Lesson 239 – Parts of the Sentence – Verbals

A verbal is a verb form used as some other part of speech. There are three kinds of verbals: gerunds, participles and infinitives.
A gerund always ends in ing and is used as a noun. Eating is fun.
A participle is used as an adjective and ends in various ways. A present participle always ends with ing as does the gerund, but remember that it is an adjective. A past participle ends with ed, n, or irregularly. Examples: played, broken, brought, sung, seeing, having seen, being seen, seen, having been seen.
An infinitive is to plus a verb form. It can be a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. Examples: to be, to see, to be seen, to be eaten.
Instructions: Find the gerunds, gerund phrases, participles, participial phrases, infinitives or infinitive phrases in these sentences, tell what kind of verbal they are, and how they are used.
1. The glancing blow did little damage.
2. Go to the dictionary to look for the answer.
3. This computer game is easy to play and to understand.
4. Have you tried writing it down daily?
5. His chief interests are skiing and racing.
–For answers scroll down.

Answers:
1. glancing is a participle modifying the subject blow
2. to look for the answer is an adverb infinitive phrase modifying the verb go
3. to play/to understand are adverb infinitives modifying the predicate adjective easy
4. writing it down daily is a gerund phrase used as the direct object
5. skiing/racing are gerunds used as predicate nominatives

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.html. Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog
http://dailygrammarlessons.blogspot.com/2017/08/lesson-239-parts-of-sentence-verbals.html

5 Simple Ways to Write about Negative Issues with a Positive Spin

Have you ever written something only to have the recipient completely misunderstand your intent? Or been accused of abruptness when you thought you were being businesslike and efficient? There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to communicating effectively, but among the most important is tone.

I’ve spent nearly two decades in the online trenches in roles ranging from business owner to forum moderator to PR email writer extraordinaire—a true virtual diplomat. Here’s my best advice for writing about negative issues in a way that sounds positive and productive.

1Present solutions instead of problems.

It’s better to talk about what you can do rather than what you can’t. Formulate a solution or alternate plan and present that instead.

I can’t meet with you tomorrow morning because I’m booked.
Tomorrow afternoon works better for me. Would a 2 p.m. meeting fit your schedule?
Not everyone will remember to bring their handbooks to the meeting, so we should bring extras.
Let’s remember to bring extra handbooks to the meeting in case anyone needs a copy.

2State what you want, not what you don’t.

Why focus on preventing a negative outcome when you can encourage a positive one? Instead of beginning requests with “don’t,” try stating what you do want.

Don’t leave your leftovers in the break room fridge over the weekend.
Remember to take your leftovers out of the break room fridge on Fridays.
Do not bring laptops to this meeting.
Laptops aren’t necessary at this meeting, so leave yours at your desk.

3Keep hyperbole in check.

Sometimes exaggerated language is used to great effect (particularly by advertisers) to promote something or speak to positive issues, but when you use it in a negative context it can evoke bad feelings. Watch out for words like always and never. They’re more likely to mean sometimes than either of those extremes.

You always file your reports late.
I sometimes receive your reports after the deadline.
We never get anything done.
Let’s stay on task so we can get things done.

4Try “I statements”.

When you’re tackling a difficult issue, statements that begin with “you” (and especially “you always” and “you never”—see the previous tip about hyperbole) tend to sound like accusations. And accusations, of course, raise a person’s defenses.

When you’re bringing up something negative, keep the focus on how the situation makes you feel rather than what the other person did.

You never listen!
I find it hard to communicate when I’m worried that I’m not being heard.
You’re always on my case!
I feel frustrated when I’m frequently reminded to do my work instead of being trusted to meet my responsibilities.

5“I’m sorry, but . . .” means you’re not sorry.

When I was a kid, and I’d apologize for some heinous act of childhood treachery, I’d often apologize with, “I’m sorry, but—” My mom would cut me off in my tracks, saying, “Any time you add a ‘but’ it means you’re not sorry, you’re just defending yourself.”

When you’re sorry, be sorry. Excuses and other defenses render apologies useless.

We’re sorry your shipment was delayed, but we had a lot of orders this week.
We’re sorry your shipment was delayed. The number of orders we received this week took us by surprise!
I’m sorry I interrupted you, but I felt the conversation was headed in the wrong direction.
I’m sorry I interrupted you. Let’s keep the conversation on a positive track.

Here are a couple of things to consider before you send an email, write a social media post, or address anything negative in writing.

  • Do an empathy check. Read what you’ve written as though you’re the recipient. How would you feel if someone sent this to you? Is there anything you can change to make the message more positive, or to focus on solutions instead of problems?
  • Sit on it. Have you ever fired off a scathing missive and almost immediately regretted it? Give texts about negative issues a cooling off period before you send or post them. Chances are, you’ll be able to rewrite with a more positive mindset once you’ve had some time to process.

It’s not always appropriate to be upbeat and enthusiastic. A realtor, for example, wouldn’t want to sound chipper when she’s writing to tell a client that the value of their home has dropped significantly due to a downturn in the market. But maintaining a positive, solution-focused tone can make things like bad news or criticism less devastating.

The post 5 Simple Ways to Write about Negative Issues with a Positive Spin appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

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Lesson 238 – Parts of the Sentence – Verbals

A verbal is a verb form used as some other part of speech. There are three kinds of verbals: gerunds, participles and infinitives.
A gerund always ends in ing and is used as a noun. Eating is fun.
A participle is used as an adjective and ends in various ways. A present participle always ends with ing as does the gerund, but remember that it is an adjective. A past participle ends with ed, n, or irregularly. Examples: played, broken, brought, sung, seeing, having seen, being seen, seen, having been seen.
An infinitive is to plus a verb form. It can be a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. Examples: to be, to see, to be seen, to be eaten.
Instructions: Find the gerunds, gerund phrases, participles, participial phrases, infinitives or infinitive phrases in these sentences, tell what kind of verbal they are, and how they are used.
1. Blaming others is not being honest with oneself.
2. We do not plan to change the rules.
3. Forgetting his promise, Jeff returned home late.
4. My dog is too old to learn new tricks.
5. One way to improve is regular practice.
–For answers scroll down.

Answers:
1. blaming others is a gerund phrase used as the subject
2. to change the rules is a noun infinitive phrase used as the direct object
3. forgetting his promise is a participial phrase modifying the subject Jeff
4. to learn new tricks is an adverb infinitive phrase modifying the predicate adjective old
5. to improve is an adjective infinitive modifying the subject way

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.html. Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog
http://dailygrammarlessons.blogspot.com/2017/08/lesson-238-parts-of-sentence-verbals.html

Lesson 237 – Parts of the Sentence – Verbals

A verbal is a verb form used as some other part of speech. There are three kinds of verbals: gerunds, participles and infinitives.
A gerund always ends in ing and is used as a noun. Eating is fun.
A participle is used as an adjective and ends in various ways. A present participle always ends with ing as does the gerund, but remember that it is an adjective. A past participle ends with ed, n, or irregularly. Examples: played, broken, brought, sung, seeing, having seen, being seen, seen, having been seen.
An infinitive is to plus a verb form. It can be a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. Examples: to be, to see, to be seen, to be eaten.
Instructions: Find the gerunds, gerund phrases, participles, participial phrases, infinitives or infinitive phrases in these sentences, tell what kind of verbal they are, and how they are used.
1. Signs hung too high can’t be read.
2. You know my weakness, eating late at night.
3. Your weeping and wailing will not change a thing.
4. To decorate for the dance will cost too much.
5. Do you have a book to read?
–For answers scroll down.

Answers:
1. hung too high is a participial phrase modifying the subject signs
2. eating late at night is a gerund phrase used as an appositive
3. your weeping/wailing are gerunds used as subjects
4. to decorate for the dance is a noun infinitive phrase used as the subject
5. to read is an adverb infinitive modifying the verb do have

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.html. Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog
http://dailygrammarlessons.blogspot.com/2017/08/lesson-237-parts-of-sentence-verbals.html

Lesson 236 – Parts of the Sentence – Verbals

A verbal is a verb form used as some other part of speech. There are three kinds of verbals: gerunds, participles and infinitives.
A gerund always ends in ing and is used as a noun. Eating is fun.
A participle is used as an adjective and ends in various ways. A present participle always ends with ing as does the gerund, but remember that it is an adjective. A past participle ends with ed, n, or irregularly. Examples: played, broken, brought, sung, seeing, having seen, being seen, seen, having been seen.
An infinitive is to plus a verb form. It can be a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. Examples: to be, to see, to be seen, to be eaten.
Instructions: Find the gerunds, gerund phrases, participles, participial phrases, infinitives or infinitive phrases in these sentences, tell what kind of verbal they are, and how they are used.
1. To see better, I got new glasses.
2. Sometimes I just need to do more.
3. Having changed his mind, he turned to go.
4. The team winning the match will be given new shirts.
5. You can go home only by crossing the street.
–For answers scroll down.

Answers:
1. to see better is an adverb infinitive phrase modifying the verb got
2. to do more is a noun infinitive phrase used as the direct object
3. having changed his mind is a participial phrase modifying the subject he/to go is an adverb infinitive modifying the verb turned
4. winning the match is a participial phrase modifying the subject team
5. crossing the street is a gerund phrase used as the object of the preposition

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.html. Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog
http://dailygrammarlessons.blogspot.com/2017/08/lesson-236-parts-of-sentence-verbals.html

10 Ways to Save Time Every Day That Most People Ignore

Would you like more time for family, recreation, and rest? It’s easier than you think to find time to do the things you enjoy most. Let’s talk about ten oft-ignored ways to save time every single day.

1 Keep track of your time.

“What gets measured gets done.” Though experts debate who wrote this old adage, few disagree with its wisdom. By measuring your time, you can evaluate whether you’re spending it wisely. Otherwise, how could you identify areas that need adjustment? Focus on your time-wasters one by one. Once you get over the shock of how many minutes you waste, you can reappropriate where it will do more good. As you check your progress regularly, your steady improvement will motivate you to eliminate even more time-wasting practices. According to bestselling author Kevin Daum, you will benefit from measuring your time for as short a period as a week or a day.

2 Amp up your downtime.

Do you commute on a form of public transportation? Do you find waiting rooms boring? If you have a smartphone, you can use this unoccupied time to your advantage. Think of your shortest daily tasks. When you have a long wait ahead of you, such as a doctor’s appointment, come prepared. Take what you need to work while you wait, and you will be free for other activities later.

3 Dedicate a distraction-free zone.

One super-productive overseas plane ride inspired Bryan Guido Hassin, CEO of a global technology startup, to incorporate “plane days” into his schedule. He puts his phone and laptop on airplane mode, disabling the network connections. He lets his coworkers know that he will be as unavailable as if he were out of the office. Then, he tackles his highest priority work. You may not have the luxury to make each day a “plane day,” but surely you can turn off your phone and shut your office door to gain a few uninterrupted moments.

4 Do one thing at a time.

Multitasking will cost you 40 percent of your productivity, according to behavioral psychologist Susan Weinschenk. The problem is, you think you’re doing two activities simultaneously, but you’re actually switching rapidly from one activity to another. Switches last a fraction of a second, but over the course of a day, those seconds add up to a significant loss of time. You also make more errors and inhibit your creativity when you multitask. Instead, block off an hour or two to concentrate on your most important task. Can’t sit still for an hour? Set a timer for fifteen minutes, then force yourself to focus until it sounds.

5 Learn from the best (and the worst).

Experience is a great teacher, but you can learn from other people’s successes and failures as well as our own. Rather than lose hours in research, ask friends for the pros and cons of services or products that they’ve bought. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel or the flying saucer camera. It’s simple; copy the methods of successful people and avoid the ways of the unsuccessful.

6 Avoid unnecessary meetings.

Meetings are responsible for a lot of wasted hours. First, let’s address the meeting setters. Is a conference necessary? Would an email serve the same purpose? Does the entire team need to attend (because they play significant roles) or only certain members? If you are an employee, it might be difficult to avoid meetings, but your boss might understand if you point out a potential conflict of priorities. You might say something like, “The meeting today about the dress code falls during the time I scheduled for Project Urgent. Since we are on a tight deadline, would you prefer me to work through the meeting and review the notes later?”

7 Hire someone to do it for you.

Are you the only one who can do this job well? If you’re in a leadership position, delegate some duties to other responsible employees. Even if your work is not managerial, you can still explore the possibility of hiring a virtual assistant or a freelancer. If the undertaking doesn’t require a personal touch, you can save time by hiring someone else to do it while you prioritize other duties. Or, you can always use the time to relax. Such a step might even make you feel happy. As a Harvard researcher reported to The New York Times, “People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction.”

8 Finish what’s almost done.

To continue an ongoing project, you must review what you already accomplished, get out all your tools, and decide what you will do next. If a project is almost complete, why not finish immediately? Sure, you might stay a half-hour overtime, but you will complete it in less time than if you put everything away to start again tomorrow. Set aside time at the end of the day to wrap up short assignments. The more things you conclude, the less time you’ll spend worrying about them.

9 Buy helpful gadgets.

Some tools are time-wasters in disguise, but others will increase your productivity. Imagine life without cell phones, microwaves, or other modern conveniences. A vintage typewriter may look cool in your apartment, but would you write faster and more accurately with a laptop?

10 Say no.

It’s difficult to tell colleagues that you don’t have time to help them, but it’s necessary. Once they realize that you respectfully decline requests that cut into your personal or work time, they’ll soon stop asking.

The post 10 Ways to Save Time Every Day That Most People Ignore appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

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26 Words and Phrases to Never Use in a Resume

Resumes are tricky things. The tried-and-true resume tropes of old no longer make the cut in today’s competitive market.

Odds are good that your resume will go through an applicant tracking system scan to determine whether it contains the right keywords before it even hits a hiring manager’s desk. But let’s assume you’ve passed that test and your resume is awaiting review. The difference between getting an interview and getting a thanks-but-no-thanks email (or no acknowledgement at all) could come down to the words or phrases you used in your resume. Here are twenty-six of them to eradicate.

Avoid cliches like the plague.

Google’s dictionary defines a cliche as “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” The last thing you want to display on a document meant to dazzle an employer is a lack of original thought. Here are a few offenders to watch for.

1Best-of-breed

If you’re a prize standard poodle and you’ve recently scored a prestigious win at Crufts, then by all means use this term. Otherwise, thirty-eight percent of employers who responded to a CareerBuilder survey think you should slash it from your resume immediately.

2Think outside the box

There’s a certain irony in using a played-out expression to say that you’re a creative, original thinker. This one’s almost certain to make a hiring manager groan, or at least roll her eyes.

3Go-to person

You want to show that your colleagues rely on you for answers. Unfortunately, this trite phrase is more likely to make it seem like they rely on you as a source of antiquated tropes.

4Track record

Yeah, we get it, Seabiscuit—you’re always charging over that finish line, proving that you’re the fastest and the brightest. But the fastest and the brightest could find a better way to express that than “track record,” don’t you think?

5Win-win

No-no. This term has had its day. Let it fade from existence gracefully.

Buzzwords are beastly.

Office jargon—we love to hate it, don’t we? You probably wouldn’t have to think very long to come up with five stock words or phrases from office culture that make you cringe (at least inwardly) every time you hear them. Unfortunately, these words and phrases are pervasive. It’s all too easy to find yourself throwing them into your resume without a second thought. Time to send these beastly buzzwords out to pasture.

6Synergy

We bet you can’t find even one person who’ll defend the use of the term “synergy” in business culture, but you’re welcome to try. Go ahead. We’ll wait. Twenty-two percent of CareerBuilder survey respondents rated this one a deal breaker.

7Action (used as a verb)

You didn’t “action” that major project. Although verbs describe action, the word action itself is a noun. Please use it that way.

8Dynamic

Don’t get us wrong, dynamic is a solid word. It refers to a force that stimulates change or progress, or a system or process characterized by constant change and progress. All good things! But this word is so good that it’s become played out. These days, it’s a red flag signifying that you can’t think of a better way to express yourself.

9Going forward

You may want to show that you single-handedly led a project in a more positive direction, but if you say that the changes your team implemented “going forward” were successful, you may find hiring managers twitching rather than applauding.

10Thought leadership

Of course hiring managers are looking for people whose ideas are authoritative and influential. But if you use a tired phrase like “thought leader” to describe yourself, you’re likely to come across as lacking vision rather than having it.

Filler is useless.

Every word counts when you’re trying to keep your resume lean. Many people include stock filler words and phrases simply because they seem like part of a time-honored tradition. But your resume is a place to stand out from the pack, not merge with it.

11Responsible for

Boooo-ring. Use active verbs to describe your responsibilities. “Responsible for leading a committee” should become “Led a committee.”

12Salary negotiable

Yes, yes, the recruiter knows that you’ll negotiate your salary. But you have to be offered a position first. With this phrase on your resume, your odds of that are decidedly slimmer.

13References upon request

It’s assumed that if you’re asked to provide references you’ll give them. This phrase just takes up space.

14Phone and/or Email

Of course you should put your phone number and email address on your resume. But no, you don’t have to identify them as such with the words Phone and Email.

And twelve more words to eliminate . . .

The words and phrases above are some of the biggest resume offenders. Here are twelve more words and phrases you can also obliterate with impunity.

  • Go-getter
  • Value add
  • Results-driven
  • Team player
  • Ambitious
  • Proactive
  • Hard worker
  • Seasoned
  • Strategic thinker
  • Self-motivated
  • Problem-solver
  • Detail-oriented

“Show, don’t tell” is the golden rule.

When you’re creating or updating your resume, remember that showing is more powerful than telling. Instead of saying that you “think outside the box” say that you “envisioned and designed an innovative social media strategy that increased engagement by eighty-nine percent in three months.”

Remember to give concrete examples of your skills and successes—while avoiding cliches, buzzwords and filler—and your resume will shine like a beacon to recruiters and hiring managers everywhere.

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Neil Gaiman’s 5 Must-see Tips on Perfecting Your Writing

There are many celebrated writers in this world, but few ever reach the rockstar-level status of dark fantasy author Neil Gaiman.

Fans stand in line for hours at his book signings, only to faint when they finally meet him (or ask him to sign their body so they can get his signature tattooed).

His beloved novels and comics—Coraline, Stardust, American Gods, Good Omens, and The Sandman (to name a few)—have gained cult followings and been adapted for the big screen and television.

His 2012 “Make Good Art” commencement address inspired all of us to break the rules and make mistakes, making it clear that after decades of aspiring writers asking him for advice, Gaiman has a quite a bit of inspiration and wisdom to share.

So whether you’re hunting for magic, or just practical tips, we’ve gathered together some of Gaiman’s best advice on writing. Enjoy!

1Don’t Wait on Inspiration

If you’re only going to write when you’re inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you will never be a novelist — because you’re going to have to make your word count today, and those words aren’t going to wait for you, whether you’re inspired or not.

Writer’s block can be a frustrating and even terrifying experience. Gaiman’s advice is twofold. First, work on multiple projects simultaneously, so when one project stalls you can switch over to another. (Now you know why his publishing record is so prolific.)

Second, keep writing even when the inspiration has dried up and you’re convinced that every word you’re putting down is terrible. Your experience of “inspiration” is subjective.

Looking back at your work, you won’t be able to tell the difference between “which bits were the gifts of the Gods and dripped from your fingers like magical words and which bits were the nightmare things you just barely created and got down on paper somehow.”

2Find Your Unique Voice

Tell your story. Don’t try and tell the stories that other people can tell. Because [as a] starting writer, you always start out with other people’s voices—you’ve been reading other people for years… But, as quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only you can tell—because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you… but you are the only you.

It’s easy to waste time comparing yourself to others and wallowing in imposter syndrome, but the truth is that you are actually your own greatest asset. Don’t get stuck in imitation mode—you will only hold yourself back.

Do your own unique thing, whatever that is. Gaiman always says: “There’s nobody who can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can.”

3Don’t Obsess Over Your First Draft

For me, it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important.

One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter. No one is ever going to see your first draft. Nobody cares about your first draft. And that’s the thing that you may be agonizing over, but honestly, whatever you’re doing can be fixed. …

For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it.

Writing your first draft can be intimidating, terrifying, and often embarrassing. You may feel like there’s a gulf between where your writing is and where you want it to be.

This is all normal. The key is finding a way to press on despite your insecurities.

Gaiman writes his first drafts by hand because there’s less pressure—what he’s written isn’t “real” until he’s typed it up. Whatever you have to do to trick yourself into writing, do it.

4Make Mistakes

Any perfectionists in the room? The lure of playing it safe and the fear of falling short make a powerful and paralyzing cocktail.

Gaiman shares that the willingness to let go, take chances, and make mistakes is of the utmost importance. Why?

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

…Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

5Be Kind to Yourself

Writing is a skill and learning to write well doesn’t happen overnight, yet we beat ourselves up when our writing isn’t of the same caliber as our favorite authors.

We forget our heroes weren’t always writing bestsellers. Gaiman himself has had the frightening experience of unearthing a story he wrote at age twenty and realizing just how awful it was.

When asked how to get past loathing your own work, Gaiman answered this way:

Write more. And remember that everyone who writes anything good wrote a lot of bad stuff first. You are learning, be kind to yourself, just as you would be kind to anyone learning to do something hard, like juggling or ballroom dancing or surgery.

Learn from your mistakes, and get better, and one day you’ll write something you won’t loathe. (Also, it’s fine to dislike something you’ve written. But don’t dislike yourself for having made it.)

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6 Wonderful Tips on How to Catch Up on Emails After a Vacation

Inbox dread is real.

The last time I took a vacation, I almost didn’t want to leave for fear of what my inbox would look like when I got back. (Hint: it wasn’t pretty.) There’s nothing more groan-inducing on your first day back at work than opening your email client to see you have 1,487 emails waiting.

I’ve worked in jobs where getting a flurry of daily email was the norm, which meant that being away for a week resulted in a digital avalanche. Here’s how I prepared and then dug out.

1 Set up an out-of-office message before you leave.

Having a vacation auto-responder won’t cut down on the number of people who contact you, but it will cut down on the number of follow-ups they send. It’s also good form to let people know when you’re not able to answer them.

Your out-of-office message can be simple. Just let people know you’re unavailable, when you’ll return, and who they should contact with any urgent needs while you’re gone. If you’d like to have a little more fun with your message, here are some options.

Here’s a tip: Some people include a vacation clause in their out-of-office message to warn people that they may miss messages due to an overflowing inbox upon their return. Here’s an example:

I expect my inbox to be bursting at the seams when I return. I’ll do my best to get back to you, but if I should happen to miss your message, please do me the courtesy of following up after [date].

2 Weed out the advertising and other unnecessary stuff first.

When I return to my Gmail inbox to find a gazillion emails waiting, the first thing I do is weed out the junk mail. Advertising, of course, is the first to go. But when you’re trying to get back to inbox zero, even the newsletters you’ve subscribed to can get in your way.

Gmail’s tabs system is handy. When my email messages are already pre-sorted, I can go through the social and promotions tabs quickly and eliminate most of those emails right off the bat by selecting them all, skimming the subject lines to make sure nothing looks important, and then hitting archive or delete.

3 Use filters for high-priority senders.

There are likely a few people on your contact list whose emails you don’t want to miss. I have a Gmail folder called Priority Senders where I store important messages that need more immediate action.

You can use filters to have messages auto-sort to this folder, which is what I do when I’m out of my office for a while. Then, when I get back, I know what to tackle first.

Here’s a tip: If you’d rather not set up filters for your priority senders, you can simply sort your inbox by sender. This will help you quickly identify the messages you’ve received from people you need to respond to ASAP and separate them from the rest of your inbox clutter.

You can also filter retroactively by moving messages to the Priority Senders folder for safekeeping while you sort the rest of your inbox.

4 Make a catch-up folder.

Now that you’ve sorted your high priority email into a separate folder, you can deal with the rest . . . by putting it off. At least temporarily.

Staring at an overflowing inbox on your first day back in the office can bring on enough stress to undo the relaxing effects of your vacation. An empty inbox, however, is bliss! This solution may feel like cheating, but trust me, it’s a great way to alleviate the strain of having hundreds of emails to process and no time to process them.

Create a catch-up folder. It’s as simple as that. You can name it whatever you like, from “Email to Process” to “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” Then, simply Select All and move your vacation email into the catch-up folder. It’ll be out of sight, and instead of feeling like your inbox is a bottomless pit from which you’ll never emerge, you’ll be able to venture into your virtual storage room and sort through those less important emails whenever you have time to spare.

Here’s a tip: Consider putting the inbox zero method into effect before you leave for vacation. Practicing this efficient sorting technique requires a little setup, but once it’s in place it will make your email life infinitely easier.

Odds are good that if you’ve already sorted high priority email messages, nothing in your catch-up folder will be of critical importance. If you’ve accidentally missed something significant (hey, it happens to the best of us) you’re sure to get a follow-up email, at which time you can deal with the issue. If any email remains in your catch-up folder after a month, it’s probably safe to delete or archive it.

5 Practice “last in, first out.”

By now, your inbox should be looking slightly less overwhelming. It’s time to deal with the higher priority messages. Taking a “last in, first out” approach can help.

Some of the email you’ve received has already sorted itself out while you were away. When you read the most recent email first, you can quickly figure out what needs immediate attention and what you can filter into your catch-up folder for later. So start digging into the most recent emails you’ve received, and remember . . .

6 Resist the urge to delay responses.

Once you’ve identified important emails, answer them. Like, now.

We’ve all been there. You’re staring at an email that absolutely needs a response, except that you lack the psychic energy to deal with it in the moment. The temptation to put off those types of emails is intense. Resist! Bothersome emails grow into more powerful monsters the longer you ignore them. When you start going through your urgent emails, make yourself a promise that you’ll deal with each one as you open it. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

With a little forethought and some organization, you can keep your inbox avalanche from burying you. Now, leave your office email alone until you return, and go enjoy that vacation. You’ve earned it!

The post 6 Wonderful Tips on How to Catch Up on Emails After a Vacation appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

from Grammarly Blog
https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-get-caught-up-on-emails/

5 Things to Avoid When Writing a Letter of Recommendation

So, you’ve been asked to write a letter of recommendation.

Aside from the immediate awkwardness of having to articulate how we think and feel about another person’s work, figuring out how to write a letter of recommendation often induces anxiety that a poorly written letter will weaken your contact’s chance at success.

Whether you are writing a letter for an employee, co-worker, or student, there are some essential Do’s and Don’ts for how to write an effective letter of recommendation. These basic guidelines will ensure that for whatever recommendation letter you are writing, you’ll be putting your best foot forward and doing right by the person requesting the recommendation.

Writing a Letter of Recommendation? Avoid These Five Common Mistakes

1Don’t forget to introduce yourself.

Do explain who you are and your relationship to the person you’re recommending.

In order for your recommendation letter to carry weight with the recipients, you need to provide context. Otherwise, your recommendation may as well have been written by a stranger.

At a minimum, you need to explain:

  • who you are
  • what your title is
  • how you know the person you’re recommending
  • what the nature of your relationship is/was with that person
  • how long you have known this person

2Don’t generalize.

Do adapt your recommendation to the job description and the job application.

If you agree to write a reference letter for someone, make sure you understand what it is you are recommending them for and that you are the best person to assess their abilities for that opportunity.

To this end, make sure you ask for and review:

  • the job description or education program
  • the applicant’s cover letter and resume or CV
  • any additional application materials that could help you understand how the applicant is positioning their skills

Even if the applicant cannot provide a job description—as in the case of applying to multiple jobs in a similar field or a LinkedIn recommendation—make sure you have a clear idea of kinds of positions or skills this person will be using. Be specific about how this person is the best fit for the job.

3Don’t exaggerate.

Do write positively and honestly.

When someone toots their own horn too loudly, people respond with skepticism, frustration, and sometimes hostility. The same slew of emotions are provoked when a well-meaning reference sings praises for someone else too enthusiastically.

To avoid misleading or triggering negativity, apply the same balance you would use in positive self-promotion to your letter of recommendation. Focus on honesty, positivity, and clarity rather than “the best ever” superlatives and “very helpful” intensifiers.

Here’s a tip: Rather than gloss over or ignore weaknesses of an amazing person, discuss the weakness openly—including how the person you’re recommending has learned from or overcome it.

4Don’t ignore formatting and editing.

Do format your letter professionally and remember to proofread.

Depending on the field, formatting can make or break one’s perceived professionalism. In general, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and keep it traditional. This means making sure that you format the heading and address the recipient correctly, then cover your bases in terms of content. The balance has a helpful template to guide you through the content of your letter.

Once you have the letter written, absolutely make time to proofread. If you don’t already have a proofreading routine in place, here are our best proofreading tips. If you are going to have a third-party review and edit the letter, for ethics purposes you should remove any mention of the person you are recommending.

5Don’t agree to write a recommendation you can’t give.

Do tell the person that you cannot write the recommendation or serve as a reference for them.

Yes, we know it’s awkward to tell someone you can’t write a reference letter for them, but it’s the right thing to do. Maybe you aren’t familiar enough with their work or you don’t feel like you can in good faith write a glowing recommendation. Either way, attempting to spin your perspective into an actual recommendation is dishonest. Give the person in question an opportunity to find someone who will happily write the reference for them.

What if they ask you why?

If you’re uncomfortable stating exactly why you cannot write the letter, here are some soft explanations that might fit your situation:

  • If you don’t know them well or are unimpressed with their work→ explain that you don’t feel like you know their work well enough to write the letter.
  • If you know them well but are unimpressed with their work→ explain that you don’t feel you are the best person to give them a recommendation and, if possible, suggest a better fit.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation Basics

In the end, writing an effective reference letter comes down to a few basics:

  • Being prepared.
  • Being honest.
  • Being clear.
  • Being professional
  • Being willing.

By approaching your letter-writing with these fundamental ideas in mind, you’ll deliver an effective reference without compromising yourself or the person you’re recommending.

The post 5 Things to Avoid When Writing a Letter of Recommendation appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

from Grammarly Blog
https://www.grammarly.com/blog/letter-of-recommendation/