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Each week brings documents, emails, new jobs, and job lists. How much of this is completely different from the work you have done before? Odds are, maybe not much. A number of our tasks are variants on something we’ve done countless times before.
Don’t reinvent the wheel every time you start something fresh. Instead, use templates–standardized files with formatting and text as starting point. As soon as you save another version of the template, just add, remove, or change any data for that document, and you’ll have the new job done in a fraction of the time.
Templates work everywhere: in word processors, spreadsheets, project management apps, survey programs, and also email. Here is how to generate documents from a template — and how to use templates in your favorite programs –so it’s possible to get your common tasks faster.
Templates take time to build, and it’s easy to wonder whether they’re worth the investment. The short answer: absolutely. Editing a template takes far less time than formatting some thing. It is the difference 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 info, too. For instance, if you need to send freelance writers a contributor agreement, modifying a standard contract template (instead of composing a new contract every time) ensures you won’t leave out that crucial clause regarding owning the content as soon as you’ve paid for this.
Templates additionally guarantee consistency. You send regular job updates to investors or customers. Using a template, you know the update will have the formatting, design, and general arrangement.
How to Produce Fantastic Templates
Not all templates are created equal–and a few things don’t need a template. Here are a couple of guidelines to follow.
First, templates should be comprehensive. It’s more easy to delete information than add it in, so err on the side of including too instead of too little.
Imagine you are developing a template of your own resume. You’d want to record in-depth facts about your responsibilities and achievements, and that means you are going to have all the info you need to submit an application for any job.
You always have the option to delete notes later on, but you might forget it in the final 25, when it’s not from the template.
Some applications will automatically fill in all these variables for you (more on that in a bit). But if you have to fill in the data by yourself, add some text that’s easy and obvious to look for so it is possible to locate text that needs to be altered without much effort.