Just the mere mention of a spreadsheet can make some people go into a hypnotic trance... the eyes start to feel heavier and heavier and then...can I hear snoring? Hey wake up! Excel isn't as bad as you think, allow me to enlighten you.

This twenty five year old software isn't just an application that nerds dream about. Excel is the software that has transformed businesses throughout the world. Although, it is easy to see why many associate it with business, this tool is often underestimated and can be a valuable instrument for managing everyday life.

For the 'Average Joe', being neat and tidy is not a strong point. How often have we rummaged through desks and drawers to find that missing scribbled down phone number or utility bill? The thought of having 'a place for everything and everything in its place' is a nice idea but it doesn't really help when the bedroom looks like the aftermath of an earthquake.

Don't panic, help is at hand and it isn't in the form of expensive counselling or self-help gurus who promise to turn you into Mr or Mrs Filofax overnight. The answer to your prayers is probably staring at you right now in the form of a computer screen.

So here goes...promise yourself that you are going to open up your mind to the world of Excel. It has probably been sitting on your computer for years. Now is the time to blow off those cobwebs and take control of your life.

This software comes packed with a myriad of features to organise your lifestyle. Because there are so many, it would be impossible to cover each and every one in this article. However, when looking for ways to make life that little bit easier, you will be pleased to know that Excel is extremely simple to operate and waiting to help you manage your time effectively.

The wife's clothes - although you love her to pieces, your patience is pushed to the limit when it takes her three hours to pick out something suitable for that dinner booked at 8pm when it is now 7.45pm. By organizing her wardrobe into coloured sections (using sticky labels), Excel will quickly allow her to match the chart in her wardrobe to a similar one online. She could even add photo's of her clothing to make identifying her outfits even easier. Never again will you both be late for that all important function. Your 'better half' will be ready in a jiffy after quickly browsing through her wardrobe in Excel and walking straight over to slip on that sexy number.

Alternatively, open a new document and create four columns: item description, item location, comments about the item such as "Sunday best" and care instructions. Perfect when you want to save time looking for that wash setting. To find an item of clothing in your spreadsheet, press Ctrl F and, under 'Find What', enter a keyword. By clicking 'Find Next', Excel will highlight every section containing that keyword until you locate the item you are looking for. Much easier than a frantic rummage!

Organising your finances - great for the self employed, especially those who deal with a lot of invoices. An Excel spreadsheet will give you piece of mind that all of your accounts are logged and traceable so as you know exactly who has received what and when. You can also keep an eye on customers who might need a visit from the heavies!

Family matters - how often have you forgotten Auntie Rita's birthday or even worse your wife's big day? Never again will you feel the wrath of the rolling pin as you struggle to find excuses for not sending your beloved a card. Using a straightforward spreadsheet in Excel, it is easy to chronicle a list of those 'cannot forget' present giving occasions. All you need to do is add a column for names, another for the occasion and a third for the date. Excel will then give you the freedom to choose how you wish to view the data. For example, Aunty Rita, birthday, September.

The above are just a trio of ways that Excel can make a massive difference to your life. Its uses are almost limitless especially if you have a lot of data which needs to be manipulated. Don't be fooled by the word 'data' either, this does not necessarily have to mean numbers, it can be anything.

Let's run through a basic task and set up a daily schedule:

For now, we will work with Excel 2007 as the 2009 version is still waiting to catch on.

1. You should have a fresh new document staring back at you. What you should see is a grid of empty cells. These cells are your blank canvas and are arranged in columns and rows. The rows are numbered down the left hand side and the columns are lettered across the top. We are going to create a two-celled table with a list of times on the left hand side and tasks listed on the right.

2. You need to click on cell A1 (which is literally column A, row 1). Type in the word 'times'. Hit the Tab key (or left click your mouse) to go into the next cell which is B1. Type in the word 'tasks'.

3. Fill out your list of times on the left hand side. This can be a very drawn out process especially if you want to list in half hour intervals. Even more so if you want to do this for every single day of the week or month. Luckily, Excel can help.

4. Go to cell A2 which should be directly below the 'times' heading. Key in '9:00.' Underneath this enter '9.30.' Highlight these two cells and then click on the format button in the cells menu (located near the top right hand section of the toolbar). Click on the numbers tab and you will be able to select 'time' as the category for the column. You might also like to play around with some other format options - in fact, go wild! You won't make any mistakes which cannot be undone (by pressing Ctrl+Z).

5. If Cells A2 and A3 are not already highlighted, highlight them and drag down the cross in the bottom right hand corner of Cell A3 until Excel has automatically added in all of your half hourly time intervals.

6. Now all you need to do is fill in column B with the tasks that correspond to your times and hey presto! You have created your first Excel schedule.

If you think your spreadsheet looks a bit sparse, you could jazz it up by adding some more columns and more information. There is no need to feel out of your depth with Excel as the text formatting toolbar works in exactly the same manner as any other Microsoft Office program such as Word. You can also download a customisable template from Microsoft by clicking 'Templates from Microsoft.com' in the templates pane. Then type schedule in the search box on the left hand side of Microsoft's website.

Remember... It's those who plan ahead who Excel in life...