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

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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%.

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.

Tables organize data-heavy content

Maybe you’re a part of a product team and need to break down your product roadmap due dates. Or maybe you’re on the marketing team and need to track campaign milestones and end dates. Regardless of your need or department, tables help you organize large amounts of data. And if you want your table to add value to your Confluence page, you need to optimize it for effectiveness.

First, add a table from your Confluence page, either from the menu bar, by using the keyboard shortcut (shift+option/alt+T), or by typing “/table”. From there, go into your table’s options and configure the column and row headers as needed.

A few things to keep in mind when creating tables in Confluence:

  • Context: People want to be able to skim the content to find what they’re looking for quickly—make sure your headings communicate the appropriate information. Use colors in text and cell formatting to highlight key information and distinguish between data sets and categories.
  • Details: The more information you provide, the longer it will take users to find what they’re seeking, so the fewer columns and rows you have, the better your table’s readability—especially for those using smaller device screens. Also, look for straightforward information (e.g., “yes” and “no” entries) that could potentially be replaced by an emoji (e.g., “✅” and “❌”).
  • Content: It can be easy to include every piece of information that seems necessary, but sometimes you’re duplicating your efforts. Look for information that can be inferred from other details. For example, it’s likely not necessary to include both a user’s birthday and their age. You just need to decide which entry illustrates the point you’re trying to make more effectively.
  • Formatting: Most people are more comfortable with vertical table alignment, but you should align your table based on the most important element within the data.

Once you lock down the information you want to include within your table, charts will help you tell a story with your data.

Charts communicate data stories

Using the information from your tables, Confluence charts can help you create dashboards, track project progress and deliverables, organize project budgets, and more. You can also add multiple charts to a single Confluence page so your teammates can easily get a top-level view of the project scope and quickly discover insights.

Take a look at what the different types of Confluence charts can do:

  • Pie chart: Valuable for illustrating percentages and values that make up a whole data set. Pie chart values (slices) should be colored distinctly to clearly differentiate between each entry.
  • Bar chart: Great for comparing several different values. Bar charts start with upright columns, but you may want to rotate them if the labels in your legend are long. And although there’s likely no overarching metric that relates the values, you should use colors that indicate an order of some kind (e.g., usage of product by membership level).
  • Line chart: A good choice for illustrating relationships between categories and trends over time. Use colors with increasing saturation or a highlight color to demonstrate the data story you’re trying to tell.

Confluence also gives users the option to create both grouped charts and aggregated charts:

  • Grouped charts: A side-by-side comparison of bar charts. You should limit the number of values you’re comparing to four values or less for easy understanding. Design your charts using multiple shades of the same color if values are related (e.g., ages), ordered from lightest to darkest or vice versa.
  • Aggregated charts: Group values by certain criteria (e.g., multiple transactions over time simplified to the total amount of product sales). You can use one color across the board or use individual colors to represent your column metrics.

Your goal with tables is to organize raw data into logical categories. And your goal with charts is to give your table data some functionality by uncovering and illustrating actionable insights.

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.
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