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Templates help teams beat procrastination, set expectations, and pave the way toward reaching their goals

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Meeples from different teams

Somehow, the most important deliverables are the hardest to tackle, even if the work is interesting or enjoyable (and especially if it’s not). When you’re struggling to make progress, it won’t help to blame inaction on a lack of will or motivation. A whole host of blockers can hinder your progress. Culprits may include psychological  issues such as anxiety, perfectionism, fear of failure, decision fatigue, and imposter syndrome. But it could be undefined goals that are keeping you stuck, or maybe a million other tasks and distractions are hijacking your focus. It’s no wonder that an American Psychiatric Association study found procrastination chronically affects 15% – 20% of adults.

At work, we also often wrestle with another productivity killer: unclear expectations. Ambiguity can make you unsure how to move forward; if you do act, it can cause a waste of time and effort, as the output may not be what was desired or needed. This situation creates so much employee stress that one Gallup study posited that clearer employer expectations could reduce company turnover by as much as 22%.

A Gallup study posited that clearer employer expectations could reduce employee turnover by as much as 22%.

Templates: putting the kick in kickstart

It’s lovely to understand why it’s hard to get started, but the work still has to get done. How can you give yourself and your team the best chance for success? One word: templates. 

A template creates a framework that can break a major process into actionable, bite-size pieces. They are blueprints for action and a central repository for all of a project’s information. But best of all, they give you an outline for deliverables. Templates help you clarify goals, set realistic expectations, and assign accountability. They assist with progress tracking and resource management so your team can work smarter, even in async. 

You can embed almost anything in a Confluence template to keep all your work in one place, such as visuals, roadmaps, and more. This makes it possible to collaborate seamlessly with other teams that might use other tools or approaches.  

We’ve got a template for that

Confluence already has more than 100 customizable templates, starting with classics like meeting notes or retrospectives, and extending to a load of standard needs. There are templates designed for the essential outputs of specific teams from HR to dev/IT, matching the needs of orgs from start-ups to global conglomerates.

On top of that, we develop new templates all the time, so check back often to see what’s just been released. For example, in December 2021 we’re adding the templates shown above and three dozen more! Keep in mind that we partner with some amazing companies – from Figma to MURAL – to pass along their best practices in co-created templates that can amp up productivity and problem-solving. For example, if you want to learn how to create a single source of truth about your product trials, check out Optimizely’s experiment plan and results. Need to fill an open position? Tap into Indeed’s process via its job description and hiring process templates.

If you don’t find a template that meets your precise specifications, no problem. It’s easy to create your own templates to use again and again to streamline processes from project collaboration and brainstorming to stakeholder management and all aspects of project progress tracking. And, if another team has a page you love, you can simply duplicate it to make it a template. Just go to that page, click on the actions menu (•••) in the top right, and hit “copy.” It’s that easy. 

Here are some of our favorite templates to help you get all kinds of projects on track:

Templates for project planning

To tackle a large project, use a roadmap or planning template to determine each step and then set the timing and who will execute each part. Options such as project plan and product launch are all-in-one pages for clarifying roles, assigning responsibilities, mapping out milestones, and setting deadlines.

You also can drill down on specific aspects of project planning and collaboration. Capacity planning helps you get real about each team member’s bandwidth so you can manage workloads efficiently, while goals, signals, measures spurs on project collaboration by reminding everyone of joint objectives.

Templates for brainstorming

Coming up with fresh ideas is the lifeblood of business. To help get the creative juices flowing and capture all the great results, try the brainstorming and disruptive brainstorming templates. Here’s a suggestion for how to use them:

  • Prep the template and send it out in advance. Link to resources and insist your team review them before a meeting to maximize creative time when you’re all together. 
  • During the session, use the templates to define objectives and expectations and to dive into different frameworks that help you generate great ideas. Record and share the ideas by embedding Jira, Trello, and third-party visual templates. 
  • Later, anyone who couldn’t be there can add in their ideas to the template. You can invite reviewers, managers, and more collaborators from different teams.

If you need a brainstorming template for a specific task or department, you’re in luck! The IT project poster, for example, helps tech teams find the most impactful solution, rather than just the most obvious one. After identifying the problem, users brainstorm potential fixes, challenge their assumptions, and validate their ideas until they arrive at the best solution. 

Templates for executing work

If ambiguity and unknowns are causing project paralysis, templates can be your savior. Instead of struggling to figure out the parts of a deliverable, a template gives you the outline – and you just fill it in. (OK, that’s the hard part. But it’s a lot easier if you’re not floundering about what’s needed.)  

When you’re stuck in neutral on a launch, try the marketing campaign template to build a killer plan. Decide on your goals, brainstorm ways to achieve them, set deadlines, divvy up the budget, and assign team members their tasks. Then, everyone can see what has been checked off and what still needs to get done.

Templates can also be a boon to team communication, that critical element for effective project planning and execution. Keep the hoard of direct reports and cross-functional teams aligned and informed with OKRs as you rush to achieve them. And set up new hires for success with a  personalized 90-day plan that keeps key resources handy and makes milestones visible. That’s how to get a newbie up to speed fast to add to your team’s productivity.

Templates pave the way forward

Having too many choices, operating without clear goals, and struggling to manage your team’s attention can open the door to all sorts of stress and self-doubt that get in the way of good work. Templates nip those blockers, keeping your team focused and on track. Use these frameworks as your project’s roadmap and repository, the record you can revisit again and again to know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and why – and, perhaps most importantly, who is responsible for each part. 

So, whether you’re shepherding project collaboration between far-flung departments or leading a brainstorming session for new product ideas, templates can get you up and running…and help get you over the finish line.

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