A Linking Mess: Week of 01/06/13

“Rational” resolutions for 2014 — The Wall Street Journal

It’s not too late for resolutions, is it? This article gets into the science of “optimized decision-making,” helping people set achievable goals and strategies to meet those goals. The category that appealed most to me is “structured procrastination.” I read about this approach years ago, and believe heartily in it. Basically, if you know you’re going to procrastinate on a project, get something unrelated done. Clean the kitchen or get some exercise. It’s a way to stay away from Facebook and cat videos and actually get something accomplished.

Let’s ban some buzzwords in 2014 — The Wall Street Journal

How do you feel about buzzwords? I’ve noticed that the more a person cares about words, the more they take issue with buzzwords. Good writers know that clarity is king, and a judicious use of industry or business terminology is the right way to go. In other words, good writers choose the right place to use these words. Also, the way I see it, buzzwords (or, to be more accurate, buzz phrases) fall into two categories: 1) words or phrases that are easily understood by all but are cliché to the point of distraction and meaninglessness – such as “low-hanging fruit” or “thinking outside the box”; 2) terminology used by someone who wants to sound more sophisticated and in-the-know, but often just causes the target audience to pause in confusion – “de-layering,” for example, which is a softer way to say your company is going to fire people. The latest one to bother me: “onboard.” As in, “We need to onboard that new employee.” Don’t be pretentious; just say you’re going to give the person an orientation so they can start doing their job.

Leaders need to write well — LinkedIn

I have a couple issues with this article which stresses how business leaders need to be solid writers because their words create an image of their company. First, why just leaders? (Many readers asked the same question in the “comments” section.) Also, I think the writer of this piece goes a little far in what good writing can do for a company or brand – check out his four main points and see if you agree. But he nails it when he says that “bad writing…saps you of credibility and damages your personal and company brands.” In most instances of business communication, I view writing as the umpire in a baseball game. If you do your job well, you won’t be noticed, but if you screw up, you’ll stick out like a soar thumb. (See, like that! I used the incorrect spelling of “sore.” Now wouldn’t you question everything else I write after seeing that?)