40 essential rules of client management (collected over 10 years)

Life is not that complicated...

For the last decade, I’ve been compiling a list of ‘rules’ for client management based on very personal, subjective reactions to things that happened to me, mainly in the business world. I was partly inspired by NASA’s 100 rules for project managers.

I always meant it to be very personal and some of the rules relate to very specific things that happened to me. But I realised that with proper scrubbing it might be interesting for you too.

  1. Don’t email or call anyone if you’re feeling angry.
  2. If in doubt, brew up or go for a walk.
  3. You don’t have to do things you don’t want to do.
  4. If something can’t continue forever, it will stop.
  5. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
  6. Be a good friend to your emotions.
  7. Wings are strong because they are flexible not because they are rigid; be like that.
  8. Treat everyone as if they were VIPs: polite, attentive, respectful.
  9. Respect people’s time. Write shorter emails. Talk less.
  10. Invoice as soon as the work is done. You might fall out with your client or they might go bust if you wait.
  11. Don’t discuss your schedule and traffic management issues with clients. They don’t need to see inside the sausage factory.
  12. The asshole client rule: three strikes and you’re out. Strikes include: negotiating over an invoice (trying to get a discount after the price has been agreed and the work delivered) and not listening to my advice (they don’t have to take it).
  13. Don’t look over your shoulder.
  14. You don’t have to speak first.
  15. The thing you are cross about is not the thing you are cross about.
  16. A project that starts cocked up tends to stay cocked up.
  17. Warning signs that an agency project is doomed: client in an insane hurry, sloppy briefing from agency, no end client contact, ‘write now, brief later’.
  18. More Gary Cooper and less Tommy Cooper.
  19. If you don’t trust or respect your client anymore, get out. You can’t make bad people good from a subordinate position.
  20. For new overseas clients, get 50 percent upfront or all of the money in escrow unless you know them personally.
  21. If someone does something extraordinary for you, write them a thank you note (and copy it to their boss). This is good karma.
  22. Working weekends for clients: I’ll do it once if there’s a genuine emergency but, unless you pay me obscenely well for your inefficiency, I won’t do it twice. Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
  23. If someone else is holding your passport, don’t get distracted or leave for the airport without it.
  24. Don’t start a project with a new client unless you have an agreed brief and a formal go-ahead email.
  25. Once a time-waster always a time-waster.
  26. Meetings are marketing, except with time wasters.
  27. If you don’t show up for three meetings or calls in a row, we’re not going to get on.
  28. You’re not as important as you think you are. Graveyards are full of ‘necessary’ men.
  29. Don’t let your ego, vanity and stress get in the way of doing a good job for your client.
  30. Idiotic clients need you more than competent ones. They just have to pay more.
  31. The presentation rule. If you are given an hour for a demo, finish in 45 minutes to allow time for questions. Don’t take 2 hours 10 minutes.
  32. Sometimes the best answer is no answer and sometimes it’s a question.
  33. There is no basis for apprehension.
  34. It sucks to let anyone get between you and your primary customer. They take all your good work and ideas but give none of the credit or feedback you need to do a good job. This is only partly compensated if they bring you new business that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
  35. Everyone’s important. The quiet person in the corner of the meeting might turn out to be the new boss.
  36. If the client repeatedly dithers about a project, just walk way. Manoeuvre X is better for the soul that pandering and pleading and bleating.
  37. A last-minute, urgent rush job does not guarantee that the client will accept anything you write or that the project will be easy, well-briefed, straightforward or profitable. Being in a hurry doesn’t obviate the need for a clear brief; it doubles it.
  38. It’s okay to agree to small bits of extra work for one-off pieces, but scope creep on large projects quickly gets out of hand as you add a couple of hours extra work to dozens of documents.
  39. Don’t write a proposal for an unqualified lead. If price is the only deciding factor, you can answer that in a paragraph with an indicative price. But it’s better to do a qualifying call first.
  40. ‘When you have got a thing where you want it to be it is a good thing to leave it where it is’ – Churchill.

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We’re hiring Articulate graduate marketing interns

graduate intern

Articulate is a fast-growing inbound marketing agency working in the technology sector. We’re looking for one or more awesome graduate interns to join the company.

We’re offering:

  • Real-world experience and responsibility for client work
  • Regular mentoring and training opportunities
  • A chance to work with big-name clients such as Microsoft and Symantec
  • The possibility to apply for a permanent position
  • A stipend of £1,000 a month

Typical assignments:

  • Researching and writing articles for client blogs and our own
  • Writing case studies, white papers and web copy
  • Promoting our content and engaging customers on social media
  • Managing small projects, under supervision

Successful candidates are analytical, creative, passionate and intellectually curious.

You should be:

  • A great communicator with confident, fluent written and spoken English, you love to write and blog and you are at home on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Genuinely interested in business, technology and marketing. Check out our company website and our Bad Language blog to find out more about who we are, what we do and who we work for.
  • Analytical. We’re looking for a naturally curious person, who loves to read and delve into new topics. You must enjoy independent research, and be able to absorb and process a lot of new information quickly.
  • Self-disciplined and process driven. You have a strong work ethic and you’re good at organising yourself. We set high standards for ourselves so details matter and processes are important. You treble-check your work.
  • Adaptable. We have a rigorous editing process, so you need to be happy to receive feedback, learn from it and make edits to your work to reflect that. You must be driven to continually improve your writing skills.
  • A good fit for our company culture. You can see more about this in our blog article: How to refactor your company culture in 2015.

What you should know

  • We’re looking for people with a good academic record but a degree in marketing itself isn’t necessary. Previous interns (and current employees) have studied architecture, history, English and mathematics.
  • Articulate Marketing is a small, entrepreneurial company so this is a demanding but informal programme that will suit a rugged individualist rather than a corporate clone.
  • We expect you to work (very) hard but this isn’t an office job. You will be working remotely from home. We are a virtual company that uses Skype, online applications and email to communicate.
  • You will need to be able to come to London from time to time to for company get-togethers and client meetings.

How to apply

 

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Essential business grammar lesson five: phrases and clauses

Phrases and clauses: pen knife

If it’s not a subject, predicate or object, then what is it? In order to fully understand grammar, you must understand all parts of a sentence.

Sentences are made of phrases and clauses, such as modifiers, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs and conjunctions, which add information and context to a sentence.

Phrases

Recall that even the simplest sentence has a subject and a verb.

  • I work.

When you add more information, you form a phrase.

  • I work every weekday from nine to five.

The phrase ‘every weekday from nine to five’ is called a phrase because it has a noun (weekday), modifiers (every) and a prepositional phrase (from nine to five). It does not have a verb.

Phrases have either a subject or a verb but not both. They cannot stand on their own.

Writing ‘Every weekday from nine to five’ as a sentence is grammatically incorrect and is called a sentence fragment.

Phrases are offset by commas unless they are essential appositives or split around verbs.

The many types of phrases

Noun phrases have a noun and its modifiers.

  • many errors.

Noun phrases can be split around a verb. Eg, Many errors were found that made the report unintelligible.

Appositive phrases modify other nouns.

  • Fred, employee of the month, is being promoted

Prepositional phrases include a preposition.

  • in the vicinity of
  • on top of

Infinitive phrases include the ‘to’ form of a verb.

  • to be heard
  • to go boldly

Gerund phrases include words that end in -ing.

  • racing against the deadline

Gerund phrases are usually used as nouns.

  • What is a bad idea? Procrastinating until the deadline is a bad idea.

‘Procrastinating until the deadline’ is used as a noun to answer a what question.

A participial phrase includes a participle, which is a verb used to modify a noun rather than describe an action; participles often end in -ed, -n, or -ing.

Participial phrases function as adjectives in sentences.

  • Paul, worn down by too much overtime, is taking a personal day.

‘Worn down by too much overtime’ describes Paul.

Absolute phrases modify entire sentences. They include a noun, a participle and other modifiers and adjectives.

  • Their status as winning competitors assured, both Sam and Beth took a bow.

‘Their status as winning competitors assured’ is the absolute phrase that explains (modifies) the independent clause that follows it.

Clauses

A clause has both a subject and a verb, but that does not mean it can stand on its own as a sentence. There are two types of clauses: dependent and independent.

Dependent clauses rely on the rest of the sentence to make sense.

  • When I heard about the new contract.

This clause has both a noun (contract) and a verb (heard), but it does not make sense on its own. It is dependent.

Dependent clauses can be joined to independent clauses with commas.

  • When I heard about the new contract, I was excited about the possibilities.

Independent clauses are sentences in their own right.

  • I was excited about the possibilities.

Two independent clauses must be joined with a conjunction like and, yet or but, otherwise you get a run-on sentence.

  • I heard about the new contract, and I am excited about the possibilities.

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Borat Ipsum and 9 more hilarious lorem ipsum generators

lorem ipsum generators: screen shot of borat ipsum

As copywriters, we feel very strongly that words are just as important to a marketing or website design project as any other element. Pantone red 32 and Hipster Comic Neue might convey your brand values perfectly, but without words, no one knows what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.

And yet, we continue to see lorem ipsum filling up wireframes and templates as if the communication part of the whole process can just be slotted in at the end. (You can probably tell, we at Articulate feel pretty strongly about this. Lorem ipsum is usually a sign of a failed design process.)

Living with lorem ipsum

So, if some of you project managers and designers will still insist on generating a bunch of meaningless placeholder text to put ‘where the words go’, at least make it entertaining.

Here are 10 of the best, most awesome lorem ipsum generators that we’ve come across lately and a little taster of the text they generate:

  1. Borat Ipsum. I sorry to interrupt the politic. Uh, please, is possible make a shit, your house, immediately, very urgent, I have a problem, please?
  2. Corporate Ipsum. Objectively innovate empowered manufactured products whereas parallel platforms. Holisticly predominate extensible testing procedures for reliable supply chains. Dramatically engage top-line web services vis-a-vis cutting-edge deliverables.
  3. Hipster Ipsum. Seitan salvia wayfarers health goth organic cliche, banjo narwhal vinyl direct trade lomo blog iPhone.
  4. Samuel L. Ipsum. Normally, both your asses would be dead as fucking fried chicken, but you happen to pull this shit while I’m in a transitional period so I don’t wanna kill you, I wanna help you.
  5. Whedon Ipusm. (I’m so exited this one exists!) Magic’s all balderdash and chicanery. Woman, you are completely off your nut. I told him that I loved him, I kissed him, and I killed him. Anything for you, because I love you. Deep, deep man love. Easy as really difficult pie. Darn your sinister attraction!
  6. The postmodernism generator. If one examines precapitalist nihilism, one is faced with a choice: either reject dialectic neocapitalist theory or conclude that expression is a product of the masses
  7. Zombie Ipsum. Qui animated corpse, cricket bat max brucks terribilem incessu zomby. The voodoo sacerdos flesh eater, suscitat mortuos comedere carnem virus.
  8. Bacon Ipsum. (Apologies to my vegetarian boss). Chuck pork belly pancetta tenderloin shoulder, ground round spare ribs filet mignon beef ribs pig ribeye fatback. Tri-tip pastrami flank leberkas turkey pig pork belly, biltong frankfurter turducken shoulder pancetta ball tip.
  9. Beer Ipsum. Enzymes secondary fermentation hoppy bright beer krausen; bock hop back wort sparge. dry hopping bitter goblet brew kettle pint glass! 
  10. Choose your ispum. None of these ticked your funny bone? I find that hard to believe, but if so, take a look at this site with a treasure trove of all sorts of text generators from Cupcake Ipsum to Pirate Ipsum.

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Essential business grammar lesson four: extra information with appositives

appositives: extra extra headline

Appositives are nouns or noun phrases that modify other nouns or noun phrases. They add specificity and detail to another noun. For example:

  • Mary asked that we attend this important meeting.
  • A member of the board of directors asked that we attend this important meeting.

Both of these sentences are complete and make sense. However, if you work in a large company, perhaps you don’t know who Mary is. Or, perhaps you’d like to know which member of the board requested your presence.

In this case we can combine ‘Mary’, a noun, and ‘a member of the board of directors’, a noun phrase in one of the following ways to make a more specific sentence, and thus one becomes an appositive.

Appositives as bonus information

We’ve already established that both sentences above make sense individually. This means that anything we add to either sentence is non-essential. Extra details may clarify or specify, but they are not needed.

Because they are not required, they must be wrapped in commas. The commas surround the appositive on both sides, unless the appositive starts the sentence, in which case only one comma is necessary.

  • Mary, a member of the board of directors, asked that we attend this important meeting.

In this case, since ‘a member of the board of directors’ is not necessary to the sentence, it is the appositive.

  • A member of the board of directors, Mary, asked that we attend this important meeting.

Here, ‘Mary’ is treated as the appositive. However, this sentence could also be written as:

  • A member of the board of directors, Mary asked that we attend this important meeting.

Here, the noun phrase is treated as the appositive, but is at the start of the sentence.

The trick to understanding punctuation for non-essential information is to identify which noun or noun phrase you are treating as a bonus. Non-essential appositives can be flexible.

Essential appositives

  • Member of the board Mary has asked that we attend this important meeting.

When an appositive is acting like a label (CEO Smith, Vice President Palmer) then it is essential information and the name is the appositive. Why is the name the appositive? The name is what makes the label more specific, changing it from a general member of the board to a single member. The name is also essential information. You could not remove Mary from this sentence and have it still make sense.

  • Member of the board has asked that we attend this important meeting.

Because we’re no longer talking about a member but a specific member, Mary is no longer bonus information and is no longer set off with commas.

Tips and Tricks

To discern between essential and non-essential appositives, first identify the noun and noun phrases that interact in the sentence.

  • I’m heading to Paris and Madrid over the long holiday.

Both Paris and Madrid are nouns, but they aren’t modifying one another so they are not appositives.

  • I’m heading to Paris, France, over the long holiday.

‘Paris, France’ is a phrase in which nouns are modifying one another. Now, try removing one at a time from the sentence to see if it makes sense.

  • I’m heading to France over the long weekend. I’m heading to Paris over the long weekend.

Since both can be removed, we’re in bonus territory. In this case, France is the appositive because it modifies Paris. You’re headed to the Paris in France, not the Paris in Ontario. Make sure France is offset by commas.

Let’s revisit Mary.

  • Member of the board Mary has asked that we attend this important meeting.

We’ve established you can’t remove Mary from the sentence. You can, however, remove ‘member of the board’. When one of two nouns/noun phrases can be removed but the other can’t, we’re in essential territory. The noun that cannot be removed is the appositive and does not need commas.

All clear?

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Essential business grammar lesson three: who or whom?

Who or whom: WHOM in big letters

Who did what to whom?

‘In spite of the outraged howls of traditionalists, the word whom is all but dead in English, even in formal written English.’ – R.L. Trask, linguistics professor, from his book Mind the Gaffe.

That said, there are occasions where formal, grammatically correct business writing is called for. Luckily, in such circumstances, deciding whether to use who or whom is easier than you’d think.

Who

‘Who’ refers to the subject of a sentence. The subject is the person, place, or thing doing the action.

  • It was James who wrote the press release.

In this example, James (who) is doing the writing.

Whom

‘Whom’, on the other hand, refers to the object of a sentence. The object is the person, place, or thing being acted on.

  • Whom did Alicia speak to?

In this example, the object (whom) was spoken to by Alicia (the subject).

Tips and tricks

If identifying the subject and object of a sentence proves difficult, try this quick trick: reword the sentence so you can replace who/whom with he/him.

  • It was James—he wrote the press release. If ‘he’ is the natural replacement, use ‘who’ in the original sentence.
  • Alicia spoke to him. If ‘him’ is the natural replacement, use ‘whom’ in the original sentence.

Another trick is to avoid the use of who or whom altogether. Reword the sentence so it does not include this pronoun.

  • James wrote the press release.
  • Did Alicia speak to him?

If none of the above clear up your confusion, stick to using only ‘who.’ In this case, it’s OK to choose geniality over good grammar.

Common examples of the correct use of who or whom

  • To whom it may concern:
  • Robert Cunningham, whom I supervise at the city newspaper, is a dedicated and talented writer.
  • It was he who implemented a new style guide for our daily publication and wrote the award-winning article ‘Spontaneous Bee Deaths in the Twenty-First Century’.

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How we work: HubSpot checklists and naming conventions

HubSpot checklist: HubSpot Attract Convert Close Delight inbound methodology diagram

We’re big fans of HubSpot. We use it to attract, convert, close and delight our own customers and we manage HubSpot campaigns for clients.

It’s the world’s number one marketing platform. More than 10,000 companies run their marketing on HubSpot, generating more website traffic, leads and sales.

Articulate is a certified HubSpot partner with a team of HubSpot certified marketing and content experts. We help you harness the power of HubSpot to grow your business.

HubSpot Agency certificate for Articulate Marketing

However, using the software and passing the exams is only part of the story. There are lots of moving parts in HubSpot and it pays to take a disciplined approach by using checklists. Without them it’s easy to make a mistake or miss something important. (We like the Checklist Manifesto and we have published our briefing and our proofreading checklists.)

With this in mind, we’re sharing our in-house HubSpot checklists.

Naming conventions

Using consistent abbreviations and names makes it easy to use the search tools in HubSpot to shortlist stuff. For example, search for ‘LP’ and you’ll see all the landing pages. Search for AM and you’ll see everything for Articulate Marketing. So for example, ‘AM LP 10 minute guide TOFU’

  • LP – Landing page
  • TY – Thank you page
  • TOFU – Top of funnel
  • MOFU – Middle of funnel
  • AM  – Articulate Marketing
  • TU – Turbine

Landing page HubSpot checklist

On the main edit page

  • Does the internal name use the proper naming convention?
  • Does the page title include relevant keywords and the company name (usually at the end)?
  • Is the page URL short, sensible and does it contain relevant keywords?
  • Is the form title short so that the title doesn’t spill over two lines?
  • Have you picked the right form (ideally use a smart form but without too many fields)?
  • Does the form have a sensible action button (NOT ‘Submit’)
  • Have you set up a redirect to a TY page?
  • Test the redirect URL
  • Have you added form submission notifications? Are they the right people?
  • Have you added a suitable workflow? Note that the workflow first step should normally send the confirmation email.
  • On the options tab, did you pick a campaign?
  • On the options tab, did you enter a keyword-optimised meta description?

Pictures and text

  • Are there keyword-optimised Alt tags for all the images?
  • Are images stored in the correct folder in HubSpot?
  • Do images have keyword-optimised file names?
  • Have you proofread the text on the form?
  • Did you print it out and do the proofreading again? Really?
  • Is there a compelling headline and subheading?
  • When adding images, did you use the correct domain on the image chooser? (usually info.domain.tld)

Completion and testing

  • Preview the page using all the different formats – does it make sense on a mobile / tablet?
  • Did you click ‘Update’ so that changes are actually saved?
  • Test the form in an anonymous browser window for that box-fresh experience.
  • Did you get the email?
  • Did you get the TY page?

Thank you page HubSpot checklist

On the main edit page

  • Does the internal name use the proper naming convention?
  • Does the page title include relevant keywords and the company name (usually at the end)?
  • Is it different from the matching LP (don’t duplicate page titles)
  • Is the page URL short, sensible and does it contain relevant keywords?
  • Is it different from the matching LP (don’t duplicate URLs)
  • On the options tab, did you enter a keyword-optimised meta description?
  • Is it different from the matching LP (don’t duplicate meta descriptions)
  • On the options tab, did you pick a campaign?

Social media buttons

  • Did you add a link to the LP (not the TY page – we want to capture new leads from shares)
  • Did you add the offer image to the Pinterest button?

Pictures and text

  • Are there keyword-optimised Alt tags for all the images?
  • Are images stored in the correct folder in HubSpot?
  • Does the cover image also link to the file?
  • Is the download link underlined like a proper hyperlink? (Some templates don’t do this automatically)
  • Do images have keyword-optimised file names?
  • Have you proofread the text on the form?
  • Did you print it out and do the proofreading again? Really?
  • When adding images, did you use the correct domain on the image chooser? (usually info.domain.tld)

Completion and testing

  • Preview the page using all the different formats – does it make sense on a mobile / tablet?
  • Did you click ‘Update’ so that changes are actually saved?
  • Test the form in an anonymous browser window for that box-fresh experience.
  • When you click on the link and image do you get the PDF?
  • Did you click on all the social media buttons and get the right thing?
  • Check the text that appears in social media posts eg the Twitter and LinkedIn posts generated by these buttons
  • Did you click on all the secondary links and CTAs and menu options and get the right pages?

Email HubSpot checklist

On the information panel

  • Is the internal name correct (using the correct abbreviations etc.)
  • Correct sender – use a real person!
  • Assigned to the correct campaign?
  • Correct email type and email footer (this is important for legal reasons)
  • For TY emails, use a template with a CTA sidebar to generate a follow-up action
  • Add preview text
  • Add social sharing buttons
  • Check the link for the sharing. For TY emails it should point to the original LP otherwise use page URL
  • Choose a picture for the Pinterest link

Subject and body

  • Double-check for ‘Smart content’ variants of the email body and review all of them!
  • If possible include some kind of personalisation in the subject line (but only if you’re sure the database has the right data)
  • Subject line < 50 characters
  • If necessary, include a blank line at the top of the email for spacing
  • Personalise email with first name, company name etc. where appropriate
  • For TY emails, use a PDF download icon as well as the link text to the downloadable asset
  • Ensure that images are also clickable
  • Keep the text concise, scannable, objective and focused on the reader’s needs
  • Use links, CTAs and bullets where appropriate to add value
  • Add a signature line, ideally with an actual signature plus contact information for a real person

Testing

  • Review HubSpot’s Suggestions (bottom right hand button) and act on any highlighted problems
  • Proofread. Proofread again. Send it to someone else to proofread
  • Send test email to yourself and test all the links
  • Review test email on mobile device and in desktop email client
  • Preview the email in all formats using the preview tool
  • Test again using the ‘View preview as…’ to select a recipient to test customisation
  • Once finalised, run the ‘Preview in other in other inboxes’ test for the default selected apps and devices and check results

Sending

  • Double check the recipient lists. Don’t send to everyone unless you absolutely definitely want to.
  • Consider sending on a specific time of day – typically first thing in the morning works best

 

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Essential business grammar lesson two: subject-verb agreement

subject-verb agreement: locate picture

LOLCats are funny in part because they deliberately have terrible grammar; in particular because they routinely mix up the subject-verb agreement. Now, we all feel safer thinking cats don’t really know how to ask for a cheeseburger, but in business we should make sure we get it right. So, what is the correct way to ask for a cheeseburger?

  • Can I have a cheeseburger, please?
  • I would like a cheese burger please.

Both of these work because both have subject-verb agreement.

How do I make subjects and verbs agree?

In foreign languages, subject-verb agreement is handled by conjugation; verbs take on different forms depending if you’re talking about him, her, them or us. However, the English language is not so specific.

  • I have it. You have it. She/he/it has it. We have it. They have it.

Only the third-person she/he/it uses a different form of the verb. This pattern remains constant for regular verbs.

  • I want. She wants.
  • You write. He writes.
  • They edit. We edit. She edits.

Irregular verbs

There are a few verbs, such as ‘to be’ which do not follow this pattern. There are lists of them online, and whilst they are pretty straight forward for native English speakers, they can easily trip you up when you are talking about more than one person.

Verbs for more than one person

When using ‘and’ to talk about two people at once, the verb takes on the plural (they) form.

This is especially evident when looking at forms of ‘to be’.

  • Lily is the new hire. Lily and Violet are the new hires.

Conjunctions like neither or either, when used alone, are singular. If you are talking about either of two people (or groups of people), you are really indicating one of them.

  • Neither of the team leaders is doing their job.

Modifiers like ‘as well as’ or ‘along with’ are also treated as singular because they single out one subject.

  • Brian, along with Tammy, is co-authoring the paper.

For ‘or’ the verb agrees with the noun closest to it.

  • Neither the foreman nor his construction workers are here on time to start the office renovations.
  • Neither the construction workers nor the foreman is here on time to start the office renovations.

Note that companies are singular entities. It’s ‘Microsoft is’ NOT ‘Microsoft are’.

Examples of correct subject-verb agreement

  • Justine is working on the help desk today.
  • Neither the vice president nor the COO want to attend.
  • Evan and his team are testing the prototype.

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How I learned to love Mondays again

Your monday morning enthusiasm is creating a hostile work environment - WRONG - learn to love Mondays

I’m writing this at 8:43 on a Monday morning. Mondays can be grim. Like most people I find the transition from weekending to working a struggle. Worse: I’ve trained myself to get up early, meaning the day starts with the electric shock of a 6am alarm.

But Mondays can also be wonderful. It’s about attitude not chronology. They’re like the New Year. Anything is possible. That feeling means that, for me, Mondays are a good day for thinking, planning and looking ahead.

Tell me why I love Mondays

Over the last year, I’ve changed a lot about my weekly routine to refactor Mondays along these lines. For example:

  • Book routine meetings. I try to have all my routine meetings on a Monday including regular planning meetings, status calls and client catch-up calls. I schedule Articulate’s weekly traffic planning meetings on Mondays as well as planning meetings with my super-PA, Liz. This helps set the direction and tone for the week without breaking up productive working time on other days.
  • Refresh mind and body. Start with some exercise (I really like Runkeeper – it keeps me on track) and end with some meditation (ideally at the South London Zendo but if not then using Headspace).
  • Keep house. Mondays are also my day for any kind of domestic stuff (I mainly work from home). My cleaners come on a Monday. So does my wonderful cook, Jo, and she fills the fridge with food for the next few days. (Having a cook sounds very Downton Abbey but actually she saves me time and money relative to shopping and cooking for myself. It works well for her too because she normally does outside catering weekends and evenings so I can fill up a blank space in her diary with regular work.) By the end of the day, the house is clean and tidy and there’s lots of lovely food. A great start to the week.
  • Update and review metrics. I collate all our metrics into a report and share it: sales funnel, copy deliveries, HubSpot contacts and website traffic stats as well as some financial data including cash flow and invoicing. This gives me a really clear picture of the state of the business and contributes to our open culture.
  • Write weekly email. If I haven’t already done it over the weekend, I write my weekly email to my colleagues about what has been going on in the business.
  • Set agendas. I also write the agenda for Articulate’s traffic call in a Basecamp discussion. Agendas like this help us have better meetings. For me, it means looking through all our client projects and seeing what copy is due to be delivered in the next week and having a first pass at allocating it. This gives me a really clear picture of the content creation side of the business. My colleague Clare does the same for the blog studio and updates the Basecamp discussion with her contributions before the meeting.
  • Book thinking time. I actively schedule thinking time into Monday. For example ‘prepare for meeting with x’ or ‘think about refactoring y’. This goes in the diary and helps me get my head straight for important things that are coming up.
  • Put the day on autopilot. With everything booked up and a strong routine in place, I don’t have to think too hard about what’s happening next and by the end of the day the rest of the week is all planned out and, hopefully, free of interruptions and distractions.

Instead of feeling oppressed by the start of the week, Mondays help me back into a working routine. Mondays are busy, buzzy and full of routine and familiar, comforting patterns. Refactoring Monday has changed it from the worst day of the week to the most exciting. What’s your Monday routine? What can you do to learn to love Mondays?

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