Monday Spark: Checking items off your To-Do list makes you feel good.

to do listTo give yourself a daily lift in spirits, get into the habit of using to-do lists.

I have an ongoing list of things I need to get done, and the days by which they are due.

When I get up in the morning, I can immediately see my tasks for the day.

As each item is completed, I check a box next to the item.

As the day progresses, more and more items get checked off.

At the end of the day I can look at my list – at all the items with check marks against them – and I feel good.

I feel good because I can see what I have done with my day. I can see I have had a productive day. I can see that I have made progress and am moving forward.

Funny thing – I used to simply delete items from the list as I progressed through each day. But…

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On your web content pages, reveal your core message slowly.

mystery in the box revealedOften when I arrive at a content page online, I read the first few lines and find the answer or information I was looking for. Or I at least get the gist of it. I then stop reading and hit the back button.

In other words, the writer has revealed the good stuff at the top of the page, and has given me little or no reason to keep reading.

In fact, I have made the same error with this post. You have already finished reading the short version of what I plan to say and – if you were in a hurry – you could pretty much move on at this point.

(That said, the good stuff is yet to come…I just didn’t flag it in the intro.)

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Monday Spark: Stretch Yourself.

Here is a story from when I was about 11 years old.

At my school, in England, we used to put on a full-length play by Shakespeare once a year.

I was a hopelessly timid kid, but somehow landed the part of Cassius in the play, Julius Caesar. I didn’t think I could learn hundreds of lines for the play, and I didn’t think I could get up on the stage in front of an audience.

But I did. And playing that part changed my life.

My teacher gave me the opportunity to really stretch myself, and to discover what I was truly capable of.

Now we fast-forward a generation to when my children were at school at about the same age. When I went to see their school “plays”, my kids were asked to learn maybe ten lines.

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The 3 A’s of Client Attraction.

I was listening to the radio the other day and came across a discussion about how, people choose their doctors.

And this is where the 3 A’s come in.

Affability, Availability and Ability.

When a doctor is affable, that means he or she is friendly, empathetic and appears genuinely caring.

Availability is about how long the patient will have to wait to get an appointment.

And ability speaks to the patient’s sense of just how good or bad the doctor is at his or her job.

What interested me was that the expert being interviewed on that radio program was saying that these 3 A’s are listed according to their importance to the patient.

In other words, patients care most about their doctor being affable, then about their availability, and finally about their ability.

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Introducing — Monday Sparks for Freelancers [VIDEO]

Beginning today, I’ll be publishing a Monday Spark each week.

The idea is to wake you up, inspire you, get you revved up, and give you a little spark to start the week.

Why? Because freelancing can be a great way to live and work, but it can also be a challenge.

Yes, we are free and independent. We don’t have to go to the office or listen to a boss. As freelancers, our lives are our own, to do with as we wish.

But we are also alone, and it isn’t always easy to start the week fully motivated.

We are in free flight, without a parachute, flying low to the ground, and trying to stay aloft and achieve our dreams…but sometimes we need a little push, a little inspiration.

Which brings me to this morning’s spark…some free flight, literally… courtesy of the remarkable Jeb Corliss.

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4 Examples of Effective Headline Design.

headline design for web contentHeadline design? What does that mean?

It means writing and formatting your headline in a way that makes it jump out from the page, or email, or a smartphone.

It used to be that headlines had to do a single job, on the web page where the balance of the content followed. Read the headline, and then keep reading the body text immediately below.

Today, headlines still have to work well, immediately above the body content, but they also have to grab attention and hook readers when they stand alone.

Here are a few situations where your headline has to stand alone, or almost alone: When used as a tweet on Twitter. In an RRS feed. On a smartphone. In Reddit or Digg.

In these circumstances, your headline has to jump out from dozens of others, and get the reader to click through to the full page or post.

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