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Archive for September, 2011


Read Faster for Results

Do you have stacks of documents to read every day? If you are like most people, you spend hours a day reading printed and electronic documents. Use these tips to rev up your reading speed to get through that pile faster without harming comprehension. 

  1. Stop reading word-by-word. Instead, read entire phrases or clauses as single units of information. 
  2. Pay attention when you read to avoid re-reading. You can retain focus by running a pen or your finger across and down the page. 
  3. Keep distractions to a minimum. Do not multi-task, avoid auditory distractions and stop daydreaming when reading. 
  4. Focus on the most important information. Read headlines, subheads, photo captions and the first sentence or two of paragraphs. If a document is well written, the topic sentence (the major point of each paragraph) will appear early in the paragraph. Once you get the major point of the paragraph, you usually do not need to read the entire thing. 

It is not appropriate to read everything quickly. Slow down as appropriate. Take your time when reading legal documents, when editing or proofreading, or if you need to analyze or summarize the material.  Check out the book “The Power to Read Your Best” by Bobbi DePorter for some great tips!


Juggling Managers

Handling multiple managers is not a problem; it is an opportunity to develop your collaboration and interpersonal skills. An important key to supporting more than one manager is to understand how your skills can complement each of their skills. Your goal is to develop an individual relationship with each manager. What skills do you need to work for multiple managers? You need to: 

  • Understand the goals of your department and how each manager contributes to those goals. Meet with each manager to better understand where each fits into the big picture and discuss how you can better support each.
  • Create a master calendar that shows deadlines for tasks by manager. A master calendar can help you get and stay organized. Make sure everyone has access to the master calendar, so each knows your priorities.
  • Keep lines of communication open between you and each manager. Also encourage communication between the managers themselves.
  • Be flexible and assertive about priorities and deadlines. When there is a conflict, speak up and negotiate to ensure the most important tasks for the department are completed.

Understand Styles for Better Motivation

Understand Styles for Better Motivation 

Do you often wonder what makes people tick? Why some people are achievers and others need to be prodded into action? Understanding motivation styles can help you communicate in a way that gets others—and yourself—in action! 

  • Larks vs. Owls.

“Larks”—mornings—people naturally arise early in the morning and usually are full of energy. They are at their best until early afternoon, when their energy starts to fade. Make sure to schedule important meetings and creative activities early in the day.

 “Owls”—night—people are slow starters. They do not reach their maximum until mid-morning and are at their peaks mid-day. Afternoon is their best time for important meetings, decisions and creativity.

  • Toward vs. Away From.

“Toward” people like goals. They want to visualize the result of their efforts. The more richly the goal is described, the more motivating it is. 

“Away-from” people are motivated by consequences of acting or not acting. They need to understand what would be lost by not acting. For example, a “toward” person goes to the dentist because they want healthy teeth; an “away-from” person goes to the dentist to avoid cavities and gum disease. 

  • Internal vs. External.

“Internal” people are motivated by doing a good job. They usually are self-starters and prefer hands-off managers. 

 “External” people need positive reinforcement that they are on the right track in order to stay motivated. They want feedback and encouragement in order to keep going.  

  • Self vs. Other.

“Self” people are motivated through personal achievement and recognition. They want to be rewarded and acknowledged for a job well done. 

“Other” people are motivated by the team. They do not want to disappoint others and want to share rewards and recognition. 

Understanding what moves people is a key skill that will help you get better results.  Also, don’t forget about you  – schedule your day around your best times and be positively productive!


Quick Questions for Weighing Options

An important part of the decision-making process is the ability to evaluate options. Here are some quick questions you can use to help you choose among different possibilities. 

  1. How well does each option meet your objectives?
  2. What are the consequences of each option? Look at both short- and long-term outcomes.
  3. How does each option affect other people and departments?
  4. What are the trade-offs of each option? Clearly understand what can be gained or lost with each.
  5. What are the risks of each? Understand the worst-case scenario. Can risks be mitigated?
  6. What immediate and long-term resources are needed? Consider time, money, staff, equipment, etc. 
  7. What is the likelihood of success for each option?
  8. Is there support or opposition for any of the options?
  9. Does the option expand or narrow future possibilities?

 By taking time to answer these questions, you will be more skillful in making a better decision.


Instead of saying “No” try “No, not right now.”

“No” is a simple word, but it can be harder to say than any other word in your vocabulary. For many people, it is more important to be agreeable than to do what they really want. When someone makes a request, ask for time to think about it so you understand what is being asked and you can determine how time-consuming the task may be.

Instead of saying “No” try saying “No, not right now.”  Let the person know what you are working on and ask them to come back at a certain time.  When you do this, one of three things will happen: 

  1. They will come back.  That’s OK, because you told them to.
  2. They will find someone else to help them.
  3. They will have done it themselves – which could be the most important outcome.  Especially if they were asking you to help them with a task they should know how to do.

 Remember, if you let others control your time, they will.  Stay true to your tasks and be positively productive!