There comes a time when every financial modeler must pull away from the cells, the spreadsheets, the workbooks, and regain perspective. Formulas becoming four lines long, circular references popping up, and morale falling faster than CTRL-Z can be hit.  It’s time for your moment of CTRL-Zen.

Do the Walk Away

When the stress hits you to a point where anxiety creeps in and frustration builds, it’s time for the walk away.  This is very simple.  Pull your hands off the keyboard, grab the top of the desk, stand up, turn and walk away for at least 10 minutes.  Go get a coffee or if it’s very late there is nothing wrong with a longer break to have a drink with a friend.  Just don’t turn it into models and bottles, as we never advise modeling under the influence.  You will come back with a fresh mind to look at the problem and attack it in new ways that you might never have thought of.

Think While Formatting

In an earlier blog post, we committed modeling cardinal sin by suggesting that you don’t use keyboard shortcuts for everything. One of the things we like to do with a mouse is formatting the model.  There is actually a specific reason for this.  Clicking through formatting the model is relatively mindless, which allows us to think about the structure and results of each section as we go through it. It’s a perfect time to review and revisit sections that may have caused problems or are not exactly as wanted.

This is Not Heart Surgery

Some people actually perform heart surgery…we are not those people.  While we put every effort, every intelligent design, and every last bit of ingenuity into modeling, we can adapt a model to a demanding timeframe, by either making assumptions or taking a more generalist approach.  Often, a modeler has underestimated the time that it takes to execute the precision of their desired analysis, but has forgotten that the requested analysis isn’t necessarily as specific as they thought.  If a particular path is taking too long, revisit the goal and adapt the model.