What Makes You Different?

AdventurousAre you boring? Come on tell the truth…Are you plain Jane, run-of-the-mill boring? Do you wonder why nobody is talking about you or beating down your door?

What differentiates you from the rest of your industry? A little better or a little cheaper is just not extraordinary enough to get you noticed!

This year try something unexpected, something that amazes your customers or competitors, even if it’s ridiculous. It works for Zappos, it can work for you. It doesn’t have to be huge – sometimes simple innovations can be astonishing in their brilliance.

Be bold, be remarkable, be memorable, be authentic or unusual. Otherwise you will just fade into the woodwork of the millions of blogs and companies out there!

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How to Write Faster (& Better)

A wonderful guest post to help you become a better writer/blogger.

Every writer would love to write twice as many words in a day, but a struggle develops when the energy is lacking to formulate enough thoughts to keep the writing fresh. Instead of focusing on the quantity of work that is generated each day, follow these ten tips to improve the quality of the work which will increase speed over time.

1. Read

The best writers are avid readers of multiple styles and topics. Mastery of the language is paramount to expressing thoughts through the written word. Choose some famous authors and read various works to learn new words and styles that will add dimension to every piece you write. Read books about topics with which you disagree. Learn to listen to various points of view and refine your beliefs. Every word you read will play a role in future writing attempts.

2. Think first

Spend just a few moments thinking through the various approaches that can be taken for the topic. Eliminate the extraneous subtopics that distract from the most important point. If one avenue of thought does not work, try another approach prior to writing one word on the page. Perform some research and combine multiple approaches for a unique slant on the topic.

3. Outline

The length of the article is irrelevant when creating a broad or detailed plan for the material. Shorter pieces are more difficult to write because every word must be evaluated for the power of its message. Outline each subtopic and then add three points to be made under the topic. As you write, incorporate the outline into the piece. Reading the next point on the outline will create natural transitions without much effort.

4. Follow the rules

Writing frantically and then having to correct every punctuation mark, grammar slip, and spelling error is a waste of time. If the rules matter in the finished product, every rule applies to the first, second, and third attempt. Slow down enough to master every basic rule of the language, but ease up on the need to make every sentence flow perfectly in the initial draft. Transition words and sentences can be added in the next pass, but fewer edits will speed the writing process.

5. Allow thoughts to flow

While referring to the outline allow the information in your mind to flow into the piece. Concentrate on organizing the overall piece but allow each thought to flow freely without questioning every word. The next pass through the material will reveal breaks in thought that can be smoothed out by adding a word or sentence.

6. Use your knowledge

Research is valuable up to a point and then personal experience must take over to make a piece readable and interesting. Writing about highly technical topics without any knowledge will cause the piece to be difficult to read and exhausting to write. The best reading material is written by people with extensive knowledge in many topics that can be leveraged to create unique perspective through the written word.

7. Avoid distractions

Writers tend to believe that the human mind can do multiple things well. When the office is quiet and distractions are eliminated, work is much easier and thoughts make logical sense. Close the door and turn off the phone for the length of time it takes to write a complete piece without any interruption and then review the work. Attempt this strategy for one week and see the difference in the quantity of writing generated with fewer mistakes.

8. Take breaks

Between topics get up from the desk and go take care of a small task that must be addressed. Shift your thoughts to the next topic and start to do the thinking about the approach you will take. As you return to the desk, begin to form the outline for the next topic in your mind and get prepared to write again.

9. Simmer topics

While working on other projects think about various topics that could be written. Keep a notebook handy and jot down some notes, and then think through each topic and search for a unique approach. Spend five or ten minutes on each topic and learn to use the passive portion of your mind for creative thought.

10. Refine your work

Review the work written in the past three hours and look for areas that are choppy and must be smoothed out with transitions. Notice how many grammar and punctuation errors you fix in each one. Strive to remove errors in the first pass to increase the proficiency of your writing.

Today’s guest post has been contributed by James who is a full time writer and a product reviewer on CartridgeSave, offering Lexmark ink cartridges and other accessories to the British Isles.

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Questions Have Power

question mark

Image via Wikipedia

Do you regularly ask yourself questions? No? Then how do you ever have any answers?

Try starting every week off with some questions. Try a few of these or come up with your own!

What project or task do I really need/want to complete this week?

What new “thing” can I try this week? Activity, food, book, attitude….

What can I learn this week?

What can I do differently this week?

Who do I want to spend time with or meet this week?

How can I help someone this week?

Have fun with this. What other questions might you ask? Please share…

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Do We Even Know How to Saunter Anymore?

Generally I am lucky to barely even glance at the word of the day as I peruse my feeds, gadgets and daily morning intake of information. Today however, I was struck by the sheer audacity of the word. Saunter.

Saunter (verb) Walk leisurely and with no apparent aim.

Synonyms: stroll

Usage: The teacher watched his students saunter back into the school building after lunch, apparently in no hurry to get to class on time.

Yeah right… When was the last time you saw anyone saunter? Do we dare? Do we even know what that means anymore? This life, this world we live in, this culture of busyness we are immersed in does not allow for sauntering anywhere. Not at home, not in public, certainly not in the workplace.

Our children have never learned to stroll, as adults we never slow our pace, even the elderly retired folks I know seem to be in a hurry on their evening strolls. What has happened to us?

Perhaps we can’t return our lives to the slower, less stress-laden pace of yesteryear, but could we at least try it once in awhile?

This week, saunter somewhere, anywhere, just to show you can.

I dare you!

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How Can Your Kids Help?

What can you leverage or outsource? Are there chores or tasks that you could get someone else to do that would free some of your time or alleviate a portion of your daily or weekly burden? “Wait,” I hear you say, “but I don’t have money for an assistant or a maid!” I get that, and coincidentally neither do I. Let’s think outside the box for a minute. What about your kids (or a neighbor’s,) your spouse or bartering with a friend. Have you stopped to calculate what you could earn by using the extra time saved to generate more income? Maybe it’s not such a frivolous expenditure after-all.

In a blinding, but unfortunately rare light bulb flash of insight, I had the idea to “hire” my 11 year old to do my shredding. For some reason I never get around to shredding documents, probably because the task annoys me, but he loves it. So I offered him a penny per page, with a 25 cent minimum to check my office and shred daily. He gets candy money and I get a clear office floor. What a bargain! This week he may learn to copy and file! I have started paying my teens to bathe and groom the dogs and asked my husband to take responsibility for our son’s soccer practice and games. Yes, I still have to do drum lessons, band, tennis and horseback, but at least this one activity is off my plate. I use the lesson time to tackle a nagging project each week and it is wonderful!

Do you have to do it all? Just think for one minute. Is there even one thing you could outsource? The caveat to that is that you must relinquish a little control…

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