Order of errand operations

As a parent of 2 young children, I can safely say that nothing is more luxurious than eating lunch by myself, outside on a beautiful day. If you’re a parent you already understand. If you aren’t, enjoy your freedom :).

But it wasn’t all fun and games for me today, I had a laundry list of errands to run. And if I wasn’t careful and highly efficient with my time, that luxurious lunch would end up biting me in the rear end. For example, if I went to Costco first, the groceries would be sitting in a hot car for too long. The strawberries and salmon probably wouldn’t appreciate that none too much.

Fortunately, I was able to optimize my time by dropping off my wife first, getting the car inspected, and then stopping by Target to drop off an old car seat. When I saw a Shake Shack in the Target shopping center, I immediately shifted gears from my original plan and proceeded to indulge in my luxurious, solitary lunch.

The point is, I knew what had to get done, and I knew my constraints (e.g. time, location, temperature requirements for the groceries, etc), and was able to work within that and ensure the correct order of errand operations for the day. Mission accomplished!

Now, in math there is also an order of operations, famously known as PEMDAS (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction). Fortunately, Excel adopted this standard instead of reinventing the wheel.

The most important element here in Excel is the parentheses, because they have the power to FORCE certain calculations to occur before others within formulas.

For me, my wife was a parentheses, and while that sounds absolutely terrible, I mean it in the most positive way possible. If I did not drive her first she would be late for her meeting, so I put her in parentheses and jumped her to the top of the errand list :).

One quick Excel point – only use parentheses in your formula if they are actually necessary. If your formula calculates correctly without them, leave them out. Too many parentheses will still work inside a formula, but they will add clutter and create unnecessary confusion.

May your errands, both in and outside of the spreadsheet, be smooth and efficient, leveraging the best possible order of operations.

#metime #errands #parentluxuries #parentwisdom #PEMDAS #ordermatters #excelwell #sharetheexcellove

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