My synagogue is knee deep in our annual budgeting process. For some people, that might cue a sense of peril and dread, but I actually find budgeting uplifting and empowering! Even better, I got to employ some handy spreadsheet magic to make the process as smooth as possible. If budgeting and spreadsheets make you feel queasy or short of breath, take a deep breath! Think about your ribcage expanding and contracting. Later, we’ll apply that metaphor to Google Sheets!
This is the first time that I’ve been responsible for coordinating the budgeting process from start to finish, which is a combination of managing PEOPLE, INFORMATION, and DECISIONS. Whoooo-eee!
Like most organizations, we lay out our budget according to different categories and subcategories and then throughout the year, we assign expenses to those categories so that we can compare our “Budget” to our “Actuals.” The problem (?) is that we have SO. VERY. MANY. CATEGORIES. Too many? Well, we’re not going to have that debate here. Let’s just say, we have an abundance! The category detail is helpful sometimes, but it’s not so helpful when we need to see the bird’s eye view.
If only there was a simple way to hide rows and then reveal them with the click of a button! As a matter of fact…. (I really set myself up for this one!) THERE IS!
Introducing… the Row Group function!
Some readers may be familiar with the “hide” rows function (highlight what you want to temporarily hide, right click, select “hide”). Your rows will collapse but they will not show that miraculous little plus sign on the left of your screen.
Hide and seek
You may be wondering, “When should I HIDE rows versus when should I GROUP rows?” What’s that? You’re not? Well, good thing blogging is basically a conversation with myself anyway 😉 Here are some factors you might want to keep in mind as you fiddle around with these tools.
- Hierarcheology: The Group function is ideal for showing hierarchies of data, for example, summarizing months into quarters, and quarters into years. Or summarizing categories like “snacks” into “food” and “food” into “supplies.” You wouldn’t want to simply “hide” the spreadsheet rows because that would also hide the larger organizing mechanism and you’d have to ~dig~ around for it (#PunIntended)
- One click pony: The Group function is good at showing you which rows are collapsed at any given time and offers you a one click button to expand them.
- Now you see me, now you don’t: With a traditional “hide” function, once you unhide, it’s impossible to go back to the “hidden” state without going back and re-selecting the rows again (which might be a pain!). With the Group function, you can identify a group of rows and expand/collapse as often as you need to.
During my teenage years, I learned the then-astounding fact that stress can restrict the flow of energy and information between my brain and my body. It could make me forget (or not have access to) information that I otherwise knew on an exam. Yikes! I was encouraged to sit with my spine straight and make sure to breathe. That fact has stayed with me and I try to remember it in stressful situations.
During Salesforce.org Open Source Community Sprint conferences, we have volunteers lead mindfulness exercises every morning. Despite the story above, mindfulness has never exactly been my cup of tea, but I know that it has done wonders for so many people.
These next sentences will reveal how truly nerd-tastic I have become, but during last week’s meditation time, I found myself thinking about meditation/breathing like expanding/collapsing the rows of a spreadsheet so that you can focus on what is most important and come back to the rest when you have more time. Ah, now THAT is a noble challenge for the week ahead!
Do you have a case of the Mondays? Here’s a breathing exercise you can try
One thought on “expand, contract”
Another great post. But you’ve got a typo: “sit with my spine straight and make sure to breath”
Michael Kolodner Director of Information Systems firstname.lastname@example.org