Friday, 2 February 2007

Newsletter Issue 126, February 2007

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 126, February 2007
Hi guys,
Learn all about The Secrets of Multi-tasking below.
Check out the top ten 2006 Eco-Trends from trend-spotters, Springwise. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

The Secrets of Multi-tasking

Ron Knaus wrote an article for the American Management Association which was published in their newsletter last month, called "Secrets of Multitasking: Slow Down to Speed Up". He has kindly allowed me to reproduce it for all of you to share.
Today’s employees are under more stress than ever before. A recent Harris Interactive poll found that one-third of workers ages 25 to 39 feel burned out by their jobs. Additionally, doctors are seeing more stress-related illnesses than ever before, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, adult ADHD, backache, and migraines. In fact, primary care physicians report that between 70% and 90% of patient office visits are precipitated by underlying emotional stress.
So what is causing all of this turmoil? Over the past 10 years businesses have become lean, mean machines by reducing personnel and increasing the workload on those who remain on the job. An increased workload forces the worker into multitasking, which may be effective for a short period of time, but over the long term, causes excessive stress.
In the business world, multitasking is a must-have skill for any employee, yet most workers feel they are being asked to do too many tasks. Why do we see this disconnect between the workday realities and the workers’ perception? Because people have never learned exactly how to multitask. That’s right, multitasking is a learned skill. By learning how to multitask efficiently, you can dramatically reduce your workday stress, increase your productivity, and enjoy your work once again.
The Keys to Multitasking Success
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not about “piling on the work” to the point of exhaustion. It’s about training the brain to channel energy in an efficient and effective manner so you can accomplish more in less time. And believe it or not, one of the hallmarks of learning to multitask is to actually slow down to accomplish more.
Following are some techniques that will help you mentally slow down so you can finally learn how to multitask and master this essential business skill.
  • Practice how to multitask Whether you’re learning how to play the piano, use a computer program, or multitask, practice is essential to mastering the skill. Why? Because practice makes something seem routine, and when something is routine, it’s no longer stressful. Look at all the things you do in a day. Pick a few routine tasks to start with. As you master doing multiple routine things, then move on to slightly more difficult tasks. Gradually work up to the number of tasks you normally do. During this process, remember that learning takes time. Very often people jump into a new role or responsibility without gradually gearing up their workload. Then they wonder why they feel stressed and can’t multitask effectively. So if you want to do all the things you do each day in a more efficient manner with less stress, take a step back and teach your body and mind how to work up to the productivity level you desire.
  • Know when a task requires undivided attention Switching brain channels (focus) repeatedly actually reduces your memory recall. Think of your brain as a computer. If you are working within multiple programs and have numerous windows open on your screen so you can quickly jump from program to program, you may find that your computer has a higher tendency of locking up. That is, when you have fifteen windows open at once on your computer, and you attempt to pull up your word processing document, it’s not uncommon for your computer to run slowly or to totally freeze up, often causing you to lose all the data since your last “save.” The same thing happens in your brain. When you’re performing multiple tasks that require your undivided attention, your brain gets overloaded, as it can only process information from one channel at a time. Therefore, do not multitask if the assignment requires your full attention. Once that urgent or detailed task is complete, then you can go back to doing the other tasks you normally do. This step will save you lots of rework, as you’re more prone to make mistakes when your brain is overloaded.
  • Use a tool to help you multitask To avoid taxing your brain, write down items you can refer to quickly. For example, if you have a list of items you need to refer to often (such as pricing or shipping information or keyboard shortcuts) put the list next to your phone or computer for quick access. Not only will others think you are brilliant because of your amazing ability to rattle off information, but you won’t have to waste brain energy on such mundane information.
  • Allow your mind to reboot Shift multitasking to single tasking throughout the day to allow your mind to reboot. The human brain uses more energy than any other part of the body. As such, it needs constant replenishment. Rest is one of the key components to increasing personal energy and productivity. So every two to three hours, stop multitasking and allow yourself to do just one thing for fifteen to twenty minutes. At the end of this rest period, you’ll feel refreshed, alert, and ready to tackle more tasks—and you’ll do so with fewer mistakes than if you plowed through your tasks without this re-boot period.
  • Take a brain break Most employers offer their full-time staff a lunch break and two fifteen minute breaks throughout the day. Do you take yours? Most people do not, and as such, they’re not giving their mind a true break from the stresses of the day. Use break time to walk around the building, sit outside, or just close your eyes and meditate. Do whatever you like during these fifteen minutes to clear your head and give your brain a rest. If you really can’t afford a fifteen-minute break in your day, then turn off your mind as you walk to the water cooler or restroom. Give your mind some kind of total break from the workday tasks. To function at peak levels on a consistent basis, regular breaks are essential.
Do More with Less Stress
Multitasking is a part of our world. If you want to succeed, you need to learn how to multitask so it doesn’t overwhelm you and cause unnecessary stress. By simply slowing down and working up to the performance level you desire, you can multitask effectively and increase productivity. Simply put, learning how to maintain your highest level of mental functioning is your key to multitasking success.
Author Bio: "Dr. Ron" Knaus is a physician, psychiatrist, and sports medicine physician who works within both the medical profession and corporate world, helping people reach peak performance levels. For more information, contact

Springwise's 2006 Eco-Trends

Springwise and its global network of 8,000 'Springspotters' scan the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds from San Francisco to Singapore.
Based in the Netherlands, Springwise reports monthly on new trends, and has just released their retrospective eco-picks for 2006, which are:
  1. Hailing a hybrid: The Toyota Prius, the world's most popular hybrid car, emits half as much carbon dioxide as a traditional black cab does. This made it an obvious choice for greentomatocars, an environmentally friendly cab service in London that was launched on 1 March 2006 and was founded by two young ex-City lawyers. Hybrid cars have an electrical engine that takes over from the petrol engine when the car is moving slowly, which eliminates toxic fumes and noise.
  2. Consumer generated power: Until fairly recently, wind turbines were huge structures that were only available for commercial use in turbine parks or empty rural areas. No longer so. Consumers can now choose from various wind turbines for residential use. For GBP 25,000, consumers can purchase beautifully designed, 'elegant' wind power from Quiet Revolution.
  3. Household recycling plant: When discussing insperiences (the trend of bringing professional grade products and services into the domestic domain), one thinks of plush home cinemas and chef-worthy kitchens. An indoor recycling plant doesn't immediately spring to mind. But that could change with the arrival of the Ecopod. Created in partnership with BMW DesignWorksUSA, Ecopod's E1 Series is a household recycling center that aims to change the way consumers take out their trash.
  4. Green rentals: EV Rental Cars is the first US rental car company whose entire fleet consists of hybrid vehicles. The Los Angeles based firm doubled its fleet over the past two years, and now offers fuel-efficient wheels for rent in eight cities in the Western US through a partnership with Fox Rent A Car.
  5. Eco-chic entrepreneurs: Two stylish opportunities from the world of sustainable fashion: ECOIST Known as the candy wrapper handbags, Ecoist's bags (USD 28-58) are made from misprinted or discontinued snack bags, soda labels and candy wrappers. A family business based in Miami, the company believes that consumers should be able to enjoy a modern lifestyle, buying their favourite things, while also doing good to the Earth. Material that would otherwise end up in landfills is folded into straps and woven into bags and clutches by Mexican artisans.
  6. Innovative olive farmers: Following in the footsteps of vineyard sharing concepts like WineShare and St. Helena Winery's Adopt-A-Vine, Nudo lets customers adopt an olive tree. Founded by two former British television producers who decided to ditch the rat race for a farm in rural Italy, Nudo is an olive grove that offers trees for adoption.
  7. Retail approach to recycling: Whether ignorant or just plain lazy, plenty of consumers and businesses don't make the effort to recycle electronics. Which is why Green Citizen's drop-off center and pick-up service are great concepts – they make it convenient for people to recycle unused electronic equipment. In their own words: "we want to make recycling electronics so easy that you’ll make it a part of your everyday routine."
  8. Carbon offsets by sms: World Land Trust, which was founded in 1989 to preserve the world's most ecologically important and threatened lands, recently created a new way for concerned citizens to help the earth. The foundation now offers carbon offsets by sms/text message. Every time a consumer texts "WLT CARBON" to number 87050 (within the UK), World Land Trust will offset 140 kilograms of CO2 through its Carbon Balanced Program.
  9. Zen approach to cleaning industry: Looking to stand out in a lackluster industry? Learn from ZENhome Cleaning! This Brooklyn based home cleaning company, founded by a former model, changed hum-drum home cleaning into something special. The company only uses non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products, appealing both to ecologically aware consumers and people with allergies.
  10. Hot nightclub, minus global warming: Kicking off in Rotterdam's Off_Corso on October 14th is the Sustainable Dance Club. The kick-off party will feature biological beer on tap and fair-trade clothing brand Kuyichi helping clubbers customize their clothes. The end concept will go much further. Enviu, an environmental NGO for young people, is working together with architectural firm Döll to create a truly sustainable nightclub.
Read more on each of these stories on Springwise's site at

Combining Date Cells in Excel

Combining date cells with text cells in Excel can cause some problems, as not all date cells will be necessarily read as a serial date. Eg H5 contains text "Date" and cell I5 contains a date calculation formula. I5 is formatted as dd/mm/yyyy (date data type). If you combine these two cells with the formula "=(H5&I5)", the result will be a serial date (eg 39054).
This is because Excel ignores the formatting of I5.
So you need to convert I5's date data type to text as a first step. If you convert I5 to text before adding the cells, Excel returns a correctly formatted date, "December 3, 2006" if you use the formula "=H5&TEXT(I5," mmmm d, yyyy")".
Wasn't that easy :-)

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you:
  • SFC, System File Checker or sfc.exe. You will often see references to scannow sfc in online newsgroups etc. This is a great tool for troubleshooting Windows XP problems.
Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we look at all you can do with just the left & right arrow keys:
  • Access "Move to the next field, or move one character to the right, or scroll to the right in small increments, or select a button on the record navigation toolbar when working in Access Page View or select the menu to the left or right; or, when a submenu is visible, to switch between the main menu and the submenu or in Print Preview and Layout Preview, scroll to the right in small increments or extend a selection to adjacent fields in the same row in Datasheet view" Right Arrow
  • Excel "Move one character left or right within a field or cell or scroll one column left or right (with Scroll Lock on) or select the field button to the left or right in a multicolumn field button list in PivotTables or Select the menu to the left or right or, with a submenu visible, switch between the main menu and the submenu" Left Arrow Or Right Arrow
  • Excel "Select the menu to the left or right or, when a submenu is visible, to switch between the main menu and submenu (step 3 in laying out a PivotTable or PivotChart report)" Left Arrow Or Right Arrow
  • Excel "Select the Select Objects button on the Drawing toolbar (step 3 in selecting an embedded chart with drawing toolbar turned on) or select the next item within the group or on a chart" Right Arrow
  • PowerPoint "Move one character to the right or perform the next animation or advance to the next slide or select the menu to the right, or switch between a submenu and its main menu" Right Arrow
  • Publisher "Right one character, menu, icon or next tab in a group" Right Arrow Explorer "In Tree view, open a branch, or select the first item in the branch or select the first subfolder" Right Arrow
  • Windows "in dialog boxes with the slide out option, select the next highest setting" Right Arrow
  • Word "Move one character to the right or with a menu open, select the menu to the right of the original; or, with a submenu visible, switches focus between the main menu and the submenu" Right Arrow

Hot Linx
Apparently the Greeks built an astronomical computer in 200BC - read about it on Hewlett Packard's research site at
For any of you who want a flash-back to the ancient past of the web, you can relive an early online chatroom experience at
And if you are wanting a look at some controversial artwork, Banksy's site online is the place for you at
This UK site shows how you can make your home greener - click the INFORMATION menu and select those items you want to view at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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