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Why to Ditch Your To-Do List and Pay Bonuses in Cash, Plus More Tips for January

Plus a good reason to set an alarm to beep at you every hour.

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Why to Ditch Your To-Do List and Pay Bonuses in Cash, Plus More Tips for January

PLAnningRiff, Don’t Stiff

When brainstorming, improvising, jamming with others, you’ll go much further and deeper if you build upon each contribution with a playful “yes — and” example instead of a deflating “no — but” reply, says WIRED co-founder Kevin Kelly on his blog.

COMMUNICATIONBlind Double Carbon

This is one of those, “How come nobody told me” tips: If you want to send an email to a group while ensuring that only you receive the replies (thus ensuring your inbox doesn’t fill up with witty but irrelevant banter), don’t type “Please Do Not ‘Reply All.’” Make it impossible for your employees to do so by putting them in BCC, from where they are only able to reply to you and not the group.

MANAGEMENTBonus in Cash

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder and CEO of fashion brand Vera Bradley, has maintained a personal touch throughout the retailer’s impressive growth to $500 million in annual sales. When the company first started, the leadership would put $50 in employees’ birthday cards with a note that said: “This has to be spent on you.” As the company has expanded to 3,000 employees, there’s still a $50 bill in each card. “Finance asks every year if we can just put the money in people’s paychecks, and I say no,” Bradley Baekgaard told the NRF’s online magazine. “When you have found money in cash, it’s just more meaningful.”

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PRODUCTIVITYBeep Beep

Some jobs, such as managing a retail store, are prone to interruptions, which can make them exciting as you rush from point to point to deal with problems or help customers, but it can play havoc on achieving your goals for the day. In 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, And Get The Right Things Done, Peter Bregman recommends you do the following: Set your phone to beep every hour, and when that timer goes off, take a deep breath and ask yourself, am I doing what I need to be doing right now? If you’re with a client — great. Ignore it. If you’re doing something constructive, you’ll feel good. If you’ve gotten sidetracked by something that’s really not all that important, it will get you back on track.

ORGANIZATIONThis Year, Ditch Your To-Do List

Studies show the vast majority of items that go on to-do lists never get done. Consultant Kelly Nolan suggests in its place you try her “Bright Method.” It boils down to blocking out time for everything in a digital calendar (including waking, showering, dressing, exercising, etc.) so that you know what you can say yes and no to. Nolan finds that the system empowers people to make good decisions “because they realize when it’s actually impossible to take something else on.”

MANAGEMENTRecord Your Progress

One of the problems with being the boss is that few people will give you feedback on your performance or offer kind words to inspire you. Yet studies show that the single biggest motivator of performance is the feeling of making progress on a meaningful task. So, you may have to go out and find the feedback yourself. The best way to do that, says author Dan Pink, is to establish a progress ritual. “At the end of every day, take just 60 seconds to record what progress you made that day.” You may be pleasantly surprised by just how much you are getting done.

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