Accentuate the Positive

One of the most valuable exercises you can do as a manager of a business is to look at all the tasks you do on a regular basis and ask yourself “should I be doing that?”

If you are like many others, you will find yourself doing many things that others in your organization can and should be doing. By doing a better job delegating responsibilities, it will allow you, and others, to get more work done.

Please understand, this isn’t about you trying to do less work, rather it’s about trying to work more efficiently.

I have a friend who is very talented but tends to get frustrated trying to delegate because she knows she can do things better than the people she is delegating to. So, rather than delegate, she tends to do much of the work herself. While the quality of her work is very good, she doesn’t get as much done as she should because she is doing things others could and should do and not doing the bigger picture work

Another thing to look at is whether some of what you are doing can be automated to save you time, without losing the personalization. A very simple example would be the way I handle email with some of my web design clients. Some of the ones we have monthly maintenance agreements with would send an email to me and then I would review and forward it on to the appropriate programmer. The problem with this is that until I read and forwarded the email, nothing would get done (admittedly, if I’m at my desk, this might only be a couple of minutes but if I’m in a meeting it could take hours). Instead, we have set up email rules so emails sent from certain clients are automatically forwarded to the appropriate person. This frequently results in the work being done before I ever see the email. I could have the client email the programmer directly but at that point it makes it difficult to keep track of how much time is being spent on each project plus it makes it more difficult to make sure everything is being done. Plus, I can reassign the project (so that instead of programmer A being in charge of an account, I can change the rule and have programmer B put in charge with the client never seeing a change). With multiple clients requesting changes on a daily basis, these rules allow us to get more done, more efficiently

How many things are you doing which could or should be done by others in order for everyone to be more efficient? Or how many things are you doing that could be automated to make everyone’s lives easier?

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Stretching Yourself

People typically want to stay inside of their comfort zone. They don’t want to do something that might cause them uncomfort or embarrassment. Because of this, they only do what they feel they can do well and never stretch themselves to do something outside of their comfort zone.

The problem with staying inside of your comfort zone is you will never know what you can actually accomplish if you never take the chance and try something different.

Stretching yourself doesn’t mean doing something where you are destined to fail. Rather, it simply means doing something that might make you a more complete person.

An example of a ways to stretch yourself without embarrassing yourself is if you are uncomfortable with public speaking, instead of avoiding it at all costs, join Toastmasters ( and start by speaking in front of the small group and slowly build up to larger groups.

If you are afraid to go to a yoga class because of fear of embarrassing yourself in front of people you know, find a class where you don’t know anyone and start there.

There is nothing wrong with stretching yourself in small increments and most likely, it’s something that will be easier than going for a huge stretch right away.

Start slow, take a chance and stretch yourself and see how much more you are capable of doing

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New Internet Safety Blog

I just wanted to let everyone know I am launching a new blog on Internet Safety For Kids. The posts will be written to help parents (and other adults) help protect their children from predators and other dangers online.

There will be two posts made per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and similar to this blog, it can be read online, via RSS or you can subscribe to receive each post via email.

You can sign up to receive the posts right now at

The first post will be made on August 5th and then will continue from then on.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at

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Keep Learning

When we stop learning we stop living. That might seem like a pretty extreme statement but it’s reality. Living to me consists of experiencing new things, taking chances and growing as a person.

If we aren’t constantly growing as people we will stagnate and when you stop growing you start withering away.

The reason it’s frustrating to see people who stop learning is there are so many ways to learn. The obvious one would be formal education but there are so many other options as well.

Read a book
Join a book club
Watch documentaries
Attend (and listen to) a speech
Go to a conference
Attend a seminar
Join a discussion group
Read Online

Those are just a a few ideas off the top of my head.

Whether you participate in some type of formal or informal education, make a point to learn something new every day.

Keep learning and keep living

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Managing Email

If you are like me, you receive a LOT of email. In my case, I receive hundreds of emails each day (not counting Spam) and if I’m not careful, it can get a bit overwhelming.

Some people believe in checking email once or twice a day and have the belief checking it more often interferes with the rest of the work. However, others (like myself) are dependent upon email as a primary means of communication and see the emails as they come in.

Without a doubt, one of the best things I purchased was a second monitor for my desk. This allows me to have whatever I’m working on display in one monitor while my email is displayed on the other monitor. At any given time I can glance over at my email and see if something came in that needs to be dealt with immediately. This way, I can see the email, make a quick determination of whether it needs to be addressed right away and if needed read it and reply without ever losing site of what I was working on.

The second part of managing email is the use of folders (or in gmail, labels). When I see peoples email programs (whether it’s Outlook, Eudora, AOL, or one of the webmail programs) and see hundreds or even thousands of emails in their inbox, I just assume they are extremely disorganized and most likely not dealing with things the way they should.

The way I manage my inbox is I think of my inbox as my “to do” list. When the email first comes in, I will scan it to determine if it needs to be dealt with right away. As soon as I deal with it (which might mean read it, reply to it, do some other action) I will file it in a folder. Everything that is filed has been dealt with and is now being stored for future reference (I save almost all emails just in case I need to refer to them in the future). This means that every email in my inbox still needs something to be done. I might have replied to them but am waiting for a further explanation before acting upon the email or it might be something that just needs to be read but every email in my inbox needs some type of action.

Each day, before I end work, I will scan my inbox to see which of these items need to be followed up on immediately. If I have an email that I’m awaiting a reply to, if I have been waiting an extended period of time, I will resend the request. If I’m waiting for any type of action before dealing with an email, if the wait is longer than expected, I’m going to see what needs to be done to speed up the process.

At any given time I might have 100 emails in my inbox but if I notice that number starts to grow, I will spend additional time clearing them out. This might mean spending one evening catching up on reading emails or it might mean replying to emails that aren’t time sensitive (keeping in mind there is a difference between an email not being time sensitive and one that is being ignored and just because something doesn’t have to be replied to right away doesn’t mean it should be ignored completely).

Keeping control of my inbox is just as important to me as any other “to do” list. It’s something that must be done on a daily basis and if ignored, is something that will be virtually impossible to get back under control.

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Settle vs Compromise

Many people seem to use the words settle and compromise interchangeably If they want something and in “negotiating” with someone else they end up with something different, they think this is something they settled of compromised upon.

In my mind, there is a BIG difference between settling and compromising, if the compromise is done properly.

To settle frequently is used to mean accepting less than hoped. For example, a house seller wanted to sell a house for X and the buyer wanted to pay ½ of X so they “settle” for ¾ of X. Both the buyer and the seller feel they settled because the buyer paid more than they wanted while the seller received less than they wanted.

The alternative is when the two sides compromise and understand that a compromise doesn’t have to be zero sum. The example above is a zero sum in that every dollar the buyer paid above what they wanted to pay, the seller received. Effective compromise frequently results in a win/win situation for all involved. Again, using the real estate negotiation as an example, while many people would look at it as either the buyer wins or the seller wins, if done effectively, both can win. The real reason the seller might want a lower price is because they can only afford a certain monthly mortgage payment. While it’s true that lowering the price might result in a lower monthly payment, there are other ways to do this as well. Instead of lowering the price, the seller might agree to owner finance at a lower interest rate or they might agree to go with the same interest rate but financed over 35 years instead of over 30 years. If they choose to go with the same price but with owner financing over a longer period of time, the buyer gets the monthly payments they can afford and the seller gets more money over the long run.

Another example would choosing a restaurant for dinner. One person might recommend a Mexican restaurant while another might recommend an Italian restaurant. If, in their negotiations they think those two are the only options, one will win and one will lose. At best, this would be a settlement. However, if the two sides were to discuss why each recommended the restaurant that they did, they might find that the person who recommended the Italian restaurant likes it because of a certain wine they serve. The person who recommended the Mexican restaurant might know of a Mexican restaurant which serves that same wine. If this is the case, they can compromise and go to the Mexican restaurant that has the wine and now both sides win. It might actually result in them each getting more than they originally asked for.

Finding ways to compromise so that both sides benefit usually requires communication and open minds. Always look to compromise in a way that benefits all as opposed to settling for less

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