The Oxford comma refers to the practice of including a comma before the final (or “penultimate,” for those of you studying for your SATs) word in a list, such as:
… dogs, cats, and fish.
It still looks wrong to me – I was taught not to use a comma with the word “and” – but my brother, who literally has a degree from Oxford along with lots of acronyms that go after his name, says it is the way to go.
Apparently, both are grammatically correct.
What matters in your writing, speaking, and marketing, in general, is that you remain consistent.
It’s something I do several times each week.
I copied it because as much as I love creating newsletters for clients, I hate the very first step in the writing process.
That’s when, after getting off the phone with a client, I am left with a word doc filled (to varying degrees) with a jumble of notes, thoughts, quotes, and miscellany.
Organizing all of this into something terrific always feels like an impossibly high mountain to climb.
And so, I begin by copying the previous month’s final draft for that client – the draft that we both agreed was “perfect” – and dropping it into my document, below all my notes.
Somehow, and even though this copying step does nothing to change the mishmash of notes up top, having a completed newsletter mixed into the same document starts the ball rolling for me.
Many activities, not just writing (exercising, dieting, yelling at children, etc.), are hardest at the beginning.
See if you can find a reliable way to get the ball rolling in your own work day, even if it means playing mind tricks with yourself.
Every advice-giving blogger and/or efficiency expert on Earth says the same thing about how much you should check your email during the day: Do it less often.
Two, three, five times a day. Whatever the specifics, the idea is that you’ll be much more productive if you limit the distraction that is email.
I ignore that advice – I check email all the time.
In between thoughts, in between phone calls, in between writing. Sometimes, I even check email in between responding to email.
Two reasons why:
#1. I’m not in the efficiency business.
I get paid to write quality content, give clients good advice, and develop useful products. None of those things are highly correlated with time or even effort.
#2. Email is fun.
It’s my social time, my office water cooler. After all, I sit alone in an office all day long; distraction is not exactly high on my list of problems that need solving.
So, should you copy what I’m doing? Not necessarily, and that’s the point.
Listen to the “experts,” but make your own rules. Isn’t that a big part of why you decided to work for yourself in the first place?
I canceled my subscription more than two years ago, when I began to realize that I had never even heard of half the people they were writing about, let alone cared.
And so for two years, every couple of months, they send me a “resubscribe offer.”
And it’s always exactly the same thing: 50% off the cover price and a free Rolling Stone tote bag.
Wouldn’t you think that by now, were I in need of a tote bag, I would have made a move?
Why not try something else? A coffee mug, a T-Shirt, a night out with Keith Richards?
If some aspect of your marketing isn’t working, it’s time to try something different.
This morning, at precisely 10:41 am, I looked at my list of client deadlines and realized that there was nothing that needed to be worked on at the moment.
My answer is always the same: Keep moving.
Reach out to people you’ve fallen out of touch with. Update the copy on your web site. Read and post some updates on LinkedIn.
When you have a job, you spend a lot of time responding to what comes at you.
When you work for yourself, it’s up to you to make things happen.
The more you do to stay active, the more good things come your way.