The Power of a Template

By Athenée MastrangeloAthenee 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 each week.   So for each of those emails, she typed up 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 AKA Signature, personalize it and hit Send.  No time was wasted 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 & Minutes
  • Requesting a meeting
  • Office Memo
  • Confirming receipt of someone’s resume -or- Replying that the position is already filled
  • Weekly Status Report
  • 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 them a great holiday season?  Rather than retyping it over and over again, 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 so much you can use it 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) Informing them of their next step
  • Are you in sales?  Have an introduction letter with important information and links to your website
  • Do you have to reply to customer complaints?  Use a template, now 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 and you’re ready to go
  • Spreadsheets are also a great way for using templates, for example: expense reports, travel expenses, proposals, invoices and so much more.

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

Presentation Templates: If you prepare presentations for your company, 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 there is more than one person creating presentations for a company, having templates is a must for keeping your company’s 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 ‘recieve’ 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 in ‘Executive Assistant to the General Manager of This Company’.  Rather then typing that same phrase repeatedly, have ‘EXGM’ replaced with ‘Executive Assistant to the General Manager of This Company’ – that’s 4 key strokes 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!

Word of caution:  When creating these replacement letters in AutoText, make sure they are not existing words or abbreviations – it can get quite messy!

Your Next Action! Over the next few days and weeks pay attention to the things you frequently type or send out.  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 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 Athenée at www.ActionChaos.com or 407-435-2170.