Do you love listening to music while you’re working? I sure do. Not only does it help keep me awake but it can help set the mood if I need a certain mindset.
Unfortunately, my favorite music can be distracting. Whether it’s Darius Rucker, Chris Stapleton, Mose Allison, or 70s disco tunes, it’s easy for me to concentrate more on the song lyrics than on my proofreading and copyediting projects. Being distracted when you bill by the hour doesn’t work and isn’t fair to clients. Luckily, there’s a simple solution.
All I had to do was create some awesome playlists—with instrumental music. Mine are on Pandora and Spotify. They’re perfect for those times when I need to focus, whether it’s for my clients or this blog post.
Don’t mistake instrumental for only classical tunes, although I do enjoy Chopin. There are so many lyric-less options! Here are a few of my favorites:
Want to know what else works for me? Sometimes I turn on sports or a news station that I’m not interested in. For me, it’s often sports on ESPN or hardcore economics on Bloomberg. The sound serves as the perfect background noise. Podcasts and foreign language stations also work well. As long as the voices are pleasant and neutrally-toned, it’s easy to stay engaged with my work without letting the content interfere.
Give some of these playlists a whirl. See if any work for you to pump up your productivity, minus those distracting lyrics! Enjoy!
Have you ever wished you had a superpower? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could fly? Or be in two places at once? As an administrative professional, you need a collection of superpowers to excel. One of your superpowers needs to be proofreading.
As a professional proofreader and communications professional, I’ve seen numerous content errors—ranging from silly and commonplace to wildly embarrassing. In truly terrible cases, proofing errors can damage companies’ reputations or cost people their jobs.
Developing Your Proofreading Superpowers
For administrative professionals, there’s good news. At the IAAP CAPstone 2018 conference, I’ll teach you how to use advanced software settings for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook to enhance your proofreading capabilities. If you’ve never explored each program’s settings and preferences, you are missing out! Customizing your software instead of sticking with the defaults—well, it makes all the difference.
You’ll also learn some amazing personal habits as well as software add-ons that will transform you into a Superhuman Proofreader. You’ll be able to use your newfound knowledge immediately.
Proofreading Tip #1
In fact, let's cover Proofreading Tip #1 right now. This personal habit will help you with your emails, and it’s easy to develop. Even better, it doesn't matter which email program you use—and it’s free. The next time you start to email someone, skip the To, CC, and BCC fields. That's right—leave them blank while you fill out the subject line and compose your message. This tip repeatedly saves the day because it's impossible to send an email that you haven’t addressed. Filling out the recipients last affords you plenty of time to run spell check or review once more before you click Send. This habit has helped me time and again, whether I had misspelled my client’s name or missed a simple but glaring typo.
Prep for Your CAP Certification (Domain 2, Outcomes 1–3)
This session will help administrative professionals prepare for the CAP Certification. We will be focusing on proofreading technologies for the modern professional. You can use what you learn in this session at any job or any employer, regardless of their style. Whether you’re working for a prestigious law firm or a local craft brewery or freelancing as a virtual admin, you’ll be able to use these tips like the rockstar administrative professional you are.
Supercharge Your Proofreading Skills
Don’t miss this great opportunity to expand your skills and make proofreading one of your superpowers! Register to attend IAAP’s CAPstone conference, March 5-7, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia: iaap-capstone.org
Allow me to share a story with you.
Recently, I was looking for an accountant to help me set up my accounting software (Xero). On its website, this particular accounting firm had a nice design and prided itself on being tech-savvy. Sounds great, right? Well, yes… except that so many things about the website felt contrary to that tech-savvy mentality they were trying to sell me on.
Specifically, the word choice throughout the site was anything but tech-savvy and other areas were just downright unprofessional in their carelessness. A few examples—also included in the slideshow below:
So I didn’t contact this accounting company. Maybe they are amazingly tech-savvy but hired the wrong copywriter. Taking time to vet them seemed like a waste of my time. It was quicker and easier to find someone else (whose website had only one typo, which I gently pointed out).
I know better than to think that everyone is a word nerd like myself. However, most people learn these basic rules at a young age. Subconsciously or consciously, they recognize when something is off. Doubt and distrust enters the picture. You're trying to sell them on a message, but they realize that something is wrong—is it your purported area of expertise or simply your grammar? Will they stick around long enough to find out, or just click away to the next competitor?
Moral of the story: Don’t let poor copywriting—whether it be word choice, grammar, punctuation, or misspellings—undermine your expertise and your marketability.
Solutions? A few come to mind...
Did you know October 20 is National Day on Writing? Created by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), this special day “celebrates the importance, joy, and evolution of writing.” Look for a flurry of tweets using the hashtag #WhyIWrite.
Whether you’re a writer of books, blogs, or business reports, take time to reflect on the quality of your writing. Is it clearly written? Is it free of spelling errors and other blunders? Will it achieve your objective? Will it resonate with your audience?
If you’re trying to improve your writing, consider the guidance from these books. They will help to ensure that your “practice makes perfect” rather than “practice makes problematic habits.”
When it comes to writing, follow Nike’s advice and “just do it!” Write. Edit. Repeat. Happy National Day on Writing!
In honor of National Punctuation Day, remember these five quick reminders to make sure your messages are spot on:
If you're itching for more helpful reminders, I like this 16-point list from Inc.com.
A wonderful article from Harvard Business Review about the impact of bad business writing and how it is ruining productivity.
Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity
By Josh Bernoff