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Every week brings new projects, emails, documents, and job lists. Just how much of that is completely different from the job you’ve done? Odds are, not much. A number of our daily tasks are variants on something.
Don’t reinvent the wheel every time you start something fresh. Instead, use templates–as starting point for work that is new, standardized documents with formatting and text. Once you save a separate variant of the template, just add, eliminate, or alter any info for that record, and you are going to have the new job.
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 build, and it’s easy to wonder whether they’re worth the investment. The answer: absolutely. Editing a template takes far less time than formatting something from scratch. It’s the distinction between copying and pasting some text, or retyping it.
That is only one advantage: Using a template means you’re less likely to leave out key information, too. For example, if you want to send freelance writers a contributor arrangement, changing a standard contract template (instead of writing a new contract every time) guarantees you won’t leave out that crucial clause regarding owning the content as soon as you’ve paid for this.
Templates also guarantee consistency. You send regular project updates to clients or investors. Using a template, you know the update will always have the formatting, design, and structure.
How to Produce Great Templates
Not many templates are created equal–and a few things don’t need a template. Here are a couple of tips to follow.
First, templates must be comprehensive. So err on the side of adding rather than too little, it’s more easy to delete info than add it in.
Imagine you are creating a template of your resume. You would want to record details so you’ll have all the info you want to submit an application for any job.
You can always delete notes that are less-important in the future, but you may forget it at the last 25, if it’s not in the template.
Some applications will automatically fill in these factors for you (more on this in a bit). But if you have to fill in the information by yourself, add some text that’s easy and obvious to search for so it is possible to locate text that needs to be changed without a lot of effort.