re looking for ways to decrease waste across your company or you’re struggling to meet budgets with your recycling and waste, an effective waste management team of professionals will be more than happy to help you.

By choosing an honest, reliable and customer focussed waste management company you will certainly be saving money, time and resources as well as have the opportunity to enjoy a complete service tailored to your business’ particular needs.