How to Sign Mail Merge Letters

A financial planner sent me a letter that went into the trash the instant I opened it…without even blinking. Here’s why:

  • The letter was typed using the Comic Sans typeface. The typeface you select for your business correspondence should reflect the type of business you’re in. If you’re running a daycare center, a playful font like Comic Sans would be appropriate, but not for a financial planner who wants to be taken seriously.

  • She started the letter using “Dear Peggy.” Since I don’t know her, the planner should have addressed the letter with “Dear Ms. Duncan.” If we had met in passing or had talked on the phone at least once, or had our paths crossed at all, Dear Peggy would have been OK.

  • The signature was wrong. Real wrong. The financial planner was asking for my business and sent me a letter with a TYPED SIGNATURE! She didn’t even bother to sign her name! Never do this…regardless of how fancy the typeface is!

If you’re sending someone a form letter that you’re creating using mail merge, or you’re having something printed requiring your signature, do this instead of typing your signature:

  1. Sign your name as you normally would on a blank sheet of paper using a fluid writing instrument so the signature will be smooth and solid.

  2. Take a digital picture or scan it (if you need to scan and don’t have a scanner, someone you know does or perhaps your local office supply store or copy center…don’t buy one because you’ll probably rarely use it).

  3. Save your scanned signature as a graphic as you would any item. (I also saved this graphic as an AutoText entry in Word so anytime I need it, I type the name I gave it and press F3.)

  4. Create your mail merge letter as you normally would, and insert the graphic signature into the letter where you would normally sign it. Resize the graphic if you need to.

  5. Run your mail merge. Your original-looking signature will print out on every letter.

Direct mail experts say that a signature signed in blue ink has a better response rate (I don’t remember why but I think it’s to show it’s an original). So if you’re sending out a direct mail letter and you have a color printer, sign your name in blue ink and scan using the color option.

Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert

A tornado hit Atlanta and I didn't know

A tornado whipped through downtown Atlanta last month for the first time in history. I slept through it and so did at least five other people I spoke with. In fact, we didn’t even know about the storm until our loved ones called from out of town to see if we were OK.

Why is this? Why didn’t we know? Because we rarely watch the local news or read the local newspapers (paper or online). Why? Because they’re not talking about anything except what Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are doing, or who shot John overnight.

I talked to my other “clueless” friends, and we all agreed that it’s scary to think that something this drastic happened and we didn’t know about it. So we discussed some solutions.

  1. Watch television news first thing in the morning. Nope. I’m not starting my day out with the horrors that are happening in the world. That “news” gets in your spirit and that’s what you’ll think about all day. (I keep up with what’s going on by checking news sites, but not in the morning.)
  2. Listen to the radio first thing in the morning. Nope. For the same reasons as Number 1.
  3. Depend on others to let us know what’s going on. We could do this and wait until our loved ones who watch the news let us know. But we shouldn’t put this burden on others. We have to take responsibility for our own safety.

Our discussion went on through examples like this. What did we decide on? Since we live on our computers, we downloaded The Weather Channel Desktop for Atlanta. Now every day, all day, I have a visual of what is going on in my town…at least weather-wise.

Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert

The Google Calendar integrates with Outlook so sharing is easy

The question about sharing the Outlook calendar with others comes up a lot in my workshops I conduct on managing time with Outlook. If you’re on an Exchange Server it’s no problem. But what if you’re working with a virtual assistant or you’d like a family member to always know where you are? There are various solutions, but Google has taken all the pain away.

I use Outlook to its fullest. If you knew it the way I do, you wouldn’t use anything else. It never crossed my mind to use the Google Calendar until now. Google integrates with Outlook and you can easily share your calendar with the public or only with certain people that you designate. And it’s free! (Is this old news? I’m just now finding out.)

Keeping the two in sync is easy…as easy as with your PDA. Any change I make in Outlook is synched to the Google Calendar as soon as I connect to the Internet. This is just too good.

Use Dual Monitors and Spend Less Time Working

Here are some things you’ll be able to do:

  • Research the Net on one and drag the information to the other.
  • View your Outlook calendar on one and email on the other.
  • Read instructions on one and perform the steps on the other.
  • Launch your PowerPoint show onto one monitor, make the changes on your computer and see the changes as they happen in Slide Show view.
  • And so much more!

Note: Under the instruction “to move items between monitors” add the following:

  • Double-click the top of a display screen (your blue bar) to resize your screen (Restore).
  • Then drag an item on your desktop across your screen until it appears on the other monitor.

This monitor swivels to portrait mode.

You will love using dual monitors. It’ll take you a few minutes to get used to it, but you’ll be glad you did.

One more thing: to view your Outlook calendar on one monitor and email on the other, right-click the Calendar icon, Open in New Window. Then drag the calendar to the other monitor.

If you went from one monitor to two or more, let me know how much it has helped. Or once you set yours up, let me know what you think.

………………………………………………

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Peggy Duncan, personal productivity expert

Email Entire Contents of a Folder

Have you ever needed to email the entire contents of a computer folder? It’s easy with Windows XP or above.
  1. Right-click the Start button, click Explore. Find the folder you want to email.
  2. Right-click the folder, Send To, Compressed (zipped) folder. All of the folder’s contents will be compressed into a single file (don’t worry, when it’s unzipped, everything will be as individual files).
  3. Click Yes to designate Compressed (zipped) Folders as the application you want to handle these types of files. The folder that I zipped was a subfolder and the new .zip file ended up as the last file in the main folder. It will have the same name but with a .zip extension.
  4. Email this folder as you normally would. Either from where you are now (right-click the .zip folder, Send To, Mail Recipient), or later as an attached file. When I’ve done this, the recipient has had to first save the .zip file out on their Desktop to open. They were not able to open it inside the email message (if you have better luck, let me know).

Note: If it’s a large file and too big to send via email, use a free service such as http://www.YouSendIt.com/ You’ll upload your file onto their server, and your recipient can download it. They also have a paid service, YouSendIt Express, that allows you to send entire folders, http://www.YouSendIt.com/cms/applications.

PEACE.


Let's Not Take It Anymore!

“You called me. We met for lunch but your attention is somewhere else. Thumbing and talking on your cell phone. Oh noooooo buddy. I didn’t take time out from my business, get out of my pajamas, drive to this restaurant wasting my gas and adding wear and tear on my car just to sit here and watch you conduct your business. My cell phone is off. You have my undivided attention…”

Does this sound familiar? Let’s not take it anymore!

Say: “If you even glance at that X?!! BlackBerry one more time I’m leaving!”

Turn Your Blog Into a Widget and Post It Anywhere

The scrollable box to the right of my blog with Recent Posts is called a blidget (a blog turned into a widget. In computer programming, a widget is an interface element that a user interacts with such as a button, check box, slider, drop-down list, etc.).

With my blog as a widget, every time I create a new post, the blidget is automatically updated everywhere it’s inserted, whether it’s on my Website, your Website, or wherever (about 15 minutes later). A big plus is that it’s also easy for you to create a widget of my blog and promote it in your blog or on your Website.

Go ahead. Create your own widget of my blog. Click the button Get My Widget for your site and add SUITE Minute to your Website or blog.

To create your own blidget, at http://www.widgetbox.com look down the left side and click Submit a Blidget. This free service is very intuitive and with a few clicks you’ll be finished. You’ll need your blog URL and your feed URL (my feed is with http://www.feedblitz.com).

My blidget is also on my Website. Some of my associates who don’t update their blog as much as I do have my blidget too.

Peggy Duncan, personal productivity expert

Creating and Editing a Movie Can Be Easy

Last summer, I was a speaker at the Phenomenal Women Speak conference in the US Virgin Islands. It was part of a PBS special for the island’s affiliate. They sent me a copy of the DVD. My plan is to pull 8-10 minutes from this and create a video for speaker bureaus.

(I know you’re thinking that I should be paying someone to do this for me, but I’m a computer nut, and instead of watching TV or going shopping, I learn stuff on my computer. I get caught up in it, and hours go by with friends and family having to remind me to eat.)

Unfortunately, the DVD was in the .vob format, and none of the software I used to convert it worked. I went to my favorite Website and looked for software that could do it (www.snapfiles.com). They test software, evaluate it, and put it on their site for you to download. Some of it’s free, some not. I’ve always found exactly what I needed.

I tried various software, but nothing was giving me the quality I needed. The free software converted it, but the quality was bad (it might be that the video is an hour long). Another software converted it, but my mouth movement wasn’t keeping up with the sound.

Finally, I found what I needed. The Movavi Video Converter converted the file and kept the quality.

To create the movie, I thought I’d be able to use Microsoft’s free Movie Maker. But every time I added my video, the software crashed. I tried different scenarios to fix the problem (checking codecs) but nothing worked.

I was wasting time, so I went back to Camtasia to pull segments from the full video, add graphics, photos, music, etc. It’s by www.techsmith.com, and is probably the best software in the world for this type of project (for regular people like us). The company uses its own technology to create tutorials that are free on their Website so you’ll have no problem learning how to use it.

When I finish the project, I’ll burn the DVDs and use my artwork I talked about in a previous post to create the finished product. I’ll create a link later so you can see it. Stay tuned…

I’ve done this before and have a video segment for a time management seminar I gave for small business owners. Click the link to view.

PEACE.