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Time Flies (Delegate). by Alison Fleming BA., MAssHFP.

In a previous article before last we took a look at how meetings can be made more effective, by using both time and people more productively. There are all sorts of other situations where managing people more time effectively draws its benefits.

Delegation has been touched upon, whereby... sometimes it is more time-effective to delegate a favourite job to somebody else. This way you can carry out that less favourable task, the one that, unfortunately, is best handled by yourself!

The mistake that many people make when delegating, is "lack of forethought". Many bosses only feel comfortable when they know that their fellow workers are "busy" with something - anything will do, as long as everyone is keeping busy. If this is the case for you, then it's time to take a step back and see where better use can be made, of that person or of those people who work with you.

Just because someone happens to be one step below you on the business ladder doesn't mean that the same goes for their natural abilities. For instance, you could be entertaining an important customer (who just happened to drop by) when there's an urgent report to write. You may have never thought about delegating that report. So everyone else is "busy" shuffling papers and reorganising filing cabinets and so on, during the best hours of the day and when they could be being of more effective use.

Often it's just a matter of communication. An employee may want more responsibility but the boss doesn't know it. Or the boss may want someone to take on more, but hasn't had the time to focus on the idea. Instead he writes a list of "chores for the day", and they get done. People naturally like to feel wanted, valued and understood. The trouble is that this can go too far and some folks Ė especially those with a recognised position of responsibility - try to become indispensable. In order to get more out of people, you have to put more balls into their court. Whatever the job is, if there is a way that you can hand that job over completely to some capable soul, then do so. Giving others more responsibility for what they are paid to do frees your time for other things. More often than not, this improves your relationship with that person. People can be resentful of pure orders and lists of things to do.

Some people don't like to delegate because they feel guilty about asking another to do a job. This can be especially true of those who are new to management. Such a habit of thought does not make for good leadership. But if people are going to be led successfully, they need to be "led" in a respectful way, where they can grow in skills and keep self esteem at a premium. The more respect you dish out, the more respect you get back. What goes around comes around as the saying goes. So, avoid the temptation to hold on to even a little bit of that Job - that is, don't request that they check in and tell you how things are going every so often, unless you absolutely need to know this

Just "let go" and see what you get back! Then go from there.

Of course there is such a thing as delegating too much too! This can only backfire on you in the long run, so make sure everyone's happy with everything at the outset. You wouldn't want to lose a good worker. Neither do you want to bring into being an indispensable associate!

Deadlines in delegation are the next thing to consider. Just as you set deadlines for yourself in order to get a job done, when you delegate a job entirely to someone else, giving them a deadline ensures that the job will be completed. Giving a deadline also compensates for your having "let go" completely. No one will be checking back to you every now and then, but you know that by a certain time some results will come back your way. It is even better if you give your subordinate the opportunity to make a deadline for him/herself. For instance, you can ask, "when will you be finished?", which makes them think seriously about the time framework. The fact that they chose the time and date makes it all the more important that they honour it.

Watch out for members in your business who seem all too happy to take on a job that you delegate, but then all of a sudden you find the same back on your desk as a problem to handle, Many people do not realise the behaviour pattern here. They feel that they cannot take on the responsibility alone, and so need to involve the person who, delegated it. A job is less likely to be completed if someone does not take full responsibility for it. One person can so easily hide behind the other. Neither is fully committed. Each can wait for the other to take control. This is another argument in favour of full delegation. Try to dissuade such persons from continuing this behaviour if at all possible. Draw attention to it. It may be that they just need a little encouragement. It may be that they are lazy good for nothings just stalling for time!

About asking the boss for info... if you have a boss and truly do not know how to handle a situation that you have been delegated, then obviously it is best to go back to the boss and ask for feedback. However, it is much more time-saving if you have all the facts, figures and some suggestions to offer, even better if you can mark the suggestions a), b) and c) . Remember that if the job has been handed entirely into your hands then you should be the one with the most up to date knowledge of that job. If the boss still knows more than you do then there's something wrong somewhere.

So to asking the boss for advice ... clarify the situation as quickly as possible and make it as easy as possible for the boss to help you to come to a decision. In planning what you want to say, you may just fall upon the answer anyway, so won't have to approach the person who has put so much faith in you. It's all about each person being respectful of each individual's role. Again, this can go too far the other way. Don't make decisions that really are not yours to make. Keep within your job strategy. Good communication is all it takes to know where the boundaries lie.

Next article - Don't interrupt me!

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Time Flies (Donít Interrupt). by Alison Fleming BA., MAssHFP.

Interruptions can be the most irritating time wasters. How many times have you decided to get that important thing done, only to be interrupted so many times through the course of the attempt that all you get at the end of it is a headache, There is no way that you can prevent interruptions. However, you can cut them down substantially, to the extent that you may never say "Don't interrupt me!" again.

In the first instance, it is a good idea to devise a written table into which you can record every time that you have been interrupted and why. Then, beside each entry, attempt to conclude how this interruption could have been handled in order to gain time on it or how it could have been prevented completely. Just your own *thoughts, according to your unique situation.

Interruptions of self, are often the culprit. For instance, what can be called "busy" work is one thing used by many to prevent the most important things from being accomplished, Back to the law that says that we do things in inverse relation to their importance (in the first article on Time Flies), "busy" work is the kind of work that is never urgent, easy on the brain and that can be done in small or large chunks whenever you feel like it - like sorting, or filing, or rearranging, or offering to make everyone a cup of coffee, or generating say interesting graphs of accounts on the computer, and so on. It can look very productive, when in fact the real jobs are being stuffed under the blotter pad and to the back of the brain. But these types of interruptions -once recognised for what they are - are easily zapped!

The interruptions more difficult to handle are those interruptions made on your time by other people. Most often, the people interrupting are unaware that they are interrupting. Therefore it is an area which comes under your control if anything is to be done about it.

There are a myriad of examples. The one that comes instantly to mind is that of the telephone ringing. Who is it? What do they want? If you don't answer then these questions will be niggling at you. So you answer. On a really bad day it could be Mr. Waffle of the year, who won't let you get a word in edgeways and who offers information with an importance factor of 0. On another it could be a series of small phone calls that come every 20 minutes or so and hence keep breaking you off just as you were getting nicely stuck into that meaty task.

So what to do about the phone calls? If you are lucky enough to have a secretary (or kind and loving partner) who is prepared to answer the phone while you are busy, then this is the answer. The calls are therefore being dealt with. If urgent, you can step in. If not, you will get back to them. If you can state a time that you will return the call, all the better. Incidentally, research has shown that the person who instigates a telephone call is in the most control of the conversation that ensues. Just a quirk of human nature. If you receive a call, you feel at odds with their wishes and whims - maybe it's because, after all, they're paying the bill! So it is best to "take control" and so make the return call.

If you don't have that helpful hand, an answer phone is an option. Although, people prefer to talk to people, not machines. Also, too many people do not utilise these machines to best effect. Many just don't make the return calls. This has come to be expected, so people tend not to leave messages.

If you do need to answer the call yourself, manage a direct manner. If the call is not urgent, be truthful and say that you have something urgent pressing and that you'll call them back directly in one hour (or however long) and many thanks for the call etc. If said in a friendly way no offence will be taken.

Another common form of interruption is of people just dropping in to see you unexpectedly. This is worse than the phone calls, because they're standing right in front of you and they may be your best friend. A lot of tact has to be used if you want to get on with that important task. Time is ticking away here. So what do you do?

Body language says a lot without the need for words. Just as we unconsciously copy the body language of our peers in order to "get close", we can do the opposite when we want to get rid (excuse the term)! So if someone comes into the office and sits down, stand up and remain standing while you talk. While they're twiddling their thumbs, look busy. While they are making the eye contact, keep going back to your work. Move quickly, be friendly but be busy. In fact most of us do this naturally. Some people are a little more thick skinned than others though and so need to have these actions exaggerated in order to receive that "go away I'm busy" message. At the end of the day it does depend on what kind of relationship you have with a person. If the relationship is really close you canít just say "shut up and go away 'ol pal, see you in an hour" for instance. Of course you most likely couldn't say that that to the boss!

Whatever size of business you work within, there are other ways of communicating with all the members about when you do not wish to be interrupted. A sign on the office door saying Do Not Disturb is one thing. Diverting calls is another. Or - this is a little less flexible -you could choose to put aside a certain time per day, per week, when you are not to be disturbed. During this time you do all your important tasks. Or - as they say - a little bit of everything does you good!

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Time Flies (Planning). by Alison Fleming BA., MAssHFP.

Back to the essence of these articles. Time is a funny thing. Its length is determined psychologically, its physicality given by the numbers on a clock. But whether it drags or flies by,, one thing's for certain, time waits for no man. It is precious. So how can we use it wisely?

Motivation is the door that needs to be opened. Once motivated and focused, the rest is as easy as we want to make it. Planning is one of the keys. We need to plan to make time for ourselves, our hopes and aspirations. If we can draw up a life plan, then a decade plan, then a three year plan, a yearly plan, a monthly plan, a weekly plan a daily plan, then we should do that.

OK planning does not guarantee what you'll get. Life has a funny way of throwing many a plan three sheets to the wind. The idea is to at least have an imaginary path to follow. Many of us - if not most of us - leave everything to chance, fate and all other things random, then don't we just feel so cheated when certain dreams are not realised? Whatever happens, it's a better feeling to have had some influence over events. Planning is a great motivator.

We want to take the opportunities of life, rather than allow life to run all over us. Planning helps toward that aim. The way to plan effectively is to - first -think REAL. Don't consider unrealistic goals. It's like a meal being set before you that is so big that you lose your appetite. So think real. Then, WRITE everything down and save it. In this frame of mind, think about the rest of your life. What do you want to do with this one life that you have? Think long term of what you would like to achieve over so many years. Maybe you want to own a larger printing business in a certain area, or have a certain number of children, or perhaps a six figure income, or maybe you would like to diversify into a completely new area of printing, or excel in a particular subject. Then think shorter term, say for the next six months.

Make a "tree" for personal goals and a "tree" for business goals. Do long term trees and short term trees. The main subjects are to appear on the thickest trunk branches. Then, take each item and make branches off. On the smaller branches jot down just what you think you need to do in order to achieve that goal. If it is to branch into book-binding for instance, then you may write that you need to begin classes over a period of time, contact a college in the area, invest in new equipment and so on. Subdividing the tree branches further, for example, next to "invest in equipment" you have - open savings account, find equipment suppliers. Then, decide when you want to begin to fulfill each of the goals. Next to each specific task, put a date. Now you have given yourself a deadline. Therefore you have created for yourself a time frame within which to begin to work towards your goals.

This is a solid start. The hard part is keeping it up once the enthusiasm of the moment has declined. The way to keep going is to keep focused. If you think about it, the most famous successful people in the world are completely focused on their occupations and obviously fully committed. Also, you may have noticed that they are fully in control, relaxed and happy. So how is the focus maintained?

Planning helps. Most of us have daily lists of things to do. These are normally composed of what has become urgent (be it stocking up on foil or food!), to routine commitments such as a daily visit to someone, to things that other people ask of you on spec, along with circumstantial bits and pieces (you run out of printer paper just when you ,need it most, for instance). So what's happening here is that you are not at all addressing what you have wanted to do with your day. This is a prime example of how we're controlled by fate and by others. It's time to give more time to what is important to you.

Each time of day you have what can be termed as "prime time", when you are at your best, the most alert and receptive. It normally lasts for two to three hours. It could be in the morning, in the evening, first thing after lunch, whenever. Try to have one thing on your daily list that is of importance to you. Then give it your prime time. So, say if you want to learn how to play the guitar, practice during prime time, every day, from now on. If you want to write a book, likewise, concentrate on it then.

Looking at prime time further. Once you have identified the period of time in the day that you are at your best, try to protect it for yourself as far as possible, i.e., don't let people disturb you, do not arrange or go to a low-importance meeting during this period.

Always work on your most important goal seeking activities within your prime time.

Finally, keep your original long term and short term "trees" to hand, whether on the fridge door, on your desk, by your bedside, in the bathroom. Have them with you when you make your daily list, monthly agenda, and so on. Remember, focus is the motivator, motivation is the door and planning is a key.

And so ends the final article on Time!

(all Time articles influenced by the talents of productivity consultant Ed Bliss and his inspiring tapes in the series "Getting Things Done", available from Careertrack Publications)

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An Appreciation Of Type. by Alison Fleming BA., MAssHFP.

"The tradition of type must be considered the most enduring, quiet and effective institution of divine grace, influencing all nations through the centuries, and perhaps in time forging a chain to link all mankind in brotherhood." Johann Goafried von Herder.

Choosing a typeface or two is only one of the elements of concern when deciding upon a design, for a letterhead, flyer or business card for example. However, an appreciation of type is a must, if you want to really get to know how to make best use of it in a design.

Type has its roots in calligraphy, that is, the original skill of handwriting using a flat-edged pen. Most of the first types for lowercase letters have their roots in hand-written forms. You can better understand these type forms by looking at their calligraphic beginnings.

As far as we know, Johann Gutenberg invented printing from movable type in Mainz, Germany in about 1450. He printed a Bible and used a typeface called Gothic Textura that was based on written manuscript lettering, in black, popular in northern Europe at the time. This lettering in turn had evolved from earlier written alphabets, and so it evolves. The Gothic typeface is still surviving today, designed by F W Goudy, and - as it is so flamboyant and rather difficult to decipher with ease - it tends to be used for simple card greetings and titles.

Nicholas Jenson developed roman type. It was based on what is called "humanistic" (small) letters that were perhaps easier to read than the Gothic texts. Jenson's roman (upright) type has been used to model most subsequent roman types.

Aldus Manutius designed the first italic type - out around 1500. He had been influenced by various writing masters of the Renaissance, who in turn were influenced by the "chancery cursive", a writing style adopted by the Catholic Church as the official calligraphy for papal briefs. And still today it survives ... my children are learning "cursive writing" at school at this very moment. Just thought I'd put that one in.

Then came the script faces. Excelsior Script is a typeface that has evolved from written script forms. The chisel-points that help form the design of a letter, for example in the roman typeface are obviously. taken from calligraphic writing.

Some historians say that there are only two styles the vertical (roman) and the slanted (italic). Others say that there are four styles - the roman, the italic, the text letter (as in gothic) and the script. Others give further classification. Roman can be divided into six subcategories - Antique Old Style (Cloister), Formal Old Style (French Garamond), Informal Old Style (Dutch - English Caslon), Transitional Roman (Baskerville), Modern Roman (Bodoni) and San Serif (Futura). Since Gutenberg's time, thousands of variations with many different names have evolved.

Personal notes taken after perusing the wonderful book "Tips . On Type" designed by Bill Gray, (c)1983 by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company Inc (Publishers), 135 West 50th Street, New York NY 10020, also at Van Nostrand Reinhold Co Ltd, Molly Millars Lane, Wokingham, Berkshire, England. Well worth a read :)

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Type. by Alison Fleming BA., MAssHFP.

With today's computer design technology many hot foil printers are opting to use dies.

However, there are pros and cons with every approach to print. composition. A selection of type to hand is essential and is the best option for short runs, one off jobs and where the use of a die would add to costs or turnaround time so much as to sway a customer elsewhere.

Hot foil printing requires hard alloy type or the more expensive brass type. These can withstand the heat and pressure of the process, where ink printers' lead type is too soft.

Type comes in sets called founts or fonts. A fount consists of 100, 150 or 280 characters split into upper (capital) and lower ease letters of the alphabet and figures, plus punctuation marks (called points) and symbols - £, $, %, &, @ etc. Ask suppliers for their type synopsis for hot foil stamping type.

You can buy half (small) founts and full founts; caps and figures only; caps and lower case only; or whatever combination you want, in a variety of sizes according to the Point Size System (featured next month). Fount prices start from around £18 and go up to over £100.

Along with the founts of type you need spacing material of equivalent sizes, to insert wherever a scale is required between each word, each line, each block of text and so on.

Type Styles

There are quite a few styles (type faces) suitable for the hot foil printer although hundreds of different styles exist. Each has a name. Certain well established type faces include Times, Univers and Gill. These amongst many others are available in light, medium, bold and various italic forms, each with the characteristics of its Father Fount. Type faces not easily available can always be accessed by the artwork-die route.

Logos & Symbols

Type suppliers offer a reasonable choice. Designs include telephone symbols, bells, Greetings, and many other pictorial representations.

Decorative Borders & Rules

Decorative borders and corners, and combination dashes for use in conjunction with type come in lots of designs. Rules are for printing horizontal lines, to underline a title for instance. Swelled rules, tapering to each end, have an embellishment (usually central) and can be used for underlining or separating blocks of text. Brass rules of type height are also available. plain and fancy borders generally come in standard lengths (e.g. 3" and 5") or can be cut to order, bought singly or in sets.

Spacing Material

Spacing material is often described as "furniture" and is categorised into various names. It is less than type-height and so cannot touch the stock to be printed.

Spaces and Quads: are like type pieces but without the character type face on top, and are used for putting spaces between letters words and to separate sections of damage. Neither should it make contact with bare metal, e.g. the print table or metal guide rods/jigs.

Beware of locking type too tightly in the type holder. It can be bent and distorted this way and at worst the type holder can crack. There again, make sure type is secure before printing.

With flatbed machines, where the type hangs down over the print bed, remove the type holder from the machine before the machine has cooled down completely. Contraction of metal can cause type to fall front its holder.

When distributing type back into storage cases, pick up a few characters at a time. This alleviates mistakes and speeds up the process of distribution.

Care of Spacing Material

Spacing material should be treated with as much respect as type- A slight bend in a strong piece of spacing material within a line of set type can put the whole line out and hamper the locking up procedure. Store in an orderly fashion for case in selection.

When starting out, here is an example of what to invest in: a type recommended for hot foil blocking; type produced by one founder to ensure equality of type height and metal density; a couple of large founts of a type face (for plenty of type characters), each in three sizes; small founts, for short headings, in three sizes; and a large fount of small capitals as another choice for peripheral text.

Avoid second-hand type and thin script faces, because the former may be worn already and the latter can tend to wear out quickly.

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Designing Stationery. by Alison Fleming BA., MAssHFP.

Although there are telephones, faxes and e-mails, the art of letter writing is still going strong, and - according to some sources - has increased over the years. There's something permanent about putting one's thoughts down on paper. Additionally, when one has taken the time to write a letter, where a phone call would have been easier, the contents take on more importance. When something is written down it is more likely to receive a response. If one wants to take the time to write, and gain the unending respect of the reader, it's well worth the small investment in quality printed personal stationery. Just some reasons to advocate the use of stationery - for both personal and business use. However, this piece is about Design!

A good letterhead can only create the right impression. But what is "good"? It's all about design. Design is all about reflecting an image.

Start from the customer and work from there. Is the customer a homemaker who needs some quality stationery for a specific purpose - maybe to thank friends for Christening presents for instance - or for general-purpose writing? The customer may very well volunteer an amount of helpful "design" information upon first meeting. So it is just a case of filling in the missing angles, preferences etc. Does the design need to be modern or traditional for example? Then a type style can be chosen to suit.

Business letterheads are something you can have a lot of fun with too. A business has more reason to really get into the nitty gritty of promoting an image. Promotion depends on repetition, especially repetition of "the same". An approach by a business customer makes for a good opportunity to design a business package of letterheads, business cards, and promotional goods, all of consistent design, type face, layout, logo, colour, paper and board to suit. By doing all at once you could offer a reasonable deal, because artwork and die making costs would be favourable.

Inside every printer there's an artist somewhere. Sometimes it may need a little coaxing out, but

practice makes perfect. When considering the design of a job, look at the business or customer that you are designing for. If the company wants to reflect a high class image you don't want the letterhead to look as if it were promoting the local snack bar. An old antique shop would not thank you for producing letterheads that reflect a modern, go-ahead company. Nor would the latter company thank you for an Olde Worlde typeface I'm sure. It's all common sense and a matter of taste at the end of the day, but -design examples are to be found all around - something to look out for at all times.

Designing Cards. by Alison Fleming BA., MAssHFP.

Cards come in many sizes and in all sorts of colours and textures. The choice of typefaces to print with is also multifarious. As for design ideas, there are as many as you can think of, for whatever application.

The exceptions to this tend to be the. formal invitation cards, such as the formal wedding invitation or traditional party invitation. The text is generally centered, with a space indicated with a dotted line to add the name of the person (s) to be invited. Script faces printed in silver are a popular choice. The layout and typeface create a formal but friendly communication.

If a customer comes in and wants you to design a wedding invitation, there are many suitable suppliers for this type of card. The most important concern here is that all details are correct; who (names), what (event), where (place) when (dates, times). Details such as RSVP to such and such a person by such and such a time, and the type of "dress* required (formal or informal) can also be included. A centered layout makes it easy to split the information on the card for easy reading.

Party invitations come in many shapes, sizes -and colours, with a choice of decorated edges and pre-printed party-type designs. They can be set out in the same way are the more formal wedding invitation, but nowadays, when a formal layout may not be appropriate, the possibilities are endless.

As with every design concept, the starting point is your audience. Who is going to be receiving these cards - young children, teenagers, senior citizens and so on? This dictates the choices you make at every level of the process.

Badge Idea!
If you don't have a set-up for printing badges in your print shop and a customer comes in wanting some, here's an alternative. Most stationers will have a stock of the type of badge used to identify people at conferences, exhibitions and such like. A light card slips into a plastic sleeve, which secures with a simple safety pin. The card can be printed as you would a business card or any other card, setting up your jig to suit. You never know, you may be able to use cards you already hold in stock. Check this idea out with your local board supplier or stationer. It's an inexpensive way to add another angle to your business.

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