Friday, June 29, 2007

Writing To Get Their Attention – Five Suggestions

Do you wonder whether your audience actually reads what you write? How often do you glance at an article title or first sentence and just skip reading it? Or read something very quickly just to get to the bottom line?

We have become a scanning society. With the abundance of information in hard copy as well as on the web, taking time to read something thoroughly doesn’t happen often. No matter how many good things we have to say, if we don’t present it properly, it will be overlooked.

Today’s readers tend to be distracted, disengaged, disenchanted and busy! How can you get them to slow down and focus on what you’ve written?

Five suggestions that really help to draw in your reader are:

  • Make it about them
  • Write at an appropriate reading level
  • Include visuals
  • Tell a story
  • Simplify


Start writing with a question that relates to them specifically. In order for you to hook your reader there has to be some connection between their life experience and interests and what you have to say.

As you’re writing, if you want them to connect with you, it’s important that it is really you speaking in the words. If you write like you talk, your reader will be more apt to listen.


How tempting it is to write using all of our wonderful vocabulary and beautiful sentences! Have you stopped to consider what the reading skills and interest of your audience are? The average American reads at a ninth grade reading level. Ernest Hemingway actually wrote his books at a fourth grade reading level! Ads and marketing materials for consumer products is done at a seventh grade level. The New Yorker is written at a 10th grade level.

One’s reading level does not correlate directly to educational background. It also depends on how extensively a person reads on a regular basis. Oh, if you’re wondering about your own reading level, you can check it out at


Visuals are important in keeping the reader’s attention. This is particularly true of anyone under the age of 32 because of the type of reading materials they’ve had growing up. The more complicated the writing is, the more visuals are needed.

Visuals include color, icons, charts, graphs, and tables Clip art, illustrations, and maps also add interest.


People like to be entertained more than being lectured. My guess is that you still remember stories years after you’ve heard them. That experience of hearing a story really draws people together.

Stories can convey a message in a subtle and indirect way that can make a huge impact. They allow our emotions to be expressed in a less vulnerable way when we’re talking through a story.


“If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.” Mark Twain

Mark Twain certainly expressed it well! It can definitely be more difficult to write something in a succinct way than to go on and on with many words.

Keep what you’re writing short. Short words, arranged in brief sentences, paragraphs, and sections will hold your reader’s interest as they scan what you’ve written. The average USA Today article is 300 words.

Boil down your message to its essence. Choose one concept that you really want your reading audience to know. Illustrate and explain everything so that nothing is puzzling to the reader.

What is the one concept you want to get across to your reader? If you are working to clarify your message, it might help to work with a coach. Visit for resources of interest to the businessperson looking to create a Healthy Bottom Line plus quality time for your family and fun.Contact Suzanne Holman, MAEd at, your exuberant productivity coach.

Perfectionism - Not So Perfect

If you find yourself being super critical of yourself, you are probably a perfectionist.
You may even be proud of the fact that you are a perfectionist.

Is perfectionism a good thing? Let’s take a look at some of the imperfect parts of perfectionism.

Being a perfectionist is one of the biggest causes of procrastination. If you find yourself putting off starting a job, notice what your expectations are of yourself. If you feel as though you have to figure out the perfect way for completion, you will probably delay the start for quite awhile. Be honest with yourself about what you’re really doing with your time and energy. Why are you setting the standard so high that you can’t even start?

Being a perfectionist makes it difficult to be authentic with yourself and others. If nothing but perfect is OK with you, how can you be transparent with others about something that you consider to be less than perfect? No one and nothing is absolutely perfect. Being OK with something not complete or not perfect in yourself and others allow much more connection in your life.

Being a perfectionist can make it difficult to be around you. Not only are perfectionists hard on themselves, they can be hypercritical of others around them. With focus on even the tiniest details and intolerance of anything that has any flaws, how could anyone be comfortable submitting work or being observed by you? Mistakes are just a part of being human. It’s time to cut yourself and others some slack.

Being a perfectionist doesn’t allow you to have the practice it takes to actually get closer to perfection! It is only with practice and more practice that we can improve on our previous performances. When there is so much hesitation to get started, the practice just doesn’t happen often enough. Decisions always have some degree of uncertainty and to be a good leader it requires getting comfortable enough with those unknowns to take action.

Being a perfectionist can cause you to make everything of equal importance. There are some situations that cannot tolerate even the slightest degree of error. There are many other decisions in life that really don’t have a huge impact on anyone’s safety and can benefit from the forward motion of a decision made and carried through with correcting in the process.

Being a perfectionist and working long hours doesn’t always reflect well on your abilities. Why are you needing to work longer and harder than everyone else? Are you not as intelligent? Is your productivity less than it could be? Are you focusing so hard on the details that you are getting buried in them? While you may have thought that it looked good that you were so “dedicated” to your work, you may actually look just a bit desperate!

It’s time to look at your situation honestly and notice what your patterns are. Think about what kind of standards you have and if they are really serving anyone. Perfectionism has not created many happy and success people. In many cases it has made people isolated, unsuccessful and miserable.
When you can ease up on the stringent demand for detailed perfection, you will notice more of your energy and creativity coming alive. With that passion comes the kind of significant impact you can have on those around you and the work you accomplish.

What could you accomplish if you freed up more of your creative passion? Check out the resources at that can help you achieve a healthy bottom line plus quality time. Contact Suzanne Holman, MAEd, the Exuberant Productivity Coach at .

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fathers' Day!

Fathers’ Day! What a wonderful day for you to recognize your father and any special fathers in your life! Make it a special day for these men who often don’t take time for themselves.

Celebrating Fathers’ Day in my life now means acknowledging family members who are fathers and cherishing fond memories of my own father.

Dad weighed only four pounds when he was born. This was in rural Vermont with minimal medical support. He was the eighth of nine children. His father was a rural letter carrier who sometimes delivered mail in the snowy weather with original horse power rather than mechanical horsepower.

Even with Dad’s mother dying while he was in high school, he went on to graduate and received a scholarship to Colorado School of Mines and became a metallurgical engineer. His life work was in the steel industry ending as the president of a steel corporation before retiring.

Dad was an amazing leader and probably the most humble, down-to-earth person I’ve ever known. He showed total respect for every person he met, no matter what their occupation or social status. Dad died in 1998 after suffering from cancer. I still feel him sitting on my shoulder, offering support as I go through challenging projects at home or in my business.

Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Men, Minimize Your Stress - 3 Simple Ways

Why are some men so happy and others are so miserable?
Why do some men seem so grateful for the gift of their life and others just take things for granted?
Why do some men go through their lives rolling with the punches and others react to very similar circumstances in very negative ways?

Richard Carlson, author of a number of books, wrote Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff for Men: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress in a Competitive World. This book is filled with short chapters of ideas to bring about a smoother life for men. I’m sharing with you some of the wisdom I found most insightful.


Yes, have an affair – with life! When you can recognize the miracle of life, you begin to attach great value to those everyday moments that can be so easily overlooked. For some of us, it takes a life-threatening event to shake us to this realization. Don’t wait! Have your affair now!

All the people in your world start to take on more importance, whether you are buying groceries or getting your oil changed. You appreciate little conveniences more.

When your priorities are in order, you can become less demanding of others – and yourself.


It seems to be part of the “job description” of being a man to need to know all the answers and have a response immediately. What pressure that can be!

Blurting out an immediate response without giving yourself time to think about it can create more problems. You may find yourself committing to more than you can handle or giving an inaccurate answer.

Just acknowledging that you don’t have an answer or solution yet, can have great advantages: eases the tension, clears your mind, releases worry, and opens the door for wisdom to surface.


When everything seems to be closing in on you and your workday never ends, your first thought may be, “I need a vacation!” That’s great, but what happens when you get back to the office?

First of all, just being away has a way of flooding you with extra work to do when you return. It’s great that you gave yourself a break, but here you are again, buried in work.

Maybe it’s time to really look around at the clutter in your schedule. Yes, clutter. Just as we collect papers or knickknacks, we can collect random tasks that we never should have taken on for ourselves. They could very well be completed by someone else, but you just haven’t taken the time to delegate. Or they may be processes that could just as well be pitched.

It’s basically the same process as when we go through stuff to declutter. There are some things we’ll keep. There are some to give away to others. And then there are some that are ready to go in the garbage.

Decluttering your schedule can certainly lower your stress level!

Is it time for you to declutter your schedule for a healthier bottom line? Get some support and great resources at Contact for a coach who knows how to increase your exuberant productivity!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Enough Already!

ENOUGH OR NOT ENOUGH? That is the question.

Every thought you have falls into one of two streams of energy: "enough" or "not enough".

The more you observe and affirm "enough", the more "enough" you have. The more you observe and affirm "not enough", the more "not enough" you have.

Your contentment around wealth does not really focus on external events. It is more about the vision you're using to view your life. You have the power to be rich right where you are. It is your choice.

You might be saying, "Right. My choice?"
"How can I feel wealthy when I am struggling with bills and buried in debt?"

Money is just one thin slice of prosperity. If you are struggling with money, turn your focus toward other forms of abundance that are already present in your life. This is a critical process because to build a wealthy bank account, you must first build a wealthy mind.

Let's look at some other aspects of your life where you may already be wealthy:

* Good health
* Beauty of nature around you
* Rewarding friendships
* Loving family
* Creativity
* Strong spiritual source
* Stimulating ideas
* Kindness of people you meet

You may realize that you are richer than many people with a lot of money because you are giving your attention to wealth rather than need. You have appreciation for the great aspects of your life.

Many people with a lot of money rely on it so much for their happiness, that they only focus on how to make more money and what else they want to buy to make them happy. This process can be never ending and only leads to disappointment when the acquisition of more money and things do not fill the emptiness in their lives.

I've always like something that Oprah once said, "Acquiring wealth makes people more of who they are." Those who appreciated what they had before becoming wealthy, could receive the wealth comfortably, investing, sharing, and enjoying their wealth. Those who did not have a positive attitude toward what they had before becoming wealthy, often lost their wealth as quickly as they obtained it.

It's not what you have but how you are seeing it.

There is a Bible verse that speaks to this. "To him that hath, more shall be given; to him that hath not, more shall be taken away." This is not unfairly saying that the rich should get richer and the poor get poorer. What it is saying is that it is how you are seeing what you have that makes the difference. If you are focusing on what you do not have, you will attract more lack. With a focus on what you do have, you will attract more wealth in all areas of your life.

We've all heard stories of people winning the lottery and how that affects their lives. Some people lose the money just as quickly as they won it.

You have the freedom to create your experience with how you choose your thoughts.

Does peace and contentment with your life mean that you must stop where you are and never desire more? One way to describe an attitude of contentment is "happy and hungry".

You certainly appreciate what you have while also enjoying the wonderful adventure of expanding your world. Growth and improvement are part of life. As you stretch and strive for more, it is not showing that you are greedy. To live with some sense of inner peace, we cannot be looking to GET to perfection. Perfection is an attitude that you can enjoy as you go through the process of moving forward in your life.

Yes, there is always a next level of good beyond the good right where you are now.
Bloom fully where you are planted and you can still fully reach for more.

Are you ready to look for how you want to expand your prosperity?
Check out the resources on for ways to support you in this process.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Messiness Has Hidden Benefits

Mess. Clutter. Disorder. We've all learned that these are bad. We should avoid them at all costs. Children's rooms should not have toys all around them. Office desks need to be organized and not too personalized. Lawns need to be well groomed to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.

Who decided this? Is it really better to be organized and structured than to have free flow and flexibility?

In "A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder", Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman describe a number of benefits of mess. Those people with stacked desks may actually have a better system of prioritizing than those with tickler files and folders. They've gotten used to where the higher priority items are located and easily locate them.

People who vary their easy-to-change habits can break out of habit webs that make it difficult for them to be creative. Going home a different route or getting ready for work in a different sequence are examples of habits that could be varied.

Noise can be a form of mess. Phone communication has always had the challenge of sounds on the line. With the improvement of cell phones, background noise was eliminated to the point that the quiet was actually a problem. They now add background noise to cell phones and call it comfort noise. It is a comfort to people to hear some background noise so that they know they are connected. It also disguises voice echoes that show up when there is no background noise. Frederic Bourget, Senior Product Manager of Octasic Corporation created the CN, comfort noise.

According to Abrahamson and Freedman, there are specifically six key benefits to messiness:


With messy systems, change can occur more easily in a wider variety of ways than the more rigid neat systems. Neatness does not respond well to changing demands and unexpected events.


Messy systems tend to keep more of the diversity of elements. Neat systems often eliminate useful and even critical elements.


Mess contributes to having a system harmonize with its environment, receiving helpful information. Neatness can insulate a system from environmental cues.


Mess allows system elements to more randomly move about, leading to new solutions. Neatness can limit novel and unexpected elements to be present. Chefs often prefer to work in the midst of a spread of ingredients and tools in order to come up with new food combinations and techniques.


Messy systems can accomplish goals using fewer resources and can often have the support of those in the outside world. Being neat keeps the burden of the work trapped in the system and requires constant use of resources.


Because mess loosely weaves various elements, messy systems can be more resistant6 to destruction, failure, and imitation. Neat systems can have very definite strong and weak points, causing them to be brittle, easily disrupted, and copied.

Did you ever think there could be so many advantages to being messy?

Just as with so many things in life, there just isn't an easy answer to what is the best way to organize. You can see that productivity is not dependent on one method.

If you'd like some support to improve YOUR productivity, it's time to check out the resources at
Contact Suzanne Holman, MAEd, the Exuberant Productivity Coach!

How Important Is Your Urgent?

How often do you hear the phone ringing and NOT answer it?

Because the phone ring is so intrusive, we tend to treat phone calls coming in as urgent and answer. In fact, the call may be of little or no importance and only serves to get us off tract from working on what really is important. With caller ID now available, it can give us more control of whether we want to answer the call depending who is calling.

Stephen Covey, author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", clarifies the distinctions of activities that are urgent-unimportant, urgent-important, not urgent-important, and not urgent-not important. He puts these into a grid that gives a clear visual of the four categories of tasks.

Urgent items are deadline based. They are often associated with the achievement of someone else's goals. The "squeaky wheel gets the grease" is an expression that describes urgent issues. Urgent matters can also be an uncomfortable problem or situation needing immediate resolution.

Most items in the urgent-important category are crises. Some of this intensity can be avoided by better planning and taking care of the important items before the timing puts them into the urgent category as well. Critical activities that support your goals and have a looming deadline certainly go into this category of urgent-important.

There can be activities that are very important that can be overlooked because there is no one pushing for their completion. Those problems relating to the business team or products/services being developed can be much more visible than the very important relationships with current or potential customers. Marketing efforts need to be consistent in order for there to be sales on a regular basis. These efforts definitely fall into that important category, but without a definite deadline, they can be overlooked.

For good time management and goal achievement, the focus must be on things that are important and not just urgent. In order to avoid the struggle of having too many critical deadlines, you must distinguish clearly between what is urgent and what is important.

Here's a real simplification of the difference:

IMPORTANT activities: the outcome leads to the achievement of your goals

URGENT activities: demand immediate attention

What can be a real time and energy saver is identifying the tasks that are NEITHER important nor urgent. These trivial activities need to be ignored or delegated. What happens too often is that we may use our valuable time and energy just to get them out of the way.

For our work to be effective as well as efficient, it is important that we determine the priority of the tasks before us. When we have a clear picture of this, there is much less struggle in our daily activities since we can avoid the push-pull of those urgent-unimportant tasks popping up in front of us, luring us away from our productive day!

There can be activities that are very important that can be overlooked because there is no one pushing for their completion. It is critical that you not let what seems urgent to take all of your attention.

What's luring you away from your full engagement and outstanding achievement?
Are you ready to get yourself on track to your goals?
Resources are available at
Contact Suzanne Holman, MAEd, the Exuberant Productivity Coach.

Monday, June 4, 2007

What You Think of Me Is None of My Business!

How often do you hold your tongue and not speak the truth of what you are thinking?

What do you love doing that you haven't done in a long time?

Does your creativity get shoved into the box of what you think will please others?

If so, you may be letting your fear of criticism rule your life. This is one of the key sources of struggle people face. It is easy to try to please everyone all the time.

We tend to moderate our words, our actions, and look over our shoulder to see who's watching. Actually pleasing everyone all the time is actually a losing battle!

When we're caught up with what we're supposed to do we tend to stifle our energy and enthusiasm for whatever project we're pursuing. When we trust our actions and choices, we see that everything gets easier and we're in the flow of the work. There is more consistent energy. Our energy is not bolstered when others applaud us and deflated when others have a negative reaction to what we've said or done.

This is contrary to how many of us were raised. We were supposed to listen to how things were to be done and do our best to copy that. There was a right and wrong way for every project to be completed. Rarely were our personality styles considered as to what method would work best for us to approach any situation.

Terry Cole-Whitaker wrote the book titled, What You Think Of Me Is None Of My Business. I remember when I first heard this title. Over the years it has come to mean more to me as I've realized the peace that can come from letting go of need for love and approval for everything I do.

Is this selfish to put our OWN approval above others' approval? This may have been the message of our childhood. When we have healthy self-love we are able to be comfortable with what we are doing and are able to accept that others may have their own way to complete a task as well. Our self-care is essential for us to be a fully engaged individual in any situation, whether it is a personal relationship or a business project.


It first takes the decision that you are going to live life for yourself. This isn't to say you are not being considerate of others. On the contrary, you will value and respect them more than ever.

Then make a conscious effort to speak the truth, no matter what. How often to we filter our words carefully to avoid offending anyone? This only makes connecting more difficult and awkward. It is really pretty obvious when a person is not being authentic. You are not doing anyone a favor by not being real.

This process will not happen in just a few leaps and bounds. Small steps are the most effective way to make any change. You have to be comfortable with what you are doing to have this be a smooth process.

Give yourself a moment before speaking to check how authentically you are about to respond. Speaking the truth does not mean that you have to fully disclose all of your thoughts. That isn't necessary. Healthy boundaries for your privacy are appropriate.
And, realize that some people in your life may not be comfortable with your honesty. They are probably not people who are adding positive energy to you anyway.

How would your life be different if you were living congruently with your ideas and values?
How would your relationships be enriched by being all of who you are?
How would your productivity be affected?

What would it mean to your bottom line to be more aware of yourself and how you relate to others?
Developing your communication skills by working with a coach can be very effective in creasing your productivity. Check out the resources and services offered by Suzanne Holman, MAEd, Exuberant Productivity Coach, found at

Mind Mapping Yourself Into Focus

Mind mapping can seem like such a disorderly process. You pull out a big sheet of paper, get the markers rounded up, and start writing, drawing circles and lines in
all directions. How can this help with focus?

Lack of focus is one of the key sources of struggle for most people. Sometimes it takes thinking "out of the box" to get some direction. Have you been avoiding the "hard stuff" and keeping busy with the routine tasks? Has not being sure of what to do next kept you stuck at the starting line?

Perhaps you feel pulled back and forth by stimuli in many directions. This could be caused by emails and phone calls coming in from people with other priorities. They want your input and they want it now! In an office setting you may have coworkers walking in to chat about work subjects or just their upcoming golf game. How do you decide where to focus your energy?

Are there too many ideas to implement all at once? How can you narrow it down to what you can manage?

There are a number of solutions to these challenges and today we are focusing on the mindmapping process.

Tony Buzan explains Mind mapping in his popular book, How To Mind Map: Make the most of your mind and learn how to create, organize, and plan. His book came out in 2002, but he wasn't the first to use this type of organizing. The Greeks developed many systems to organize and recall facts, using imagination and association. Imagination and association are two keys factors for why mind mapping works so well to organize and clarify your thinking.

Mind mapping gives you an overview, displaying large amounts of data in one place. You are able to see new creative pathways and integrating information. And a mind map is even enjoyable to look at and read.

Mind mapping recreates the way we were designed to think. We don't have outlines and structured charts in our brain. There are millions of connections going from one concept to another. These connections are what helps us to recall past learnings and integrate new ideas.

Although there are software programs for mind mapping on the computer, I prefer to use the tried and true method of a large sheet of paper and colorful markers. Once I start with a central core to an idea, I come up with lots of details going out from that core. These connect with other concepts that may give more understanding to that core idea. Then you can create connections for possible solutions to a problem.

What I find is that my thoughts then flow from these key "sentence starters". I find myself coming up with much fresher, more creative ideas than when I am trying to fit my thoughts into the linear outline form.

Would mind mapping be a help to you in getting your focus? I would enjoy sharing my experiences of mind mapping with you and develop strategies with you for your business using the process. You'll find me, Suzanne Holman, the Exuberant Productivity Coach on the web at I know you'll enjoy some of the other resources on my site to support you in creating a healthy bottom line plus quality time for family and FUN!
* 2007 Suzanne Holman, MAEd and Exuberant Productivity.Com