Archive for February, 2012

Digital Manners

February 28, 2012

Do you think that manners should not play a role in our digital communications? I disagree. For me manners are important. I know that it’s a challenge to be polite and follow rules of decorum in text messaging but I also know that it’s not necessary to be rude when you are being brief. The same thing holds true when writing e-mails. Here though, I believe some rules and manners can be applied.

For example, if a student is writing an e-mail to a teacher (or a professor) standard letter writing protocol can be followed. What do I mean? Well, I think a proper salutation should be used (Dear Mr., Ms , Professor, or Dr.followed by the last name). Often I think that because they are using an instant form of communication  people assume they can be familiar or friendly with someone they either don’t know or don’t know well. Also when writing an e-mail to someone unfamiliar put a good but brief statement of intent in the subject line.Then, following the salutaion,state why you are writing, a little about the topic, and the outcome you are hoping for then close with Regards and your signature followed by your full name and contact information.

This lets the person you’re writing know that you are professional, respectful and you are someone with whom they may consider doing business.

Consider the alternative. When a person receives a message that begins with “Hey” and that person doesn’t know the author of the message the outcome might not be what the author is hoping for.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to be polite and follow a few simple protocols. You can always relax those protocols and be more familiar in your e-mails if need be. It is very difficult to go from familiar to formal – that essentially is backpedaling.

I’m interested to know if you are always familiar in your e-mail writing or if you are sometimes formal.

Work/Life Balance?

February 20, 2012

There’s been alot of buzz about work/life balance recently.  From what I read, there seems to be this quest for a perfect alignment of energy devoted to work and energy devoted to other endeavors. I do not believe that such a thing exists. Have you ever played on a see-saw? If you haven’t, perhaps you know what one looks like and can imagine what it would be like. A see-saw is rarely perfectly balanced and if it is completely level it’s because both children are approximately the same size and weight and both are able to touch the ground gently in order to maintain that balance. Phew! alot of work goes into creating that perfect balance, which probably lasts for a millisecond. If it’s so hard to balance a see-saw why do people expect that there should be a balance between their work life and their home life?

Let’s go back to the see-saw for a second and look at this in a slightly different way. When children are having fun playing on a see-saw one end is up and the other is down. Of course, there are the moments when the see-saw is balanced in the middle – brief moments. Maybe that is the way to look at the quest for balance between work and home activities. Sometimes, home gets a little more attention and sometimes work. Instead of striving for a perfect balance why not go for a give and take approach? Understanding that there are instances when scheduling work related activities take priority over home activities as there are times when the home life will be top priority. I believe that when you make peace with that concept and accept that there can not ever be a perfect balance you end up creating your own harmony between the two concepts – work activities and home or other activitiees. Isn’t that what this is really about anyway? Creating a feeling of harmony in your life so that you can do your work and have time for the other things in your life that fulfill you.

Be Realistic

February 13, 2012

Are you realistic in what you expect to accomplish each day? How do you decide what to do and what can wait for another day? I make a daily list of the tasks I want to do and the errands I need to run every night before I leave my office. I spend some time thinking it through, deciding what is realistic and what is not. Then I look at my calendar and schedule my tasks into my day. There are a few important things to consider. Ask yourself if the task is time sensitive. Does the task have a dealine? For instance, is it a bill that must be paid by a certain date or an invitation that requires a response? Are you trying to cram too many things into a short amount of time? Can something wait for another day? I believe it is important to be realistic. When a list becomes too lengthy it is almost self-defeating. Looking at a lengthy list makes you think there’s sooo much to do, not enough time, so why bother starting because it will be impossible to finish. When you keep your list short and manageable it is easy to tackle the tasks one by one. It becomes even easier when you assign a specific time to each task. Then you know exactly when you are doing what. When you are realistic you are in control so, be realistic!

What do I do first?

February 7, 2012

I am often asked this question by some clients with lengthy ‘to-do’ lists and by other clients with multiple large scale projects to complete. I do not answer this question directly rather ask my clients to think through the process of prioritizing. They define for me (and in that process clarify to themselves) the importance of the project. Is it time sensitive? What is the ripple effect of this project? Does a colleague’s project hinge on the completion of this project?  What will happen if this project is delayed in order to finish another project? Is this project something the client wants to do for himself or is someone else asking this project be done?

Once these questions are answered I ask my client to look at his calendar. I am a firm believer that nothing happens unless it is scheduled. The trick is to be careful not to schedule so many things into a time slot (or into a day) that you become overwhelmed just looking at your daily calendar. Another trick is to group like things. In other words, if my client has several phone calls to make on his ‘to-do’list I suggest he set aside a block of time and make all those calls. Next, look at the errands that are on a ‘to-do’ list. Are there any errands in the same vicinity? Which ones can be easily done one after the other? It saves my clients time to organize their calls and errands this way.

Something else to consider, when my client has a large scale project that is overwhelming the best tip I can give is to break the project down into manageable parts. Look at the pieces of the project separately and decide when to start. Assign a little time each day until that portion of the project is finished. Then begin the next part of the project. Do this until the entire project is finished. Believe me, you’ll be finished before you know it because it’s not overwhelming when broken apart into manageable pieces.

If you are asking “What do I do first?” see if answering the questions I pose my clients help you arrive at a starting point.