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How to Write: Letter of Recommendation

12 Nov

How to Write: Letter of Resignation by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog The most important thing to keep in mind when writing a letter of recommendation is that you are writing to present new information; not to confirm information that is already available. Let’s go through some scenarios:

Recommendation Letters for Students

Many graduate-level education programs don’t highly consider recommendation letters that simply confirm information available in a student’s transcript. This means information like grades and test scores.

If your student has an A in your class, it’s best not to write something like:

“Student is very conscientious, arrives to class on time, has never missed a lesson and is 3 out of 67 students academically. He would be an excellent addition to your program.”

The above example is simply confirming what’s in the student’s transcript. One can easily tell this student is really good at being a student. But is that all they can do? Are they able to be anything else? The emphasis should be on their ability to apply their knowledge in the real world, and it should reference their enthusiasm and interest in whatever their course of study is.

Recommendation Letters for Employees & Interns

Your first step is to ask what the letter is for. Is this for another internship? If so, where? Or is this for admission into some sort of educational program? Your letter of recommendation will be more valuable if you are able to write it with an understanding of what its purpose is for.

Your letter should be concise and thorough. It’s actually OK to mention a weakness as long as you are emphasizing the positive. When mentioning a weakness like “She/he doesn’t always know when to ask for help,” be sure to end with a positive solution like “She/he doesn’t always know when to ask for help, but after we paired her/him with a senior-level manager to mentor them, we saw immense development of skills and ability. Their leadership skills grew as a result and their contribution to the team multiplied tenfold.”

A letter of recommendation for an employee is not a request to state that the employee showed up on time or did their job. It’s a request to understand more about the character and ability of the person. They want to know if this person is likely to persevere through difficulty, or give up. If they’re able to adjust to changes and adapt to new situations. If they can work with a wide range of personality types and still keep projects moving forward. They don’t want to hear that they took no sick days in 2012. They want to hear that the applicant is not only capable of working independently, but also able to ask if they’re unsure of something.

Recommendation Letters for Volunteers

A volunteer is special. They are giving up their most precious resource—time—to your cause or organization. Keeping that volunteer volunteering is vastly important. If they’re ready to move on from your organization, it’s your job to make sure they continue giving their time somewhere else. Volunteers are precious resources!

Writing letters of recommendation for volunteers should involve two things: statements about the volunteer’s character and information about your organization. Each organization or group that utilizes volunteer time is built differently. How your group is structured may not align with how another’s is. It’s important for the person reading the letters of recommendation to not only get a feel for the volunteer’s character, but also to understand the inner workings of your organization.

Recommendation Letters Are Not About You

It’s generally useful to provide a paragraph’s worth of information about yourself. How you know the person you are recommending and a little about how you interacted/worked with them. But that’s it. No need to get into specifics. The letter is about them, not about you.

How to Structure a Letter of Recommendation

Be formally concise. Your first paragraph is the statement of recommendation. Your second paragraph covers who you are and how you worked with the person being recommended. The next 1-3 paragraphs should each detail a specific example (all positive) of situations or events that clearly demonstrate certain aspects of the character of the person being recommended. Your final paragraph should serve to summarize: restate your strong recommendation on the basis of the person’s demonstrated strong character and positive attitude.

When NOT to Write a Letter of Recommendation

Simply, don’t write a recommendation letter for someone if you don’t mean it. You will waste their time and yours. If you need a way to decline writing a letter of recommendation, you can simply say that you do not have enough time to write an adequate letter.

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

How to Write: A Letter of Resignation

Staff Favorite: Moleskine Messenger Bag

6 Nov

Moleskine Messenger Bag on EuropeanPaper.com

A favorite of our CEO, Creative Designer, and Lead Programmer, among others, the Moleskine Messenger Bag brings the personality of the legendary notebook to the classic over-the-shoulder urban carryall. Robust and flexible piece to accompany your travels, whether near or far, the interior is lined in ivory faux-suede with a soft, luxurious feel, and also includes an “In case of loss” label sewn inside. A rear divider creates a separate back section; the front of the divider is covered in black terry fabric that attaches to Moleskine multi-purpose cases (sold separately). It can be used to carry any laptop computer with a screen size of up to 15-inch.

What’s your favorite carryall?

NEW from Palomino: Luxe Folio Cover + Sketchbook

31 Oct

Palomino Luxury Medium Sketchbook & Folio Cover (5 x 8.25) on EuropeanPaper.com

We’ve fallen head over heels for the new Palomino Luxury Medium Sketchbook & Folio Cover (5 x 8.25). It’s a fantastic, luxurious, and hip Folio Cover for Palomino sketchbooks that can be bought separate and inserted in the cover. The high quality, super soft faux leather cover also offers a place to store your writing tools, has a magnetic closure, and brings a strong presence to your office desk, in your briefcase or backpack, and at home.

  • Features holders for eight pencils (the Palomino Mixed Grade Graphite Set fits perfectly!), one eraser, and one sharpener.
  • Comes in a Palomino embossed gift box.
  • Easy to travel with to keep your essentials nearby.
  • Replaceable sketchbook has 96 acid-free pages of 120 gsm weight.

Learn Your Scales: Differentiating Between Pencil Graphite Grades

8 Oct

My students frequently ask me what the letters and numbers on the back of their pencils mean. The simple answer is that they refer to the graphite’s degree of hardness or softness. For this post I’ll write in general terms because many manufacturers use their own proprietary method of designation, and the letters can vary from company to company, and country to country. In America and in many European countries, the standard is that H designates a harder pencil, B designates a softer pencil, and an HB pencil is in the very middle of the spectrum of hard and soft.

Photo Courtesy of Leslie Herger for Pencil Grade Article for EuropeanPaper.com

Photo Courtesy of Less Herger

Most pencils that you buy for school or writing are usually an HB, even if that is not designated on their barrel. An HB pencil is very good for writing.  The lead sharpens quickly, and wears evenly, and is more difficult to break. In terms of pencil hardness, it’s middle-of-the-road. The coloration of the lead is that typical silvery gray color that comes to mind when you think of a pencil.

Stepping up the hardness a notch is an H pencil. These are a little bit harder than an HB pencil. When you apply the same pressure to an H and an HB pencil you will notice that the line of the H pencil is lighter than the HB pencil. Applying more pressure to the H pencil won’t make a darker line than an HB pencil.  An H pencil simply cannot lay down as much lead as a softer pencil. A 2H pencil makes an even lighter line.  Many brands of pencils have up to an 8H.  An 8H pencil produces a very light line, and wears at a very slow pace.

Why would one chose to use a harder pencil? A harder pencil wears more slowly than a softer pencil, the line doesn’t tend to smudge, but it erases with relative ease. The lighter line from a harder pencil is very useful to an artist who may want their initial sketch to disappear into their final media and not be seen or noticed. They are also a great choice if you want a pencil that writes smoothly but doesn’t smudge as easily as a softer pencil. One of the downsides to using a hard pencil is that it can leave an indent in the page if used with a lot of pressure.  This can make them more difficult to erase.

A grade B pencil is softer than an HB pencil. The lead tends to go onto the paper more smoothly and with less pressure. When more pressure is applied you can add a lot more graphite without gouging into the page. The B pencil is darker than the HB pencil. The B pencil is a useful tool for shading. A 2B pencil is even softer than the B pencil. Even less pressure is used to get darker areas of shading. Pencils can range up to an 8B or 9B in softness. An 8B pencil produces a very dark smooth line with very little pressure.

Photo Courtesy of Leslie Herger for Pencil Grade Article for EuropeanPaper.com

Photo Courtesy of Less Herger

Softer pencils are used by artists to get darker dark areas in drawings. If you are writing with softer pencils you will find you can write for a longer session with a B pencil as the graphite is smoother and takes less pressure to apply than an HB pencil. The trade-off is that the B pencil wears more quickly, requires more frequent sharpening, and smudges much more easily than the HB pencil.

Artists select their pencil types to best suit their individual artistic needs.  Watercolorists use a HB or H pencil with a light hand to allow them to lay down washes of color without the pencil interfering in the final piece. Someone using pencil as their main drawing tool might use 2H (hard) all the way up to 8B (soft) to avoid the glare that accompanies using heavy pressure with pencil.  An acrylic or oil painter, on the other hand, can use whatever pencil is handy or skip it for charcoal, which also comes in degrees of hardness and softness.  Either way, the paint will cover it up.

For fine detail work I use a KUM long point sharpener to bring my pencils to a long-wearing point that resists breakage. I find it works equally well on 2H all the way down to 6B pencils, which is not something I can say for every pencil sharpener.  If I’m going to be shading I’ll use a sharp craft knife to remove only the wood from my pencils.  I like to use a sharp H pencil to start my drawings, work very lightly, and then add additional areas of dark with progressively softer pencils. I discovered that process this process works for me through a lot of trial and error and experimentation over the years.

I encourage all of my students to play with their pencils, and get to know how they work. Through experimentation and time you’ll find a process of using the many grades of pencils that suit your individual artistic needs the best. Grab some pencils and a sketchbook and try them!

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Meet the Writer: Less Herger is the owner and writer behind ComfortableShoesStudio.com and co-founder of PutitonPaper.org. She’s been making art for as long as she can remember and can’t imagine a day without her pen and ink.

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How to Write: A Letter of Resignation

10 Sep

How to Write: Letter of Resignation by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com/BlogResigning from something – whether it’s a job or a volunteer position with a local non-profit – is an occasion that should be given some care and attention. In most cases, your letter of resignation will be kept on file permanently and is something that could potentially resurface in the future. Here are a few essential components to any good resignation letter and a few best practices as well.

1. Formatting

Format the resignation letter formally. If you use a word processor like Microsoft Word, you can use one of the pre-installed templates. There are several that will work; one in particular is called ‘Formal Letter.’ Use a heavier, decent paper when you print it off as well to add a more professional look.

2. Keep it Simple

There is no need to detail any specifics in a resignation letter. You might want to describe a situation or take time to write something a bit lengthier – don’t. Save that for your exit interview if you wish. If there is no exit interview, perhaps offering up those additional details would be better delivered in person verbally or through a thoughtful email. Ask yourself if anything more really needs to be said.

3. Include Basic Information

Make sure your full first and last name, current mailing address, date, the name of the company or organization you are resigning from, their address and your signature (in ink) are all listed in the letter.

4. List Your Resignation Date

It’s very important that you list the date your resignation will be effective. Whether you already told your employer in person is no matter, you need to have it in writing. If your employer has requirements for giving notice (the standard is two weeks), this letter will serve as proof that you gave enough notice.

5. Be Positive

Even if you are leaving on bad terms, it’s important to not be negative in your resignation letter. Imagine if a future employer saw this letter. Would they be left with a bad taste? If you are finding it hard to be positive, at the very least thank the company or the organization for the opportunity and leave it at that.

6. Offer to Help

Offer to assist in finding a replacement or to train your replacement. It’s important to show that you are a team player and are trying to avoid leaving the company in a lurch.

7. Clarify Final Duties

It is good practice to not only list your date of resignation, but to note that you need clarification on your final duties and any other final matters before you go. This helps the company or organization know that they need to figure out what is left as well. If you’ve already discussed your final duties and responsibilities, it would be appropriate to list those out in writing in your resignation letter.

Here’s the thing about resignation letters. You never know when – or how – you’ll cross paths with your former boss or coworkers in the future. The fact is, you may never, but the world is a very small place sometimes. If you leave anything in writing, make sure it’s positive and professional.

Below is a basic example of a resignation letter (click to enlarge). What experiences (positive or negative) have you had with resignation letters?

How to Write a Resignation Letter via EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

Moleskine Folio Series

25 Apr

The Moleskine Folio Book Collection represents the largest Moleskine journals dedicated to creativity, free expression, and design. In fact, they’re huge! The Folio Collection is available in A4 and A3 sizes, offering generous space to be filled with drawings, projects and writings.

Like the Moleskine Classic Journals, Moleskine Folio Books have a sewn binding, acid-free paper, rounded edges, elastic closure, cloth ribbon placeholder, and a rear expandable inner pocket.

All paper used in the Moleskine Folio Collection is certified as responsibly harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Moleskine Folio A4 Ruled Notebook

  • 8.5 x 12 inches
  • 176 pages (88 leaves)
  • Sewn binding
  • Back pocket & cloth ribbon marker
  • Elastic closure
  • Acid-free paper
  • FSC certified paper
Moleskine Folio A4 Ruled Notebook (12 x 8.5) on EuropeanPaper.com
Moleskine Folio A4 Ruled Notebook (12 x 8.5)

 

Moleskine Folio A3 Plain Notebook

  • 16.5 x 12 inches
  • 176 pages (88 leaves)
  • 100 g/m2 paper
  • Sewn binding
  • Back pocket & cloth ribbon marker
  • Elastic closure
  • Acid-free paper
  • FSC certified paper
Moleskine Folio A3 Plain Notebook (16.5 x 12) on EuropeanPaper.com
Moleskine Folio A3 Plain Notebook (16.5 x 12)

 

See all Moleskine’s A4 and A3 Folio Notebooks, and while you’re there, check out the Moleskine Folio Office Series. Post-it notes, binders, folders, and so much Moleskine love.

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

19 Apr

Writing thank you notes and get well soon cards are easy compared to ‘professional’ correspondence (also known as business correspondence). At least, most people would tell you this. Writing a quick thank you note to grandma is way less complex than writing to thank an interviewer for their time in interviewing you for a job you still hope to get.

Professional correspondence is different from personal correspondence in that personal correspondence refers to writing between family or friends while professional correspondence refers to writing between people who interact professionally (at least primarily). Imagine you have a colleague that works for a competitor. You both know each other and get along great and have met at a few lunch events. If you put that person on a ‘friend’ or ‘colleague’ scale, what side would weigh heavier? That is how you know where to write from; a personal zone or a professional zone.

However, written correspondence in a professional setting can be tricky. Here’s why:

  1. You may not know the person that well. For example, you don’t know if they would appreciate a more casual tone or a more formal tone.
  2. The occasion that is motivating you to write may not be a familiar one. Many of us sit through only a handful of job interviews a few times in life. Raises and promotions are also less common. What do you say in unfamiliar waters?
  3. You are writing because you know you should … and you don’t know what to say. You know you need to thank your boss for letting you leave two hours early every Friday, but what do you say beyond ‘thank you for letting me leave two hours early every Friday”?
  4. There’s pressure. You want everything to be perfect, but if you write something and it is taken the wrong way, or you spell something wrong, it’s hard not to let it gnaw at you afterward.

In professional cases, more often than not, you’ll find you need to write whether you’re looking for a job, have employment, or own a business. This means you should write after an interview; a promotion or raise; you find some potential new business and want to turn it into actual business; a client or colleague does something for you; or you gain a client or customer.

These are all examples of positive correspondence situations. Negative correspondence is another beast entirely and there are different guidelines there. An example of negative professional correspondence would be a letter of complaint.

My guidelines for positive professional correspondence:

  1. Use nice paper. No notebook paper here. You always want to make a good first impression right out of the envelope.
  2. Write as close to the ‘event’ as possible. For example, if you have a job interview in the morning on a Wednesday, your thank you note should be in the mail Thursday.
  3. Be your professional self. If you are very laid back, very relaxed, very casual and funny person, there’s no need to ‘hide’ any of that behind formal language. Be exactly who you are, but through a professional lens. For example, a colleague of mine is a complete class clown. He’s very adept at what he does for a living, too. His stationery of choice? Each beautifully engraved note card tells a classic joke. It’s his way of being himself, but professionally.
  4. It’s generally better to err on the side of more formal than casual. Imagine that you are the note’s recipient. How would you react?
  5. Better to write a little less than too much. When you write to someone you may not know very well, less is often more. Plus, the more you write, the more chance there is something can be misinterpreted or misunderstood.

Finally, how does one write what needs to be written? Your best bet is to write a few drafts on notebook paper first (save your good paper for when you know exactly what you’ll be writing). And as for what to write, the simplest formula is to start by stating why you are writing, explain what that means to you, and end on a positive, upbeat note. Once you get the words right, write them out neatly and slowly on your professional stationery.

Here’s an example of a note written to thank someone for an interview, but they don’t yet have the job:

I hope this How-To was helpful. Professional correspondence might be a new area for you or an old friend; either way, please leave your own advice and any questions in the comments!

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This is the second article in the How to Write series. Read the other here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

 

Get Organized: Take Charge of Your To-Do Lists

15 Mar

Are you a chronic compiler of sticky notes? Is your wallet stuffed with small scraps of paper? Do scrawl-covered napkins flutter around in your car? If that sounds like you, you might just be a to-do list hoarder.

To-do lists are good. Usually. They help us remember the innumerable tasks we have to tackle for work, home, committees, kids, and more. But if managing – or finding – your to-do lists takes over actually completing the tasks, your lists aren’t helping. Unless you organize or consolidate your responsibilities into a more streamlined system, you’re not being as efficient as you could be.

Here, based on personality types, are a handful of the best ways to organize to-do lists from various aspects of your life – and the products to facilitate your newfound sense of organization.

Separatist

If you strive to keep your professional life separate from your personal life, institute a system that encourages that separation. To help you compartmentalize your various roles and responsibilities, pick up a set of Moleskine Volant notebooks. Dedicate one to work and one to life, and clearly label the two notebooks so that you’re not tempted to grab whichever is closer.

Rhodia Spiralbound Square Reverse Book (8.25 x 8.25)

Rhodia Spiralbound Square Reverse Book (8.25 x 8.25)

Minimalist

Not everyone can achieve it, but if your goal is simplicity, consolidate all your to-do lists into one single notebook. The trick is to create a habit of always carrying that one notebook with you since everything will be housed together. A side spiral Rhodia will help you keep all your lists in one place. With a sturdy cover and side binding, a Rhodia can be taken in and out of your bag, tossed in your car, and lugged on an airplane and still keep your to-dos together.

Moleskine Classic Large Ruled Notebook (5 x 8.25)

Moleskine Classic Large Ruled Notebook (5 x 8.25)

Traditionalist

Those who love the Moleskine tradition may balk at the idea of replacing their do-it-all notebook for a different system. With a simple hack, convert your Moleskine into a to-do list organizer. Use your favorite size notebook, and divide it into sections for each task area, like work, life, home, goals, and so on. Tabs can be made from almost anything. For example, fold a small sticky tab in half, write the title on the edge, and tape it into place, or cut up expired gift cards for durable tabulating.

Clairefontaine Classic Extra Large Side Spiralbound Notebook (8.5 x 11)

Clairefontaine X Large Side Spiral Notebook (8.5 x 11)

Goal-Getter

For those with many goals, many tasks, and many to-dos, a large notebook is a must. The Clairefontaine Classic Extra Large Spiralbound Notepad is 8.5- by 11-inches, which gives you enough space to outline all your tasks and related notes. Plus, since the pages are perforated, you can tear them out to file as needed.

Multi-Tasking Mom

For the busy mom on the go, the Exacompta Exafolio Executive will keep all your lists organized in one place. Six file compartments accompany a notebook, which allows you to keep like items – errands, grocery lists, kid-related to-dos, and so on – together.

Whichever product you choose to manage your to-do lists, the ACME Sing Sing 4-Function Pen is the perfect complement to keep your organization streamlined. Instead of cramming multiple implements in your bag or notebook, this one piece has a stylus for your PDA, a pencil, a pen, and a highlighter for convenient note-jotting.

Whatever your personality, there’s a product that can help you organize that never-ending flow of to-dos. Now, if only there was a product to complete those to-dos for you!

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 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

1 Mar

Writers love to discuss writer’s block. Is it real or is it just fear? Is it a symptom of being creatively drained or of being undisciplined? Regardless of which side of the discussion you side with, there is one truth:  Whether you’re an avid journaler, a dedicated letter writer or a professional writer, we all get stuck once in a while. No matter how hard you try, sometimes those blinking cursors and blank pages stop us in our tracks. Next time you get stuck, try one (or all!) of these five tricks to overcome your block.

Tips for Writer's Block by Maggie Marton on EuropeanPaper.com

Obsess … With a Timer

It’s okay to fret about being stuck. It’s normal and healthy – as long as you don’t let it derail you completely. So spend a few minutes obsessing, but set a timer to keep you focused. Set the timer for nine minutes. Spend that time doing nothing but obsessing. Think about why you’re stuck. Is it the project? Do you have other, perhaps more important, tasks that you should do first? Let your mind wander. When that timer goes off, use one minute to refocus. Take a couple deep breaths, open a new window or flip to a new page, and start writing.

Dig Into Your Past (and Present and Future)

If you just can’t think of anything to write, start with your past. If you’re working on a daily journal entry, try to remember the names of your elementary school teachers and how they made you feel. If you’re struggling with a piece of fiction, start with the worst day you can possibly remember from when you were a child. Describe the people, the smells, the scenery. Apply those same principles to the present (how did I feel this morning during my commute?) and to the future (what is the best thing that could happen to me in the next five years?).

List, List, List

This is my go-to strategy anytime I feel stuck. Start a list. List anything: groceries, your friends’ names from junior high, things you’re grateful for, goals for the year, things you’d buy if you had a bottomless bank account. Get creative with your lists! Try your favorite books in alphabetical order or aim to list 101 of something.

Create Sentence “Starts”

On a sticky note or the back page of your journal, draft a handful of sentence “starts” that you can refer to when you get stuck. Some good options:

  • Nothing makes me happier than …
  • If I could change one thing about my family …
  • If I found a $50 bill on the sidewalk, I would …

Make a list of 10 to 20 that you can refer to whenever you feel blocked. Use it to start a journal entry or a piece of fiction.

Walk Away

This last-resort trick is for when you’ve tried everything but nothing’s working. Stand up, turn around, and walk away. Take your dog around the block. Make a cup of tea. Watch a daytime talk show. Sometimes the pressure can be too great, and when you’re focused on the fact that you’re stuck, it can be really difficult to find a way to get unstuck. Let your smarty-pants subconscious do the work for a while. The important thing here is to stay away from tasks that will keep you away from your work. Pick something short and something mindless (that laundry’s not going to fold itself) so that you don’t divert all your brainpower away from your writing. After a short break, do some stretches, take a couple deep breaths, and then get back to it.

Everyone gets stuck. In any creative project, it’s only normal. The difference between being successful and unsuccessful is to let a little block stop your progress!

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 Meet the Writer: Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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Live Your Life in Color: Paper and Color Theory

28 Feb

Leuchtturm Journals on EuropeanPaper.comHave you ever noticed how many restaurants use red? Next time you go out to eat, keep an eye out for how many establishments have red logos or signs, red-hued menus or table linens, and even red décor. It’s no coincidence: Psychologists have long recognized that red stimulates appetite.

Marketers and social scientists study colors and how they affect people across industries. The effects of each color have been studied and interpreted and are used as a common, subconscious way to sway a consumer. However, it’s not just for industry professionals; you can leverage the benefits of color theory, too!

Be Productive (or at least make others think you’re productive)

Choose blue. As you go about your workday, notice how many corporations use blue in their logos and on their websites. Most shades of blue convey trust and honesty. Light blue presents calm and focus, while darker shades of blue exude power – think of a navy suit. Consider painting your office your favorite shade of blue or, if you don’t get to choose your paint colors, add in blue accents with photos, desk accessories, or even a light blue journal (like the Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Ruled Journal).

Calm Those Shaky Nerves

Moleskine Volant Mini Ruled Notebook (Set of 2) (2.5 x 4) on EuropeanPaper.com

Moleskine Volant Mini Ruled Notebook (Set of 2)

Confrontations are part of business life. No one likes to deal with tense, stressful, or ugly meetings, but when you must, settle your nerves by taking minutes in a lavender Moleskine notebook. Lavender is known to be a calming color. You’ll help yourself feel a little more settled – and, who knows? It may rub off on your colleagues! And, since those Moleskine sets come with both lavender and purple, use the purple when you want to convey wisdom. Deeper purples, long considered royal colors, convey dignity, wealth, and success.

Snap Out of a Creative Funk

Whatever you do, skip brown! Brown has a reputation for being boring and just too practical. Instead, focus on bright cover colors. While a bright red could do the trick, your best bet might be a sunny yellow, which will help give you energy. To up your creative spark, take yellow Rite in Rain notebook outdoors to gather inspiration! (Read more about Rite in the Rain on our blog here.)

Convey Your Excitement

Demonstrate your enthusiasm for a new project or generate a little excitement with orange. Brighter orange shows a youthful, peppier optimism, while a darker-hued orange shows warmth. The Rhodia collection seems tailor-made for displaying bright, cheerful, excitement! Not an orange person? Consider a simple orange pencil from Rhodia instead of bigger splashes of the color.

Clairefontaine Basics Large Spiralbound Notebook With Pockets (6 x 8.25) on EuropeanPaper.com

Clairefontaine Basics Large Spiralbound Notebook with Pockets

Show Eco-Prowess

Convey to your colleagues that you are an all-natural, environmentally-conscious consumer with a green notebook. The color green evokes a down-to-earth vibe and symbolizes growth. However, green also is considered the color of envy and lack of experience – so choose a shade or hue that is found in nature, like muted tones, olive greens, or rich, leafy shades.

Control the Boardroom

In color theory, black is a neutral. Slick black is associated with power, elegance, and formality. Run meetings with a hardcover, black Moleskine to convey sophistication. Black also can be used to display a modern or traditional sensibility – so leverage black to enhance your natural style.

In the end, though, whether you select colors to help adjust your own mood or to subtly sway those around you, make sure you choose ones you like as well! If pink makes you happy, pick pink!

 

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 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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How to Take the Most Efficient (& Effective) Meeting Notes

19 Jan

Meetings take up a huge amount of our work schedules. While it sometimes seems like meetings are held only for the sake of meetings, the reality is that meetings are meant to keep projects on track. However, if the meeting participants aren’t capturing the salient points and important tasks during the meeting, all that time is wasted. Meetings are only as valuable as the action that comes out of them. To make sure you’re maximizing meeting time, focus on developing an effective note-taking system. Bonus: Taking notes keeps you from zoning out during long sessions.

To begin, choose a notebook that encourages clean note taking. A large, ruled, spiral-bound book like the Rhodia Meeting Book allows for the most efficient note taking. Plus, the pages are easy to tear out in case an unprepared colleague needs a sheet for his own notes.

How to Take Effective & Efficient Notes by Maggie Marton for EuropeanPaper.com

Click the image to shop notebooks on EPC.

It’s important to develop a consistent note-taking system that works for you. You don’t have to use an “official” method like, for instance, Cornell Notes, but it’s worth experimenting with different styles. Regardless, there are several steps you should take to make your meeting notes effective and efficient.

First, always notate the meeting specifics. Jot the date, start and end times, and attendees at the top of your page. This is especially important for a big project where questions can arise about who is responsible for – or who dropped the ball on – specific tasks.

Next, remember that it isn’t necessary to write down everything said during the meeting. Capture the significant points of each discussion and any supporting details. If tasks are delegated – especially to you! – capture the assignment, the due date, and the names of anyone else involved. Be sure that these tasks stand out on your page by marking them with a box or star or highlighting that line.

To speed up your note taking, abbreviate! Abbreviations are only useful if you remember what they actually mean, so until you’re accustomed to abbreviating your meeting notes, create a list of abbreviations you plan to use frequently. Here are a few common abbreviations to get your list started:

  • re = regarding
  • w/o = without
  • incl = including

Finally, the real test of effectiveness is what you do with your notes after the meeting. Meetings aren’t productive by themselves; the productivity comes from the action taken after the meeting. Meeting notes should be processed as soon as possible after the meeting so that crucial information isn’t lost. Type your notes and file them with the handwritten copy. Transfer all project timelines and tasks to your day planner. Enter any follow-up meetings into your planner or send out meeting requests for check-ins immediately after in order to keep everyone on schedule.

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 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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Choosing a Notebook: Top vs. Side Spiralbound

17 Jan

A Little Binding History

The spiralbound notebook is an object that everyone is familiar with, if only because it’s on school supply lists nearly everywhere. But it’s also quite popular in an office setting for the convenience of lying the spiralbound book flat, wrapping the pages 360-degrees around the book, and creating a professional look.

Spiral binding is also known as coil spring binding, which has existed since 1924. Back then, it was used primarily in office settings. Today, it is commonly used in schools and offices for reports, presentations, and other professional documents.

Spiral Binding Today

Coil binding machines use spring coils, also called spirals, which bind paper sheets together through a series of holes along the side of the paper. There are many options for coil binding machines, ranging from light-duty for home projects to heavy-duty for offices and manufacturers. The main options include the punch capacity (the number of sheets it can punch at one time), the binding capacity (the number of sheets it can bind at one time), and whether it is manual or electric.

Spiral binding is a three-step process: the pages are punched, the coil is inserted, then the ends of the metal or plastic coil are cut. While the light-duty punching systems are great for binding a school or work project at home, the heavier machines can punch and bind more sheets of paper at a time, allowing for faster production.

The amount of paper used is the main factor when selecting the type of material to bind your project. Some spiral binding coils are made from metal, whereas other types of coil binding are made from plastic. Metal coils are useful when you need extra durability or if you need to punch a large number of pages. Plastic coils may break easier than metal coils and this is something to keep in mind if you would like to start binding your own projects at home.  One benefit to the plastic springs is that you can get just about any color you need (i.e. they’re more than ideal for those who organize their projects or lifestyle via color).

Spiralbound Benefits

Many spiralbound notebooks today have a double wire binding to prevent snags plus perforated sheets for clean and easy tearing, so you won’t have little bits of paper falling out.  If you’re in the market for a new spiralbound, try these options:

The versatile notebook (top AND side spiralbound): The Rhodia Spiralbound Reverse Notepad can be used horizontally and vertically, making it an accessible choice for everyone. This one is a favorite with artists. It can also be used and flipped around when the table space you have to write on isn’t big enough to accommodate the horizontal version.

For the organized planner (side spiralbound): The Rhodia Spiralbound Meeting Book is the planner’s dream. This side spiralbound allows an all-in-one record of meeting discussions, decision and action items. You can review the meeting or event with one glance, having all of your plans and notes together on one page.

Color Coordinated (top spiralbound): Clairefontaine’s Classic Top Spiralbound Notepad blends the best of both colors per cover. Plus, it includes either lined or graph paper, so it’s perfect for in the classroom or in the office. It’s even great for playing paper and line games where you need the graphing boxes.

Editor’s Note: Like stapled notepads better? Check out Kelly’s article detailing Top vs. Side Staplebound Notepads.

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 Meet the Writer: Kelly McLendon is a freelance writer and journalist with a passion for paper products—particularly eco-friendly ones. Follow her articles on our blog to learn all about paper products.

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