• Melanie Koerperich

How to Use Templates and Checklists to Better Manage Your Time

Time management, it’s a struggle.  We are all busy and have so much to get done in a single day that sometimes it seems like too much.  Instead of cutting tasks out of your day due to a lack of time, why not find ways to keep yourself on track and make yourself more efficient so that you can fit everything in?

Checklists are one of the best resources that you can use to keep yourself on task throughout the day.   They work best if you set them up with reminders.  There are plenty of extensions available for your web browser that allows you to automate, set reminders for, and rate the items on your to-do list by priority.  My favorite is TickTick for Chrome.  Most of the options out there have a free version that has limited access to the capabilities of the full version.  Full versions average around $30 a year.

The trick with finding the right checklist is to prioritize the features that are more likely to keep you on track.

  1. Is it having an unlimited number of categories for your to-do lists (i.e., personal, business, categorized by project, )?

  2. Is it having enough reminders that the task does not get lost in an overwhelming list?

  3. Do you want a to-do list that’s integrated on both your phone and computer?

  4. Do you want the list to sync to your outlook or google calendar?

These are all features that come free with one application or another.  Some are more geared toward business and project management, allowing collaborators to work off the same to-do list.  I suggest checking out this article in The Guardian that shows you the layout and features of different to-do list tracking apps for more insight on the features available with each app.

Now that we’ve discussed keeping yourself on track let’s take a look at time management from the perspective of simply making better use of your time.  If you are sending out the same email with basically the same content often is it really an efficient use of your time to write out the same email over and over? Probably not.  This is exactly what canned responses and templates are for.  Canned responses are a Gmail function and templates are a function of Outlook.  These features are perfect for emails that contain the same content or the same content with very little personalization or changes in the body of the email.

A good example would be the following.  You are selling coffee beans.  Every time someone makes an inquiry regarding pricing you personally send an email in response.  The email may vary depending on if they have a discount through their company or they are affiliated with some other discount or rewards program you offer but the email outline will basically stay the same.  There may be a few tweaks here and there depending on their ultimate pricing or circumstances but your message should be pretty uniform.

Hi XXX,

Thank you for your inquiry!  We look forward to the opportunity to earn your business.

As far as pricing goes for X beans, your pricing structure would be the following:

1lb bag – $ XX.XX

2lb bag – $ XX.XX

3lb bag – $ XX.XX

Thanks again for your inquiry and we look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions in the meantime please don’t hesitate to call or email.

Kind Regards,

Your Name

Your Position

Phone #

Pretty straightforward.  The Xs represent the fields you will customize in each email. All you have to do is save the email as a template or canned response.  Then instead of taking two to three minutes each time to compose the same email and proofread to make sure there are no typo’s etc.  You’ve spent the two to three minutes on prep time for one email and now each time you send it you’ll spend about 30 seconds preparing it.

The same principle applies to letters, contracts, and other information you distribute on a large scale. Prepare the document once using a placeholder of your choice. Make sure to use an obvious one so that you don’t accidentally send out with them still on it.  When it comes to doing this for letters, you can use a list to mail merge. If you are composing letters less frequently you can just use the Save As function to retain a copy.  Either way, templates can be a real time saver when it comes to fairly repetitive tasks.

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