Why You Should Template Everything (And The One Rule For When You Shouldn't)

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If you’re like most people, you’re looking for ways to save time. From taking a shortcut to your destination as suggested by Google Maps or packing lunch for the kids the night before to get out the door faster in the mornings, we’re all looking for time-saving tricks. There’s another technique you might not have thought of — using templates.

Below, we’ll explore some real-life examples of why it’s a good idea to rely on templates for almost everything you do. In fact, there’s only one instance when templates waste time instead of saving it, and you’ll learn an associated rule to help you determine when to use templates, too.

Templates Help You Avoid Repetitive Work

Life is full of repetitive tasks, and templates make it possible to stop doing so many things over and over. Maybe you’re involved in writing interview request letters, asking people to attend an upcoming open day at the place where you work or sending a press release to news outlets about the launch of a new local website you’ve just built.

Those are all examples of types of correspondence that usually involve sending similar blocks of texts to recipients and only changing a few things, such as a company name and the designated recipient. People who use templates regularly say they allow them to take care of most of the kinds of tasks explained above while giving them more free time to handle other responsibilities.

Templates Prevent Formatting Mistakes

Maybe you’re in the market for a new job and always use specific font families, colors and sizes so all the resumes you send have a unified look. It’s important to update your resume regularly so it reflects the most recent representation of your skills and assets.

Even if you’re in the habit of making those updates several times per year, you might eventually forget a minor detail that detracts from overall job prospects.

You can load pre-formatted documents in popular programs, including Microsoft Word. By using such an application, it’s easy to build and fill in templates for documents including company letterheads, business recommendations and even resume templates.

Although Microsoft Word offers some built-in templates, it’s best to go beyond the boundaries of what’s offered there. That way, you can customize a resume template geared toward the things you want to highlight.

A timeline of experience resume template is a great choice if you have been in the workforce for a significant amount of time. Alternatively, a demonstrative project-based resume template works well if you have designed or managed many projects, yet the prospective employer requests that applicants stick to a one-page format for their resumes.

Templates Remind You to Include Crucial Details

If you’re under a lot of pressure to write a letter that requests something from others, you may get so caught up with trying to keep your tone warm and come across in a genuine way that you forget to mention crucial details.

How embarrassing and ineffective would it be if you write a letter to ask people to give support for an upcoming mission trip and forget to discuss how much money you need or what you’ll be using the funds for?

Your template might include bracketed text that cues you to make sure certain bits of information are there before you print or save the document. You could put reminders in your template about bringing up how long you’ll be gone on the trip and the ways people can donate to your cause.

The One Rule for Not Using a Template

Now we’ve reached the point where you’ll discover the only time when you shouldn’t use a template.

If would take more time to fill out the template than to just jot down a note or create a document from scratch, don’t rely on a template. Keeping this rule in mind should help you steer clear of unnecessary template dependency, so it doesn’t become like other things that kill productivity, like socializing with colleagues too much or not having defined priorities.

Thanks to the examples and pointers above, you’re well equipped to start using templates in your life for the first time or explore new ways to try templates for ongoing duties. The more you put the suggestions into practice, the more naturally they’ll fit into your workflow.

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