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A Twitter search for “productivity” yields everything from quotes by celebrated achievers (“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” – Pablo Picasso) to blog posts about the importance of creating “to-don’t” lists. The search also returns scores of tweets praising the task automation tool IFTTT (short for “If This, Then That”) and productivity hacks in general.

Everyone’s interested in improving productivity, and also in sharing their approaches.

But, however helpful words of wisdom and specific methods may be, they don’t go deep enough to inspire long-lasting productivity change. Sentiment is usually forgotten. Novel methods are often abandoned.

Image: Freepik

The tweets about productivity hacks, however, are notable. It’s not that each approach or hack holds the key to unlocking productivity. Rather, it’s the idea behind them—that shortcuts and task automation can save considerable time and effort—that holds the most power.

You don’t need to find a magic app to improve productivity in your organization, either. Your end-users already have access to dozens of tools and features within Office that are designed to make work easier and more efficient. They just need help finding them and learning how to use them.

You don’t need to find a magic app to improve productivity in your organization—your end-users already have access to dozens of Office tools and features that are designed to make work easier and more efficient

One way to get started is with templates, which is one of Office’s most useful features. Here are three reasons you should champion their use in your organization.

1. They can ensure quality and accuracy

Would you build a house without blueprints? Probably not. Apply the same standard to business documents, presentations and other materials—most of the content created within a business is a variation on content that already exists, and much of it has been carefully crafted and edited to reinforce the brand identity. Why invent the wheel each time? Using templates reduces the chances that vital information will be overlooked or incorrectly stated.

2. They promote consistency

Your brand’s message is important. By creating templates for standard corporate communications, you can ensure the language is consistent, the guidelines are adhered to, and the message is clear and complete.

In PowerPoint, for example, most of the effort (and time) goes into setting up slides. By creating templates with slides for various content types—charts, images, text only—you can ensure that all of your company’s promotional materials have visual consistency and that they work together to reinforce the brand image.

3. They save time and effort

Above all, using templates can save an enormous amount of time and effort. Templates ensure all of the building blocks are in place—margins, fonts, headers and footers, formulas and more. The only time investment required of end-users is adding images, data and other content.

Office and other business software include a wealth of features and tools that were designed to increase productivity. Business leaders need to stop looking for a magic productivity cure-all so they can see that the solution has long been right in front of them.

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