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Each week brings files, emails, new projects, and task lists. Just how much of that is different from the work you’ve done? Odds are, maybe not much. Many of our tasks are variations on something we have done hundreds of times before.
Do not reinvent the wheel every time you start something fresh. Instead, use templates–as starting point standardized files with formatting and text. Once you save a version of the template add, remove, or change any info for that unique record, and you’ll have the new work.
Templates work anywhere: in word processors, spreadsheets, project management programs, survey programs, and email. Here’s how to use templates and to create documents from a template–so you can get your ordinary tasks done faster.
Programs take the time to construct, and it’s easy to wonder whether they’re worth the investment. The answer: absolutely. Editing a template requires much less time than formatting something. It is the difference between copying and pasting some text, or retyping it.
That’s not the only advantage: Using a template means you’re less likely to leave out crucial information, too. For example, if you need to send freelance authors a contributor arrangement, modifying a standard contract template (rather than composing a new contract every time) guarantees you won’t leave out the crucial clause about owning the material as soon as you’ve paid for it.
Templates additionally guarantee consistency. You send investors or clients regular project updates. With a template, you understand the upgrade will always have the formatting, design, and structure.
How to Produce Great Templates
Not many templates are created equal–and a few things do not need a template. Here are a couple of guidelines to follow.
First, templates should be comprehensive. It is simpler to delete information than add it in, so err on the side of adding rather than too small.
Imagine you’re developing a template of your own resume. You’d want to record facts and that means you are going to have.
You can delete less-important notes on, but if it’s not in the template you might forget it.
Some tools will automatically fill in these variables for you (more on this in a bit). But should you have to fill in the information on your own, add some text that is obvious and easy to search for so you can find text that has to be altered without much effort.