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Archive for July, 2011


Color Coding as a Tracking Tool

Color coding helps you find what you need when you need it. It provides a quick, easy way of seeing status, controlling assignments, and saving time when retrieving and filing paper and electronic data. This can be especially helpful when dealing with large file categories, such as clients, vendors or projects. Determine the assignments, reports, files, etc., you need to colorize and assign a specific color to each grouping. For example, you could assign blue for customer categories, green for financials, yellow for vendors and orange for forms.

If you report to more than one manager or support more than one person, you can also use color coding to easily recognize documents from each. For example, you could assign green to the finance manager, red to the facilities manager and so on. This will make it easy to quickly recognize their work—even from a distance.

Keep your use of colors consistent throughout all filing areas of e-mails, electronic and paper files.


Use Email “To”, “Cc” and “Bcc” Appropriately

To ensure proper delivery and a quick response for your emails, make sure you send them the right way. Here are some quick tips for using To, Cc and Bcc correctly.

To: This is for people you are directly addressing. When people are directly addressed in an email, make sure they need to do something—take action, make a decision, review or approve something and so on. If they are receiving it for information only, use the Cc or explain early in the email why it is important for them to know this information.

Cc: This is for readers who do not need to take action. You are sending the email to them for their information only. Use this judiciously. Copy only people who need to be copied. Keep in mind, people who are Cc’d may not read the email and may either immediately file it or trash it.

Bcc:Bcc addresses are like Cc addresses except only you know who is being Bcc’d. This information is not visible to the To’s and Cc’s. Use Bcc if you are sending the email to several people, and you do not want to share everyone’s email address. If you do this often, it is more productive to create email groups using a group name, such as Payroll Project Clients. Usually, when you enter the name of the group in the To area, the email goes to everyone in the group, but recipients see only the assigned group name.


Organize Emails for Quick Response

Do you find people are slow to respond to your emails? If so, here are some quick tips to make it easier for people to read and reply. 

  1. Write from the Top Down. Start with the most important piece of information the reader needs to know and end with the least important. This is called the inverted pyramid. It ensures readers will get what they need to know even if they stop reading.
  2. Use a Dynamic Subject Line. The subject line is the most important part of the email. Make sure it indicates the content of the email, highlights any urgent matter and sets the reader’s expectations. 
  3. Use a Keyword in the Subject Line. A keyword is the first one or two words of the subject line that tells readers what you want them to do. Some keywords are: Decision Needed, Review by [date], Approval Needed and Action. The rest of the subject line expands on the keyword.
  4. Use a Signature Box. The signature box tells the reader who you are and adds to your credibility. Unless your department wants anonymity for employees, make sure your signature box has your name, title, phone and fax numbers for additional information.

An Easy Morning Starts the Night Before

There are few things as frustrating as a disorganized morning. Do you find yourself running around the house trying to get ready for work, fix lunches, get the kids out the door on time while hunting for your keys and briefcase, only to arrive at work and discover the flash drive with your presentation is sitting on your dining room table? If so, you need the key to a good morning–an evening routine! 

  • Create a Reminder List. Create a list of everything you have to take with you the next day and post it where you will see it before you leave the house in the morning. 
  • Pack Lunches and Snacks. Save money by bringing food from home. 
  • Set the Table before Going to Bed. A table ready for breakfast is one less chore in the morning.
  • Choose the Next Day’s Wardrobe. Do all the ironing and coordinating the night before.  No need to spend time doing this in the morning.  
  • Create a Space for Items You Need to Remember. Put anything you can in your car the night before.  Put all other items together so you can grab and go in the morning.

Plan tomorrow tonight and have a positively productive morning!


Yes, But!

“Yes, But” is the name of a game people often play. It is a psychological game wherein someone ostensibly asks for your help. But they don’t really want your help. As a matter of fact, if you make a suggestion they will most likely respond by quickly saying, “Yes, but I can’t do that for yada, yada, yada, etc, reason.” Give them another suggestion and they will “Yes, but – yada, yada, yada” you again. They will keep it up until you get frustrated and basically tell them, “Whatever!!”, or something worse.   

What’s the payoff for them? Usually this exchange serves to exonerate them from taking responsibility for their problem. Once you get to the point of frustration and lash out at them, they can say or think, “See, no one else can figure out what to do about this either!” So, they are off the hook. Subordinates love to play this game with their boss. It can be especially rewarding to think, ” See, my boss can’t figure this out either.” They win!!

What can you do about this game? First, get good at recognizing it early on. Second, when you recognize it … cross up the game player by saying something like, “Oh, I thought you really wanted my help … but you are just playing games with me aren’t you?” It will get them to stop playing games, or they will go away and play with a more willing person. You win!!

Written by Chris Crouch, developer of the GO System.