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Every week brings documents, emails, new jobs, and task lists. How much of that is totally different from the work you have done? Odds are, maybe not much. Many of our tasks are variants on something.
Don’t reinvent the wheel each time you start something new. Instead, use templates–standardized files with formatting and text as starting point for new work. Once you save a variant of the template add, eliminate, or alter any data for that document, and you’ll have the new job completed in a fraction of the time.
Templates work anywhere: in word processors, spreadsheets, project management programs, survey programs, and email. Here’s the way to automatically generate documents from a template — and how to use templates in your favorite programs –so it’s possible to get your common tasks quicker.
Templates take the 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 something. It’s the difference between retyping it, or copying and pasting some text.
That’s not the only advantage: Using a template means you’re not as likely to leave out key info, also. For example, if you need to send freelance authors a contributor arrangement, modifying a standard contract template (rather than composing a new contract each time) guarantees you won’t leave out that crucial clause about owning the material once you’ve paid for it.
Templates also guarantee consistency. Perhaps you send regular job updates. Using a template, you know the update will have the exact same formatting, layout, and general structure.
How to Produce Fantastic Templates
Not all templates are created equal–and a few things do not need a template. Here are a couple of tips to follow.
First, templates should be comprehensive. It is easier to delete info than add it in, so err on the side of adding instead of too little.
Imagine you’re developing a template of your own resume. You would want to list in-depth details about your responsibilities and accomplishments, and that means you’ll have all the info you want to apply for almost any job.
You always have the option to delete notes that are less-important on, but you might forget it at the final 25, if it is not from the template.
Some tools will automatically fill in all these factors for you (more on that in a bit). But if you have to fill in the data by yourself, include some text that is obvious and simple to look for so you can locate text that has to be altered without much work.