Today’s technology enables us to work faster, better and more accurately than just a few decades ago. Yet productivity in the U.S. continues to stagnate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we are now living through one of the lowest productivity growth periods ever recorded. In addition, a recent McKinsey Research report notes that the U.S. economy as a whole is only reaching 18 percent of its “digital potential.”
Where’s the disconnect? That’s a question with no easy answer—just a wealth of theories based on a handful of factors, including motivation, means, skill level and more.
For individuals, understanding and improving productivity will probably always be a challenge, both personally and professionally. And although you may experience periods of increased efficiency with new technologies and apps, you cannot increase or even sustain momentum without more profound change to your core approaches to work.
Sadly, there’s no magic app or algorithm. Progress is the result of small, consistent efforts like understanding and learning how to maximize the tools you already have.
Microsoft Office, for example, includes dozens of features that are designed to make work easier and more efficient. Templates, in particular, are easy to use and can help you increase your productivity substantially.
Here are three reasons you should use them:
Quality and accuracy: Would you make a loaf of bread from scratch every time you wanted a sandwich? Probably not. Apply the same reasoning to creating 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 your company’s brand identity. Why start from zero each time? By using templates, you are less likely to overlook or misrepresent key information.
Consistency: Your brand’s message is important, but getting it right should not come at the expense of productivity. Using templates for standard corporate communications enables you to deliver polished, consistent materials that adhere to company guidelines—with less effort and unnecessary time investment.
For example, when using word processing software, much of your effort (and time) goes into formatting your documents. By using templates that are already set up according to brand guidelines—fonts, bullets and numbering, headers and footers—you can ensure that all of the company materials you create are consistent and that they work together to reinforce the brand image.
Efficiency: Above all, using templates can enable you to create high-quality work with less time and effort. Templates ensure that all of the building blocks are in place—margins, fonts, headers and footers, formulas and more. The only time investment on your part is adding images, data and other content.
Using templates and other features may seem like trivial efforts toward such a grand goal, but they’re the opposite. Introducing new processes into your work approach is how you generate movement and gain powerful momentum.