Better Than Average Blog

Improve anything, maximize talents, and stand out from the crowd

If you’ve ever dreamed of wanting more, desired to stand out from the crowd, or reach a higher level of your potential, the Better than Average Blog is for you. Join us.

Better Than Average Blog - Improve anything, maximize talents, and stand out from the crowd

The 8 Commandments of How to Write Email

How to Write EmailSince email began to rise in popularity in the early 1990’s, it still seems that even in its young adulthood of its 20’s, people still do not understand proper email etiquette.

Despite what Facebook has to say about the impending death of email, it will still be around for some time. We might as well learn how to use it properly.

How to write an email may seem remedial for some, but apparently there are plenty of people out there that still need a reminder.

The 8 Commandments of How to Write Email

  1. Thou shalt not use email as an urgent medium – If you need to get in touch with someone, either pick up the phone or send an instant message if you see they are online. Email should be checked twice per day – noon and 4PM (assuming you work 9ish to 5ish). That way, you can focus on your work output and projects. What is the proper communication medium?
  2. Email is not thy job – Unless you are in customer service responsible for responding to customers on behalf of your company, managing your inbox is not your primary job function. Close Outlook/Notes/web browser and get your work done. What should you really be doing?
  3. Thou shalt use the CC field for notification only – Treat it as an FYI. Assume that someone will not see the message if they are in the CC field. Some people even filter their messages so that when they are in the CC field, it goes to a separate, less viewed box. In which field should this recipient be placed?
  4. Thou shalt not use email as a conversation medium – If the email string goes beyond three emails, pick up the phone or send an instant message, especially if the “conversation” is between two or three people. The tit for tat back and forth clutters inboxes and often takes longer than a quick call. How can I get more done faster?
  5. Thou shalt not send a thank you email – If your email body only contains only the words “Thank You”, do NOT send the message. “Thank You” is implied by the sender of the original message. Save the storage. Bite the bits. If there is more than a simple “thank you”, fine, send the message. But please do so cautiously. What value are you adding to your messages?
  6. Thou shalt use the Reply All button sparingly – Consciously think about who must see it, who might like to see it, and who doesn’t need to see it. Those thoughts translate to the To field, the CC field, and the Remove from Message button. Who really needs to get the message?
  7. Thou shalt use Read Receipts sparingly – We have enough online stalkers already through social media. We don’t need another one through our inboxes. If you must have “proof” that your recipient saw your message (say an RFP response), use the read receipt. But, remember that some systems do not reply to the read receipt. Or, some people refuse to send out receipts. Why do you continue stalking?
  8. Speed is not the response – Expect a 24-48 hour turnaround to your message. If that is too much of a lag, find a different medium. If the response is quicker, consider yourself fortunate. Or, the recipient was bored. Do you absolutely, positively got to have a reply now?

 

QUESTION FOR YOU –

What commandments must thy obey most?

 

SOMETHING FOR YOU –

For a white paper on 11 Easy Ways to Stand Out from the Crowd, shoot me an email and you score it for free!

_____

Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

Post to Twitter Post to LinkedIn Post to StumbleUpon Post to Delicious Post to Reddit Post to Squidoo

9 Better than Average Tips for Workplace Productivity

Workplace Productivity Need to find ways to be more productive at work? Overburdened and nearing burn out at the office due to overwhelming demands? Can’t possibly get everything done?

Disconnect.

But I am expected to be available, reachable, and connected, you say. But you are also expected to be productive. You are expected to get your work completed – on time and accurate. If you aren’t able to get your work done, how can you be productive?

Silence is the new noise. Turn down the distractions to turn up the production. When you really have to get something done now, disconnect.

The Better than Average use these workplace productivity tips daily to get more output, quicker results, and keep their sanity.

9 Ways to be More Productive at Work

  1. Close Your Email – Many surveys suggest that email is the number one workplace distraction. However, I’m guessing that “checking email” is not your primary job description. Email is not an urgent form of communication, so anyone who uses it as such doesn’t know how to properly communicate. Therefore, you shouldn’t need to incessantly check it. Nor jump every time a little bubble pops up in the lower right corner of your screen notifying you of a message. Close the inbox. Get your work done. If you need to respond to messages, find the “disconnect from server” setting and work offline while you compose your replies. Why do you need to instantly reply?
  2. Turn Off the Phones – Forward the phone to voicemail. Turn off the cell phone. There’s nothing like a ringing phone with a harried caller to redirect your attention from your work. They can leave a message. Or call back later. Or, better yet, call someone else. That kills two pigs with one bird – they are not squatting on your phone and you don’t need to return a call. What should go to voicemail?
  3. Close Your Browser – The grand thing about the Internet is that there are limitless distractions – news sites, social media sites, gossip sites, shopping sites, video sites, you name it. But when you are trying to get something done, the last thing you need to do it putter away your day distracted by the World Wide Web. Like a Pandora’s Box, once it is open, there is no stopping it. So don’t open the browser. Just…don’t…do…it. If you really have no discipline, get a program that will actually block you from opening the browser or limit your viewing to certain sites. Why do you need to see that status update right now?
  4. Shun Visitors – Tell them to go away. Nicely, of course. Offer a better time when they might be able to speak with you. Or have them send you a brief email about their needs. Take a rolling whiteboard and place it at the entrance of your cube to act as a door. Draw a knob if you are so inclined. If it is purely a social visit, explain that you are busy and offer to catch up later. They will understand. Was that last conversation important?
  5. Limit the List – If your To Do List reads longer than War and Peace, that’s a problem. Sure, we all have stuff that we need to do. But what needs to get done today? Limit the list to two to three main items. Do those items first when you arrive with a completion preferably before lunch. I try to put one main task on the list per day, with a usual maximum of two large tasks. If there are multiple, small critical tasks, I’ll let the list length slide to three or four. However, all of them should be able to be completed with relative confidence. As things arise throughout the day, they go on the longer term list, to be placed on future daily lists. What two items will you complete tomorrow?
  6. Be Selective – Do you really need to attend that meeting? Do you need to stay for the entire conference call or could you ask to go first, get your items out of the way and move on? Is someone else better suited to reply to that email? Are you letting others waste your time? Your time is valuable. Treat it as such. Scrutinize requests for your engagement. What is your time worth?
  7. Block Time – Put blocks of time in your calendar to get work done. When you look at the day ahead, if there are open slots, fill them with appointments with yourself. Use this time to crank out that project. Complete the items on your longer term To Do list. Think creatively for a moment. Whatever you need to do – use this time to get work done. Don’t allow people to schedule same-day meetings unless it is truly urgent. How much time do you have in your schedule now?
  8. Change the Scenery – Get outside of your cube. Go to the cafeteria. Or a conference room. Or a local Starbucks. Get away from the desk to help you focus on the work that needs to get done. If they can’t find you, they can’t distract you. It might even help you with creativity. Where will you hide?
  9. Run Away – If you are working on a large project and need extended time to focus on this output, take time away from your usual environment. Maybe work at home. Or at a hotel. Or at the library. Leave notifications that you will be out of the office working on a special project for the next few days. It will naturally keep the distractions down and minimize the additional burdens when you return. Where will you go?

Now, close your browser and go get something done.

 (photo courtesy of Flower Factor on Flickr)

 

QUESTION FOR YOU –

Paraphrasing from Ferris Bueller, “What? You’re still here? Go on.”

SOMETHING FOR YOU –

For the awesome first chapter of the #1 best selling book Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World, send an email to me and you score it for free!

_____

Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

Post to Twitter Post to LinkedIn Post to StumbleUpon Post to Delicious Post to Reddit Post to Squidoo

4 Ways to Make Mindless Tasks More Productive

4 Ways to Make Mindless Tasks More ProductiveWhen you have those mind-numbing tasks – copying numbers into a spreadsheet, creating an expense report, watching paint dry – what do you do with your time? Do you dottily complete the job? Or, do you find a better way to use the time?

Rethink your idea of time management. Don’t allow mindless tasks to waste your day. You might be able to cram an extra hour into your schedule by doing two things at once.

How can you best use this time?

When you have those mind-numbing tasks, look at time management from a different perspective. What else can you do to maximize the time?

Check out an audiobook – Remember the library? If you haven’t been there for a while, they’re one public institution that has upgraded to the 21st century. Now, you don’t even have to visit the library to use their resources. You can go online, borrow an audiobook, download it to your computer, throw it on your MP3 player, and listen to it without leaving the comfort of your pajamas.

Complete some “mandatory” training – If the training is simply a check-in-the-box (and where you really don’t need to pay too close attention), knock that out while doing your other activity. Webcasts and audio classes work best here, of course.

Listen to a podcast – Find something interesting and educational. It will stimulate your brain while the other task is trying to suck it out like a zombie. Mmmm….brains. Maybe the two forces will balance out.

Watch a video – Again, educational in content here, not the fuzzy kitten swatting at a ball of yarn or the cute puppy doing the Macarena.

I usually have two computers going while I am working. One computer has my work, while my other computer has the additional learning opportunities – audiobooks, educational videos, podcasts, or webcast replays. Could I use one computer while working? Probably. But I’m old school like that and prefer separate screens for separate tasks.

If it’s a thinking task, concentrate on thinking. But if it’s a “busy” task that must be completed, look for something else to do simultaneously to help you gain wisdom, be entertained, or meet other requirements. You’ll squeeze more time into your day.

 

QUESTION FOR YOU –

What will you do during your next mindless task?

SOMETHING FOR YOU –

For the awesome first chapter of the forthcoming book Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World, send an email to me and you score it for free!

_____

Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
Author, Speaker, Consultant
[email protected]

Post to Twitter Post to LinkedIn Post to StumbleUpon Post to Delicious Post to Reddit Post to Squidoo