Using Templates Increases Productivity

As a small business owner, I have many repetitive projects – things that happen over and over again for a given set of clients: formatting a client’s email newsletter; adding it to the blog section of their website; posting it to LinkedIn.

When I first started out, it was simple and I could remember all the steps. But over time, as my client list has grown and many of them began having unique requests, it became difficult to keep track of what was required.

If you’ve never heard of a “template” before, it’s simply a pre-created task list – a checklist – that you can save and use over and over. Some of the platforms that I have used to create these templates are Trello, Notion, or even Google’s Keep Notes, but the concept is one you can apply regardless of platform.

Templates are quite handy and I have dozens of them. Each time the project rolls around again, I simply open the appropriate template and get started.

Here are some key points to remember when using templates: Be thorough. When you’re creating your template, keep asking yourself “and then what happens” so that you don’t forget any steps in the project. If you find a missing step while working with your template, be sure to make an update to the “master template” for future use.

Think small. It’s important to break the task down into small bite-size pieces that can be checked off one at a time. That way if you have to stop in the middle of your work or are waiting for the client, it’s easy to see where the project stands.

Assign due dates. I do this right after opening the template by starting with the date the final project is due and working backward to pace my work. One of the key benefits of using templates is that you end up with a uniform work product every time, without skipping steps or having to ask your client to repeat things. They make my work easier and clients happier!

Bonus prize.  If you take the time to create templates for your business, they can also serve as standing operating procedures (SOPs) for your business when you get to the point that you want to hire a virtual assistant or a new employee for your company.  You will already have a very good outline of many of your procedures with which you can train someone to take over your work!

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