The power of a template

This is a guest article by Athenée Mastrangelo.

Does it feel like you’re always busy typing up letters and emails? Does it sometimes feel like you’re sending out the same emails? If you answered “Yes,” what do you do? Do you retype the entire email over and over again, or do you go back in your Sent folder and look for that email you sent out a few weeks ago so you can copy and paste the content? Why not simplify the process with a template?

Why reinvent the wheel when you can have your own library of frequently used items? Templates are not just for contracts; you can use them for emails, spreadsheets, to-do lists, and just about everything. Most word processors already have templates in place for you to use. You can use theirs or create your own from scratch—either way you’ll save a ton of time in the end. Let’s look at a few different ways of using templates.

Email templates

Find yourself responding to the same emails over and over again? Being secretary/treasurer of her network group, Jessica has to send out weekly emails, and most of those emails contain the same message. So she typed the message and saved it as a Signature in her Mac Mail. Each week when it’s time to send out these emails, all she has to do is pick out the right message (Signature), personalize it and hit Send. She wastes no time creating a message, typing it all out and making sure it has no typos.

If you don’t have the Signature option with your email service you can either store your templates in the Draft folder or you can create a folder named Templates. All you have to do is copy and paste the message, personalize and hit Send.

You can use email templates for basically anything. Here are just a few examples:

  • Meeting agendas and minutes.
  • Requesting a meeting.
  • Office memos.
  • Confirming receipt of someone’s resume or replying that the position is already filled.
  • Weekly status reports.
  • Driving directions to your business.

You can also use your email Signature to promote events or specials; once the promotion is over just remove it from your Signature. Want to wish people a great holiday season? Rather than retyping that over and over, just add it to your Signature!

Document templates

It’s common for most of us to use templates for contracts or forms, but get creative—there’s much you can use a template for. Some examples:

  • If you work in the HR department, set up templates for responding to applications to let them know (1) They are hired, (2) The position is closed, (3)Their next step.
  • If you’re in sales, have an introduction letter with important information and links to your website.
  • If you reply to customer complaints, use a template and all you have to do is personalize it.
  • If you’re applying for a new career, use a template for your cover letter and resume; all you have to do is go in and personalize them.
  • If you work with spreadsheets, you can use templates for expense reports, travel expenses, proposals, invoices and much more.

To make sure you can easily find your templates; store them in a folder called Templates. Tip: Always have a backup folder with all your templates, just in case you mistakenly use and changed one from the Templates folder.

Presentation templates

If you prepare presentations for your organization, having templates will not only save you time, but more importantly will keep your presentations consistent and professional! Make sure you:

  • Keep your logo and text positioning in the same location.
  • Use the same colors, font, and sizes if and where possible. (It looks less cluttered and is much easier on the eyes for your participants.)

If more than one person creates presentations for the organization, having templates is a must for keeping your branding consistent.

AutoText—another great tool!

What is AutoText, you ask? It’s a tool inside your word processor or email service that automatically replaces your text as soon as you type it in. It’s frequently used to replace typical typos, for example “receive” will automatically be replaced with “receive.” Most of these tools let you add your own set of AutoText words and phrases.

Here are just a few ways you can use this tool to save you time:

  • Let’s say you’re always typing “Executive Assistant to the General Manager of This Company.” Rather than typing that same phrase repeatedly, have “EXGM” replaced with “Executive Assistant to the General Manager of This Company”—that’s 4 keystrokes instead of 60!
  • What about names with symbols? Most AutoText tools will replace the letters “TM” with “™” But if yours doesn’t you can instruct it to do so. Plus you can do it with your company name—just have “YCN” replaced with “Your Company Name™.”You can do the same with entire paragraphs—let AutoText do the work for you!

Caution: When creating these replacement letters in AutoText, make sure they are not existing words or abbreviations.

Your next action!

Over the next few days and weeks pay attention to the things you frequently type or send. Then take some time to set up your own set of templates. Remember, you can always go online to find some great pre-created templates. Download them, personalize them to your needs and you’re good to go!

Athenée Mastrangelo Athenée Mastrangelo helps busy professionals use technology to stay organized, productive and connected. She is available for workshops, online training and individual consultations. Clients include Marriott, United Colors of Benetton, Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort, business owners, executives and entrepreneurs.  Connect with her at www.ActionChaos.com or 407-435-2170.

What templates and AutoText entries you have created?

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