Sunday, January 28, 2018

TIPS FROM THE EDITOR: Tips on Making Time to Read

Busy schedules frequently eat away at our reading time, especially as our families grow, jobs become more demanding, and events pull us away. But if we want to continue to read -- fiction, nonfiction, newspapers, magazines -- we can make time. But it won't just happen. We need to plan it.

Following are some tips on how to make time to read. 

We’re all busy. We commute to work where we spend at least eight hours a day. We chauffer our children to school and their various activities, or we change diapers and attend to baby’s needs. We prepare our meals and those of our family – even picking up fast food takes time. We travel for work or pleasure. Then there’s the cleaning, clothes-washing, food shopping, dry cleaning – whew.

When do we ever have time to read?

Well, the answer lies in making time to read, not finding time!  Here are a few suggestions:

1.     Set a reasonable goal for reading. Plan which book you want to read next and by when. Don’t make it hard on yourself. Allow plenty of time. 

2.     Schedule reading time

Share some of your TV-watching or other entertaining time. By recording TV shows, you can schedule when you watch your favorite shows and work reading into that schedule.

Check how much time you are spending on housecleaning – could you break up your dusting into different sections each week—I mean, do we really need to dust the entire house EVERY week?—and use the extra time for reading a chapter or two.  I heartily encourage you not to take the time from your family. I have always been willing to do less housecleaning, however! 

What’s important is that you consciously set aside time to read – even put it on your calendar. And you’ll need to take it from somewhere.

3.     Alert your family when you are starting your reading time. Ask them not to disturb you. Oh, sure, I know that sounds tough, but it might work—especially if you suggest they join you and read their books at the same time. Arrange for family reading time.

4.     Discuss your book with your family. That might make them more willing to give you the time to read, especially if you keep them updated.

5.     If you have a long commute, you might consider “books on tape”.  In today’s digital world, you can easily download them to your iPhone (or other device) and play them through your car speaker. Or, you can listen to a book with ear buds while commuting on a train or subway.

6.     Try an e-reader, e.g., Kindle, Nook, or iPad. You can carry it with you. I keep mine in my purse, and when I have to wait at the dentist or doctor’s office or in a long line, I pull it out and read my newspaper or whatever novel I have underway.

Regardless of which means you choose, take some time to figure out how to make time for reading.  You will be rewarded with engrossing characters, mysterious circumstances, and maybe even a little romance.

Other articles for additional ideas on making time for reading:
Dave Astor, “Finding Time to Read More Novels,” The Huffington Post, 4/20/2012

Blogher Original Post, “How do You Find time to Read? My top ten answers,” October 25, 2008

MichaelHyatt: Intentional Leadership, “5 Ways to Make More Time to Read,” Guest post by Robert Bruce,

Sunday, January 21, 2018

TIPS FROM THE EDITOR: Writing about Yourself

Regardless of age, gender, or status, most of us are confronted with a request to write a few sentences, paragraph or a biography to sell ourselves.  And we hate it.

Following are six tips on how to write a description of ourselves that I have found useful.

Places of employment ask us for a brief summary of our background and experience to initiate a job application.  Teachers or colleagues in high school require a few sentences for a newspaper, program, or high school yearbook –whether for the debate or football team.  Non-profit Boards of Directors ask you – a retired executive—for a paragraph about your qualifications for their organization.

Unless we’re surrounded by professional public relations officials who prepare something for us, we just don’t like to talk about ourselves. It’s not part of our upbringing. We’re told not to brag about ourselves. So how do we make it easy and fun to draft those few sentences that will achieve what we want?

There are many ways to write a biography. However, if you can remember a few key tips, it will be easier and more effective.

-1- Keep in mind what you want to achieve.

What is your goal? Go beyond “because I need to fill out this form!” Take advantage of the opportunity to make something happen. This doesn’t have to be a life-changing objective. A simple “I’d like my fellow students to understand why I enjoy football or the debate team” or “I want the Board of Directors to know why I can make a difference on their Board.” Or, it could be “I need to get this job, so I want to impress the recruiter with my qualifications.”

-2- Know what the requestor needs.

Typically when someone asks you for this information, there is a need to fulfill. Obviously a recruiter is looking for background information to assess if a job applicant is qualified. Those responsible for printing yearbooks, programs or school papers require information to interest their readers in their publication or event. Most likely, non-profit boards want to assess how your qualifications will assist their organization to fund-raise, either as an expert to impress contributors or a publicist to make known their needs and contributions.

-3- Match your goal to the requestor’s needs. 

This is the fun part. Matching your goals with the requestors needs is the magic in writing an effective bio. For example, if a recruiter is looking for a specific set of qualifications, and your goal is to fulfill that set of qualifications, well – you’ve got the first step towards consideration for the position. (Even better if you possess the specific set of qualifications.)  Yearbook editors will welcome an interesting biobraphy that tells why football or debate is of value to you especially if that is something of interest to their readers. And there’s no doubt that if you can couple your business qualifications to the needs of a non-profit, you stand a chance of being asked to join their Board.

-4- Write a first sentence to state this connection between your goal and their needs. You may decide to change this sentence later, but it helps to clarify your own thinking.

·      Jillian Hillcrest is dedicated to using her 10 years of corporate communications experience to achieve your business needs.
·      Joe Quarterback feels a sense of fulfillment whenever he throws a touchdown pass, which spills over into his everyday life.
·      Johnny Debater debates to help him appreciate multiple sides of issues.
·      Retired Exec wants to apply her business experience to advance the cause of a non-profit.

-5- Support your claims with sentences that back up your initial statement.

Jillian supports her statement regarding her experience by describing her successes in getting media coverage to promote products, and mentions her educational degrees that qualify her. Joe Quarterback adds his stats. Johnny Debater can talk about the number of topics he’s argued. And Retired Exec describes successful programs and people he has managed and revenue he’s generated. 

-6- Conclude with sentences that tie your statements back to the needs of the recipient of your bio.

·      Jillian concludes that with her experience and education she is positioned to advance the company’s image and brand.
·      Joe Quarterback might end with his belief that football has taught him how to be a leader.
·      Johnny Debater might mention that his ability to appreciate multiple sides of an issue will help him make better decisions.
·      Retired Exec can conclude that he will make a financial difference on the non-profit Board.

Again, there are many ways to write the dreaded bio. But by considering your objective and your recipient’s needs, you have a guide that will lead you to a more interesting and effective description of yourself.