How You Can Save 40+ Hours From Your Life With Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

People often wonder how much time you can actually save using Excel keyboard shortcuts versus using the mouse. We ran a basic experiment and discovered that the average analyst can save 10.79 minutes a day using keyboard shortcuts instead of doing things manually with the mouse! This may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a year, this translates into 47 hours of time fiddling around with the mouse in Excel. Read below to see how we figured out Excel keyboard shortcuts make you 4.5X more productive. Thanks to Joe from Spreadsheets Made Easy for the experiment idea!

I waste 45 hours a year using the mouse in Excel?

You waste 47 hours a year using the mouse in Excel?

Setting Up The Experiment

We are testing how long it takes to complete 5 basic operations in Excel using keyboard shortcuts versus the mouse/trackpad. We think we should also see how long it would take to look up the Excel shortcut on Google but after doing this a few times times, but you have to open up your Internet browser, search for the shortcut, actually find the shortcut, etc. It takes way too much time so let’s just focus on the mouse vs. the keyboard. Note: all tests were done in Excel 2011 for the Mac.

The five operations we will test are:

Create Filter

This is creating the drop-down arrows on a basic data set as shown below.

Create Filter

Fill Formula Down

This operation involves creating a formula on a fly across a range of cells. In this case, we want the empty cells in the third column to be a product of the first column times the second column. We already have the first cell done ($12.99 X 10%), so we need a way to copy that formula down to the remaining cells.

Fill Formula Down

Apply Percentage Format

We have a number like .453 and we want to convert this number to be a percentage format: 45%.

Delete Column

Pretty self-explanatory, we want to delete an entire column from our worksheet.

Paste Special

Let’s bring up the Paste Special menu which you all have seen before:

Excel Paste Special

Experiment Results: Keyboard Shortcuts Rock!

Excel keybaord shortcuts experiment results

In order to figure out how much time Excel keyboard shortcuts would actually save you on the job, we created some basic assumptions about how many times you would use these common Excel operations every day at work and how many days you work per year. The results show that you would be 4.5X more productive, or save 80%+ time using Excel keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse.

Excel keyboard shortcuts time saved from experiment

Increased Productivity Means Money

This was a simple experiment that could be improved with a more controlled environment, but the results are pretty clear. The team over at Exceljet put together a similar analysis looking at the dollar value from improving a skill (such as Excel). If we take our analysis one step further, we can figure out how much money you would save learning Excel keyboard shortcuts. Let’s put in a few assumptions about an entry-level analyst.

  • An entry-level analyst earns let’s say $55,000 USD per year
  • This means the analyst earns $26.44/hour (assuming 260 working days/year at 8 hours/day)
  • You would save $1,237 per year by using Excel keyboard shortcuts

This is just an example for one employee who has an entry-level salary of $55K. Imagine how much more productive a company would be if ALL there employees saved 47 hours per year on doing simple Excel tasks at different levels in the company. Excel keyboard shortcuts are not just for analysts, but also for managers, C-level executives, and anyone who touches a spreadsheet.

Ways To Increase Excel Productivity

Most people who want to learn to use Excel better will search on Google when they come across an issue. This is definitely a great way to learn new Excel formulas and tips, but learning keyboard shortcuts cannot involve Googling a shortcut every time. The few times we tried Googling a shortcut, the average time was 15 seconds!

Learning keyboard shortcuts by looking at a cheat sheet is a slightly better improvement, but still requires you to scan a list to see which shortcut you are looking for. You all know about our Excel keyboard covers, and we believe that showing the shortcuts literally at your fingertips should help you memorize the shortcuts you need the most for your job!

Our online classes with Skillshare should also help you with getting more proficient in Excel, here are the links to the classes again: