For years, I have used the concept of “templating” to improve my productivity. The idea is that you create a template for any task that you find yourself doing repeatedly. So instead of “reinventing the wheel” every time, you do it once, save it as a template, and then reuse it.
For example, I am chairing a new committee in my church. I just finished preparing an agenda for our first meeting. However, I will be doing this at least once a month, so I created a “dummy agenda” and saved it as a template. Now, whenever I get ready to plan future meetings, I will start with the template rather than creating the agenda from scratch.
But a template can include more than just the form of the document. It can include the content itself.
For example, several years ago, I found myself responding to the same email requests over and over again. People would request that I review a book proposal, consider them for a job position, or meet with them for some personal advice. These requests usually came from complete strangers or vague acquaintances. I really needed to say, “no,” in order to be faithful to my other commitments. But I found it difficult.
One strategy would be just to ignore these requests. Many people do just that. However, I didn’t think that would reflect very well on my company or me. Instead, I wanted to be responsive, even if I had to decline their request.
So rather than go through the angst of this every single time, I decided to take a step back and look at these requests objectively. In doing so, I created a series of email templates. (I personally use Apple Mail on the Mac, so I saved these as a series of “email signatures.”)
I thought through how I could respond in a way that addressed the sender’s request thoughtfully and with grace. Even though I would have to decline their request most of the time, I wanted to do it in a way that left people feeling considered and respected. And, to the extent I could help them, I wanted to do that, too.
So I created email templates for each of the following kinds of inquiries:
- Personal meeting request
- Book proposal review request
- Business opportunity
- Employment consideration
- Blog reprint request
- Customer complaint
- Media inquiry
- Donation solicitation
- Speaking invitation
Note: I don’t respond to obvious email spam requests for calls or appointments. My spam filter catches most of these but usually a half a dozen or so sneak through every day.
For example, when I receive an email from someone looking for a job or asking me to review their resume, I respond with this:
Thank you for considering Thomas Nelson as a potential employer. I am always honored when good people think of our company as a place to spend their work-life.
As CEO, I do not get directly involved in the hiring process except in very rare instances such as filling a key opening on our Executive Leadership Team or on my own staff.
Nevertheless, I can tell you how to get started. First, visit this page on our Web site:
This page contains a list of all job openings currently available at Thomas Nelson. Click on the job that interests you and then read the full job description. If you are still interested in the job, click on the link that says, “Apply for Position.” This will take you to an online Job Application.
Once you have submitted the form, someone in our Human Resources Department will review your application and take the appropriate action. If you can’t find a position that interests you, you might want to check back in a week or so, as these job postings are updated regularly.
May God bless you on your job search, whether He leads you here or elsewhere. Again, thank you for honoring us with your interest in joining our company.
I don’t mindlessly use these templates. Depending on the circumstances, I may personalize the response or even respond in a completely different way. Regardless, the template covers 90 percent of the requests and frees me up to focus on the other commitments I have made.
By the way, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber explores this concept in great detail with lots of excellent examples.