Nothing is more frustrating than doing hours of research and entering data, just to have the information lost. Anyone who has been forced to deal with this scenario knows the feeling of losing one’s breath that takes place when a document or spreadsheet is opened and you realize the hard work is no longer there.

If you are using excel software, there are a few easy steps you can take to make sure your work is not accidently replaced or removed by another person you are sharing the document with. By simply taking the time to lock data in excel, you will be able to ensure your hard work is not going to be lost, saving you from going through an experience similar to mine.

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Hours of work wasted

After the accounting firm I work for had been hired to go over records for the previous five years of a small trucking company, I was assigned to a small team that would go over every penny that had been spent during the time period. We would determine how important each purchase had been to the growth of the company and just how much money had been wasted during the time.

Due to the poor filing methods of the owner and members of management of the company, thousands of receipts I needed to go over were brought to my office in four large boxes and six manila envelopes. Before a determination could be made on how the money had been spent, I would need to go through everything and put the receipts in order according to when the purchase had been made. I was able to find receipts from every year in each of the boxes and envelopes.

Once there was an order to the information, I began making a spreadsheet using the date of the purchase, the amount of money that had been spent, and used another column to rate the relevance of the purchase. While this may seem like just another simple task, keep in mind, I was going over every purchase over the past five years. Even things as simple as purchasing bathroom tissue for the employee bathrooms needed to be accounted for.

I was the newest person at our firm and was considered the low man on the team I had been assigned to. This meant my days would be spent with repetitive tasks such as this. Once I was finished, I would share the information contained in the documents and spreadsheets with other members of my team so they could perform the tasks that were required on their end.

After sending the information I had gone over and entered into my computer, the next person had accidently replaced the entire column of amounts of a purchase with the sales tax of the purchase and if it could be considered a write off on taxes. He had completely made his way through the list of receipts before realizing the mistake that had been made.

Learning from mistakes

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Although I have since made several similar errors of my own and can see how simple mistakes can be made, I wasn’t thrilled when at the time when I had to re-enter all of the information. Yes, someone else had made a mistake that cost me time which could have been spent on other work. But, if I had taken just a few seconds to make sure the information I was entering had been locked, the mistake would have never taken place.

Something so minute and simple may seem unnecessary at the time, but in the long run, these steps are well worth the extra time that is required.