Tag Archives: Email

Writing: Your Ticket to Twenty-Somethingness

I started this blog as a way to practice my writing. Essentially, I write for a living, so I figured this outlet would help me develop and practice my craft.

Much has been written lately about the importance of writing in any job. As a young professional, you are likely familiar with the term “generalist”. If you aren’t familiar with the term, you are probably familiar with the concept –  as young professionals entering the workplace, we must be prepared to perform an increasingly diverse list of job responsibilities, and we’d better get pretty good at all of them. Gone are the days of being a “numbers guy” or the girl who is really good at editing everyone else’s writing. Excelling in numbers (haha, get it?) and possessing exceptional editing skills are marketable, but waning budgets, smaller staffs and more work also require us to know how to mail merge, answer phone calls, make phone calls, sell stuff, market products and report on them in a clear, concise manner. In short, you can be great at one thing, but you’d better be pretty darn good at everything else, too.

Strong writing skills are imperative, but many of us lack the basic grammar, spelling and composition knowledge we need to succeed. Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Business, writes:

The number of poorly written emails, resumes and blog posts I come across each month is both staggering and saddening. Grammar is off. There are tons of misspellings. Language is much wordier or more complex than necessary. Some things I read literally make no sense at all to me.

Writing is a lost art, and many professionals don’t realize how essential a job skill it is. Even if you’re not a writer by trade, every time you click “Publish” on a blog, “Post” on a LinkedIn update, or “Send” on an email, you are putting your writing out into the world.

The title of that post is: Want to Be Taken Seriously? Become a Better Writer. ‘Nuff said.

Indeed, we must put a stronger focus on our writing skills and the way our business writing is coming across to our peers, supervisors and external audiences. If you don’t take your writing seriously, you won’t be taken seriously. I think this is true in personal communications among friends and family as well.

There are a number of resources available when you google the words “grammar” and “stupid”, but here is my favorite. Take note of the tips in that article for some simple mistakes to avoid. But beyond that, give all of your e-mails a second or even third look this week. The recipients will appreciate it and you’ll notice a difference in the way that your messages are communicated.

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No More Google Reader: What Now?

Google Reader will cease to exist on July 1. Most of what I told you about reading blogs revolved around syncing your RSS feed using Google Reader, so I apologize for that. I have been very happy with my RSS readers, and Google Reader has been the glue that kept them all together. I don’t have a recommendation just yet as to what you should do now, but I thought I’d pool some of my favorite articles about the subject together so that you can form some of your own opinions and try multiple options.

Surprisingly, this announcement from Google sparked discussion on the popular blog reader, many people expressing their frustrations with the program. I agree that Google Reader in and of itself was not impressive-looking, but it integrated with a majority of the RSS readers that work across devices, so it will be sorely missed by those who like to sync.

At least I have until July 1. In the mean time, learn with me:

  • This guy said “Good Riddance, Google” and made me realize I’m an “information junkie,” as if I didn’t already know that.
  • Lots of folks are talking about Feedly, which apparently does the same thing and looks better. Since Google announced the end of Google Reader, Feedly has gained 500,000 new users in less than a week.
  • Gini Dietrich over at SpinSucks offers a few of her own suggestions for reading blogs.
  • Flipboard is trying to capitalize on the announcement as well. Some people really like Flipboard, but I’d recommend it for people who don’t mind missing things sometimes. I prefer to see everything and opt-out of reading certain things if I don’t see the need, rather than letting the App do that for me.
  • John Dvorak over at PC Mag says Google should make Google Reader an open source code, like the WordPress platform I currently blog on. I disagree with how he got to this suggestion, but I think it would be great. The problem with this suggestion is that the main reason Google Reader is going to File 13 is to send more traffic to Google+. Making it an open source platform would not help achieve this goal.

A lot of you may be scratching your heads wondering what I’m even talking about, which is fine. This may be your opportunity to look more into RSS Feeds and develop a strategy for reading your favorite blogs.

If you prefer reading all of your favorite blogs via e-mail, I can’t blame you. Scroll on down to the bottom of this webpage and you can easily sign up to receive e-mail updates for this blog. Personally, I’d go nuts receiving an e-mail every time a blog I read published new content. RSS Feeds make this a lot easier, and, no matter how you do it, I highly recommend reading as many blogs as you have time to read. There is some great stuff out there!

What am I missing? What are you going to do?


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Evernote: 3 Tools You May Not Know About

EvernoteI have a bad habit of downloading a new app, using it once or twice, and then never giving enough thought to how the app could help me improve my productivity or simplify my life. When I first got an iPhone in 2010, Evernote was one of the first apps I installed. I had heard that I needed to have it because it was new, innovative and cool. I also had heard I could install it on my Macbook, so I did that too. I used it once or twice, mostly as a way to bookmark sites and also as a way to take some notes. It is really good for bookmarking sites and taking notes, but there is much more to this app than that. Over the past several weeks, I have started hearing more and more about people who use (or wish they used) Evernote to its fullest capabilities. The best example of someone who gets Evernote is Brett Kelly, author of “Evernote Essentials”. This eBook gives you the basics of Evernote for a small price and Kelly will even e-mail you a free sample. He also offers a 100% money-back guarantee. If that doesn’t stimulate your interest or your pocketbook is empty, check out Craig Jarrow’s advice on 10 ways to save time using Evernote. The things I’m about to tell you about are likely already covered in both of the posts I’ve already mentioned, but I’m showing them to a new audience.

Before you read the rest of this message, download Evernote, create an account and make some notebooks based on the types of articles, sites and ideas that you’ll want to hang on to. A few of my favorites include: Recipes, New Projects, Read Later, BeTwentySomething.com, For My Wife, For Work.

Once you’ve downloaded the App and are getting familiar with it, here are three things you may not have known about Evernote that can help you simplify your life and improve your productivity:

  1. Did you know that Evernote has “OCR” capabilities?
  2. The Google Chrome Evernote Webclipper is awesome.  The webclipper is a small elephant icon that sits just to the right of my navigation bar on Google Chrome.  It looks like a bookmark, and it is a bookmark, except it is a special bookmark that we refer to as a bookmarklet. A bookmarklet is a bookmark that has a function. The Google Chrome Evernote Webclipper’s function is to help you save time and increase productivity by allowing you a unique opportunity to save things you see on the web that you may need later. But, hey, isn’t that what bookmarking is for? Yes. You can bookmark pages and that will work well, too. However, does bookmarking a site allow you to easily organize your thoughts into specific folders (Evernote calls them notebooks)? Does bookmarking a site allow you to search by keyword later? Does bookmarking a site sync with every single one of your devices? No, it probably doesn’t. The Google Chrome Evernote Webclipper will really take your Evernote-usage and the effectiveness of this tool to the next level because it’s so easy to use.
  3. I can e-mail notes to my Evernote notebooks and tag them – even when I don’t have access to an Evernote-enabled device. Many big companies are fearful of services like Evernote, because they do not necessarily want sensitive documents to be sitting in some “cloud” somewhere, accessible by every device that may “sync” with your work computer. While I don’t like the limitations this has on my ability to use new tech tools, I completely understand the thought process and “I get it”. So, at work, when I cannot access Evernote, I just e-mail notes to myself that I want to read later. If I’m using LinkedIn for a work project and see an article I’d like to read (or write about) later, I can e-mail it to my custom Evernote account e-mail address, add @ followed by the notebook I want it filed in (i.e. @MyRecipes), and the note will be there when I need to get ahold of it. To see this e-mail address for yourself, open up Evernote, click the elephant on the top left hand side of the screen, click your name on the top, then, under General Settings, click “Evernote email address”. This will list your email address and even give you the capability to add the address to your contacts.

How are you using Evernote to simplify your life and increase productivity? Is this a cool app for 20-somethings to use? Have you moved beyond just bookmarking webpages to genuinely using this app and its vast array of features? Let me know!

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