“You and I” or “You and me”?

Some people think the word I should always be used when referring to oneself, especially when other names are being used in the sentence. While I and me are both first person singular pronouns, I is a subject pronoun, and me is an object pronoun. So what does that mean?

As the subject pronoun, I refers to the person performing the action of the verb. As the object pronoun, me refers to the person that the action of the verb is being done to. So how would you complete the sentences below? 

1. Stacy and ? are going for a hike.

 2. John took Stacy and ? for a hike.

1. Stacy and I/me are the subjects of the word going, therefore you would use the word I.

Stacy and I are going for a hike.   

            2. Stacy and I/me are the objects of the word took, therefore you would use the word me.

John took Stacy and me for a hike.

When in doubt, try removing the other people from the sentence. Using the examples above:  

1. “I am going for a hike.” or “Me is going for a hike.”

2. “John took I for a hike.” or “John took me for a hike.”

Thanks for reading this week's Mindful Monday Tip! Feel free to share, and be sure to check back for more mindful tips for mindful business!

 

Using a Comma before “And”

The inspiration for my Mindful Monday Tips often comes directly from questions that people ask me. So a quick shout out to my husband for giving me today’s idea. Yesterday he mentioned being unsure of when to use a comma before the word And.

It is always necessary to use a comma before And when it’s being used to join two independent clauses (groups of words with both a subject and a verb that can stand alone as a sentence).

This same rule applies when using any of the coordinating conjunctions to join two independent clauses together. (Coordinating conjunctions include the words And, But, So, Or, Yet, Nor, and For.) So in the examples below, the first sentence does not require a comma because there is only one independent clause. The second sentence does require the comma because the word And is joining two independent clauses together. Notice how subtle the difference is…

“Sophie has written several books and even has two best-sellers.”

“Sophie has written several books, and she even has two best-sellers.”

Do you find using commas confusing? If so, you’re not alone! There are so many rules regarding comma usage in the English language, it can be hard to keep them all straight! Where do you tend to get hung up the most?

Protecting Your Computer

Work often has us so busy that it’s easy to forget to perform the necessary maintenance for keeping our own businesses running smoothly. We spend most of our time working on our clients’ projects, leaving little time to focus on our own administrative duties. You know, those tasks that fall to the bottom of the priority list because they have no deadlines? The sometimes tedious and often time-consuming duties that, while not much fun, really are such an important part of your business.

The two tasks I’m referring to are backing up your computer, as I mentioned in last week’s Mindful Monday Tip, and protecting your computer against malware. As long as you have a good security program installed and updated, a weekly quick scan should be sufficient. If you attempt to open an infected file, your anti-malware software should detect this and stop you from opening the file. Just be sure to update all of your system and program applications as the updates become available. It's important to always have the latest versions, which may include important security fixes.

If the program you use offers scheduled scans, set it to do so weekly. Perhaps over the weekend or another time when you might use your computer less frequently. Personally, I try to wrap up client work by the end of the day Thursday or Friday morning. That way I can dedicate Fridays (or at least Friday afternoons) to working on my own business maintenance, like running necessary updates and malware scans.

Make sure your computer is protected at all times! And feel free to share this Mindful Monday Tip to remind your followers to do so as well. 

Backing Up Your Files (A Cautionary Tale)

How often do you backup your computer? Weekly? Monthly? Whenever you think of it?? Never???

I can’t stress the importance of backing up your data enough! If you don’t put much stock into doing so, I’ll tell you a quick personal story that may change your mind. Several years ago, the hard drive in my personal laptop died. The majority of my digital photos resided on that hard drive, and existed nowhere else in the world. So when the laptop went, it took all those precious memories with it. I was devastated. So much so, that I paid a recovery company over $1,000 to recover as much of my lost data as possible. That was an expensive lesson to learn! And it was a mistake I will NEVER make again!

So these days I am diligent about backing up my data. For my personal computer, which I access pretty infrequently, I backup my files monthly. For my business, I backup my files weekly. I have a reminder that pops up in my email and on my phone every Friday, so once I’ve wrapped up my work for the week, the last thing I do before the weekend is run my backup.

Do you have a dismal computer-crash story like mine? Or one with a happier ending, where a backup saved your behind? Share your story in the comments below.

Who vs. Whom

Are you confused about when to use Who versus Whom? The answer is actually pretty straightforward. Who is always the subject of a verb. Whom is never the subject of a verb. But if that’s equally as confusing to you, here’s a quick tip that’s easy to remember: He = Who / Him = Whom. Take these sentences for example:  

___ went to the park today? (He did, so you would use the word who.)

With ___ did she go to the park today? (She went to the park with him, therefore you would use the word whom.)

If you found this Mindful Monday Tip helpful, feel free to share it! And be sure to check back next Monday for more helpful advice. 

Finding Center On Your Lunch Break

Those of you who know me personally, know how into nature I am. There is nothing more grounding for me than sitting outside and taking in the beauty of our natural environment. I recently met Christine Elder through a colleague. She does amazingly realistic nature sketches, with a focus on birds. Thanks to her, I’ve realized how therapeutic creating nature sketches can be!

Take your lunch break outside and give it a try! You’ll be amazed by how much more centered you’ll feel when you return to your work! There’s something so meditative about getting outdoors, observing nature and creating something beautiful. Everything else seems to melt away while your attention is focused on your subject and your drawing, and in the end, you really feel a sense of renewal. It’s such a great way to get your mind off of work for a few minutes, and can make all the difference in the remainder of your afternoon.

You can grab Christine’s step-by-step tutorial, Sketching Backyard Birds for Beginners here. 

Mindful Leadership Quote

“Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one's reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.”  

-William W. George, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School

The Mysterious Semicolon

The thought of using the semicolon strikes fear in the hearts of many. Okay, maybe it’s not quite so dramatic, but people tend to either use it incorrectly, or simply avoid using it altogether. However, the mysterious semicolon is really quite simple. It separates two independent clauses that are related to each other.

Semicolons are particularly useful for combining sentences when you have lots of short ones and need to mix it up a bit. Just remember, the two clauses of your sentence must be related to each other, and each should have the ability to stand on its own as a complete sentence. So be brave; use the semicolon!

Mindfulness in Business

Mindfulness means being in the present. In business, I believe it’s important to be ever aware of what we’re doing when carrying out our day to day work. It’s so easy to just operate on auto-pilot, especially when we’re working on tasks that we carry out frequently. However, every job we do, every client we work with, every assignment we delve into, has some human element to it. Keeping in mind why we’re doing what we’re doing, and for whom we’re doing it, produces a degree of thoughtfulness that is meaningful and authentic. So make a note in the corner of your to-do list, or put a sticky note on your monitor reminding yourself to be mindful each and every day.   

Mindfulness

"Mindfulness isn't just something you practice during a 10-minute morning meditation session. It can be incorporated throughout your everyday life by simply paying a little more attention to your daily activities as you're performing them." - Carolyn Gregoire, 13 Things Mindful People Do Differently Every Day

Their, There, They're

Last week’s Mindful Monday Tip was about the commonly, but mistakenly interchanged words, you’re and your.  Similarly, their, there, and they’re are words that I see people mix up frequently. 

Their, (which is a fun one because it also breaks the, “i before e except after c" rule), is a pronoun and is used as the possessive form of they, meaning something belongs to someone previously identified.  For example, “John and Jane left their car running.”  It can also be used in place of his or her when the masculine or feminine forms are unknown.  “Someone left their car running.” 

There actually has various uses, but is most commonly used as an adverb.  It can refer to a place, a point in an action, or a particular manner.  There can also be used as a pronoun, a noun, an adjective, or an interjection.  A little confusing, right?  Don’t worry, it’s much simpler than it sounds.  Here are some examples that will help clear up any uncertainty:   

There as an adverb:  “We are there.”  “She stopped there to reflect on what they just discussed.”  “I can understand why he got confused there.”

There as a pronoun:  There is no hope.” 

There as a noun:  “You’re on your own from there.”

There as an adjective:  “See that tree there?”

There as an interjection:  There!  This list is finally done!”     

If you’re still a little unclear, the easiest thing to do is remember when to use their and they’re, and then just use there in all other instances. 

I’ve left they’re for last because I think it’s the easiest to remember since it’s the only contraction of the three and has just one simple meaning:  they are.  They’re going on a road trip.” 

If you tend to confuse these three words, be sure to bookmark this Mindful Monday Tip so you can refer back whenever you need to!    

You’re vs. Your

In thinking of words that I see misused most frequently, you're and your would have to be at the very top of my list.  These words are not interchangeable, so be sure to know which to use. 

You’re means you are.  Your means it belongs to you.

Remember to check back each Monday for more helpful Mindful Monday tips!

Overusing Words

When it comes to writing, many people have a habit of overusing certain words.  Good, Great, Really, and Very are among some of the most common.  Of course the goal of any written material is to make a point, but if you intend to keep your reader’s attention, you’ll want to use vivid, descriptive words.  Try to strike a balance between compelling and fluffy though, keeping in mind your audience and writing directly to them.  Here’s a great article from Writers Write about overuse of the word very:  

45 Ways to Avoid Using the Word ‘Very’

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”  -N.H. Kleinbaum

 

Nother is Not a Word

Nother is not a word.  As in, “She bought a whole nother set.”  The correction to this statement is, “She bought a whole other set.”  Or you could go with, “She bought another set.” 

I can still remember asking my second grade teacher how to spell the word nother.  I was always good with spelling and vocabulary as a kid, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find a spelling that looked correct to me.  My teacher was a little confused and asked me to use it in a sentence, which I did.  I recall her smiling sweetly and explaining that, while used frequently, nother isn’t actually a word.  She made me feel smart for having asked though, and I think that’s why I still remember the conversation to this day.  

I think for most of us, if we take a minute to think about it, we know that nother isn’t really a word.  However it’s used so frequently, I think because it just flows off the tongue so easily.  Remember though, we don’t necessarily want to write the way we speak.  We want our business communications especially, to be more refined. 

So next time you feel compelled to type the word nother, remember this Mindful Monday Tip and refrain!  Check back next Monday for more helpful advice, and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Affect vs. Effect

If you want your business to come across as credible, it's important to use proper grammar in all your written communications.  From your website to your marketing materials, you want to present your company as the authority on whatever it is you do.  You just won't accomplish that with bad grammar. 

Understanding the difference between affect and effect seems to be a pretty common dilemma.  So here’s a quick and simple explanation:  Affect is typically used as a verb to describe influence, as in, “I hope this blog post positively affects your writing going forward.”  Effect is usually used as a noun to describe a result, as in, “This blog post should have a positive effect on your writing.”

So next time you're faced with the conundrum of whether to use affect or effect, remember this Mindful Monday Tip.  Check back next Monday for more helpful advice, and be sure to follow me on Twitter so you'll never miss an update!