February 2010  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Write for Work is nearly here!

W4W preorder

Publication of Write for Work - a practical guide to workplace writing and grammar - is only days away. This work-text for one- or two-year degree programs uses the "Company" approach. Students start by profiling a company they would like to work for, and then they write as employees of that company. This means nursing students write about nursing and welding students about welding.

Pre-orders are now being taken on our Web site. We're also still sending out copies for review, so if you know any instructors at universities, community colleges, technical schools, or high schools, please forward this message to them and suggest they sign up to receive a review copy or call 1-800-261-0637 ext. 24.

"Writing is physical work. It's sweaty work. You just can't will yourself to become a good writer. You really have to work at it."

- Will Haygood

Word Pair of the Month: appraise, apprise

What a difference one little letter can make! Take the "a" out of "appraise," which means "to assess or figure out something's worth," and you get "apprise," which means "to advise or inform." Here's a little tip for remembering the difference: The word "raise" appears in "appraise," while "apprise" contains the word "rise." You may be able to "raise" the worth of an item, but you can't "rise" it.

February Writer's Forum Question

In this world of multitasking and snowballing activity, how do you stay organized? We're always looking for new ways to be more organized and productive. Give us your best tip for juggling that endless list of duties. Or share a funny story about a past snafu that forced you to finally get organized.

Of course, technology was high on the list of helpful tools, and a large number of our respondents listed PDA's and various software programs as helpful ways to keep organized. But we found a lot of people still use the old pen-to-paper techniques, and we thought we'd share some of those with you.

Vivien Yoshoko-Cooper, an administrative assistant in the City of Angels, uses an old-fashioned yet effective method: the desk calendar.

I have one of those huge desk blotters with this month's calendar on it. Everything gets written on that - and I mean everything, personal or work related. I have to do this - I practically live at that desk, and if I don't have everything in front of me, I lose it. I've learned two things about using this method, however. First, I don't put the calendar down on the top of the desk, but I lean it up against the wall behind my computer. If it's lying down, it's too easy to cover or spill coffee or something on it and make a real mess of both the calendar and my month! Also, I use different colors for different categories - family activities are in red, work stuff is in black, and other things, like medical appointments or bill deadlines, are in blue. On Mondays, I just have to remember to enter personal stuff that I planned over the weekend. Hey, it works for me!

Chad Kendrick, who manages an off-Broadway theater in New York, has to handle a wide variety of projects.

I run what is basically a one-man office and have to keep track of everything from budget to press release deadlines to deliveries to ticket sales. I keep a large ring binder with a divider for each area I cover, as well as for each show. Each section has a manila folder for loose papers, several loose-leaf pages for notes, and a balance sheet. This way I am able to add information as I get it, organize billings and receipts, and pinpoint what has happened and is happening in any area on any given day. I also keep a computerized spreadsheet for finalizing all these things, and every so often I copy my handwritten stuff into the computer. But I spend a lot of time out of the office, either in the theater or out in the community, and I don't always have the chance to enter things as they happen. I find the actual in-hand folder is extremely helpful.

Sandi Esposito of Dallas tries to segment her day with an actual signal.

It may sound annoying, but I set my watch alarm for whenever I am supposed to shift my priorities during the day. For example, if I have a meeting at 9:00 and another at 1:00, I set my alarm first for a few minutes before 9:00. Then, when I shut that off, I reset it for a little before 1:00. Sometimes I end up setting my watch ten times a day, but it keeps me on track, and if I need to get away from talkative coworkers or clients, the little beep signals them as well as me and allows a graceful exit.

Alex Danovitch of Rockville, Maryland, also relies on a touchable reminder.

Post-it notes. That's my secret. I color-code them in order of importance and stick them along the bottom of my monitor, throwing them out when the task is finished.

Finally, Devon Smith of Knoxville, offers this sage comment:

I have learned that the best system in the world is no good unless you check it every day. You can have every minute accounted for neatly in your PDA, but if you don't look at it, it's like you marked down nothing at all.

A Final Thought

As the winter starts to wane, we all want to get out and gulp some fresh air. One good way to expand your lungs and your mind is to use your lunch hour wisely. Whether you live in a small town or a large city, there are lots of ways to spend an interesting hour. First check out places within walking distance or a brief ride from your workplace - an interesting museum, gallery, or shop. Is there a used-book store nearby? Spend some time browsing the old titles. Or check out vintage LP's or comic books. Maybe take a brief factory tour, or just relax in your local library. You may even find a class that fits into your schedule. Learn to speak Russian or throw a clay pot. Take a sandwich or some fruit for a mini-vacation. Just get away from your desk and return refreshed for a productive afternoon.

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Write for Business Blog

Insights from our writing staff. February posts so far include:

Staff Articles

Using the Right Word

Writing Rules


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Our newest book, Write for Work, is a practical guide to writing and communicating in the workplace. It's designed for students in 1- and 2-year degree programs or school-to-work programs. This flexible work-text provides extra support for students who've struggled with writing in the past.


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