No two jobs are exactly alike, but every job — from accounting to marketing to managing — has a set of routine tasks. Fortunately for you, the devoted worker, these tasks don’t generally require a great deal of precious brainpower. Once you’ve learned a simple task, you know exactly how to do it the next 100 times your work requires it.
But what about those more complicated common work tasks, like writing emails, keeping an organized schedule and planning ahead on big projects?
The answer is simple: work templates. These are templates you keep handy for yourself so the next time a similar scenario arises, you don’t have to start from scratch. Instead, you can simply tweak your template to match the needs of the particular task at hand.
Email Work Templates
Emailing has become such a large part of the work world today that it deserves its own section in this article. In fact, a 2015 Huffington Post survey revealed that white-collar workers spend about 6.3 hours a day checking email.
Without question, then, you need a few email templates in your life to keep that ever-refilling inbox at bay. Consider how much time you’ll save by using these next few templates in response to three common email scenarios.
This is an email you may not be very familiar with. The concept is simple: Rather than going about your work and waiting to see if your supervisor interrupts you with some unforeseen task or redirection, you instead start your week by sending your supervisor — or, if you’re in charge, your subordinates — your plan of attack for this week’s work.
Taking this simple step does three big things for you:
- It forces you to think through your tasks and prioritize them logically.
- It gets you and your boss — and/or subordinates — on the same page.
- It saves you oodles of time by preventing miscommunications or overlooked tasks.
You can even follow up a “plan for the week” email with a similar one on Friday that recaps everything you accomplished that week.
There are many different scenarios that warrant a “bad news” email. Perhaps you’re turning down a job applicant, telling a client their delivery will be late or asking a vendor to correct an order they messed up on.
The good news is no matter the scenario, your email will follow the same basic structure. So start with a three-paragraph template, and once you’ve written a few of these emails, keep them on hand for similar future scenarios.
Unfortunately for you, the dedicated office worker, you’re going to have to deal with a lot of emails that don’t quite make sense. Clients will ask you questions out of the blue without providing context. Colleagues will bark an abrupt question or command at you. Even your boss may send an unclear message from time to time.
Instead of blurting out the reply you want to send — “What in the world are you trying to say?” — try creating a polite but effective reply based upon the “please clarify” email template.
Other Work Templates
You do lots of work besides sending emails, though, so it’s important to create a few templates based around planning and prioritizing.
Does your work involve projects? The answer is almost inevitably “yes.” Whether you’re working on your next project alone or as part of a team, it can only help to have a well-structured project schedule to keep you on track.
There are many kinds of project schedule templates to choose from — some focusing more on tasks left to complete, others focusing more on timeline or budget factors. It’s simply a matter of finding the template that works best for your project and your team.
The dreaded to-do list. You just can’t get away from it. So don’t! Embrace that list. Attack it in an organized, productive way.
Rather than covering your desk with lots of reminder sticky notes, use a to-do list template. Prioritize your work and home life in whatever way appeals to you — maybe you’re a color-coding kind of person. Maybe you’re more of a categorizer. Or maybe your main care is the nearest approaching deadline.
No matter how you organize them, jotting down your to-dos in one place as they occur to you helps keep your tasks organized and frees up your mind from all that distracting to-do clutter.
Let Templates Help You
Templates exist solely for the purpose of making your life easier, so let them! Put less brainpower toward the routine tasks that would otherwise overrun your work day. That way, when you’re presented with more complex and interesting challenges, you’ll still be chock-full of the energy, motivation and creativity those challenges deserve.