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Written by ProfitGuide Staff

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Read with speed: Making short work of long reports

Who wouldn’t like to accelerate their reading without missing meaning or sacrificing recall? You can do it, says Lucy MacDonald, a Montreal-based speaker and the author of Learn to Manage Your Time, by knowing what information you want from a document before you read it. If you only need an outline, for example, skim documents for essential facts. A detailed analysis requires you to slow down enough to absorb more information. Here are MacDonald’s other top speed-reading tips:

Read the introduction and conclusion first. They will tell you whether the rest of the information is worth exploring.

Skim less important words. Look for key words and phrases that contain main ideas and skim over less important words. You’ll immediately get the essence of documents.

Trace the lines. Train your eyes to read quickly by using your finger or a ruler to guide you through lines of text.

Avoid repetition. “Keep reading even if you don’t understand something right away,” MacDonald advises. Core ideas are often explained more than once or elaborated on later in the document.

Rest for success: four ways to get more ZZZs

When faced with a pressing deadline or challenge, entrepreneurs often try to overcompensate by working more and sleeping less. The problem is that losing just one hour of sleep a night for a week will make you as clumsy and stupid as pulling an all-nighter. To get the rest you need…

Turn it off. Experiment with cognitive relaxation therapies, like meditation. Try imagining peaceful scenes, controlled breathing or listening to relaxation tapes.

Don’t bring the office home. Thirty-four percent of Canadians bring work home, according to a 2002 study conducted by Leger Marketing. Bringing your work home doesn’t help to put you in a relaxing frame of mind to go to sleep. Shut off your computer, cellphone and pager to disconnect from work, suggests Gary Baskerville, spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council of Canada.

Make your bedroom a sleep haven. If you are one of the 45% of Canadians with a TV in their bedroom, remove it — and your phone, pager, computer and PDA. Research shows you’ll sleep better in an environment that’s conducive to peace and relaxation.

Set aside worry time. Is worry keeping you awake? Schedule some worry time. Sit down and list all your problems, then think about possible solutions. Committing positive think time to your troubles will allow you to “put them to rest” before you turn in.

Power networking: make more connections that count

Avoid the competition. Attend functions less likely to be frequented by industry colleagues, suggests Vancouver-based Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, co-author of Work the Pond. There will be less competition and more prospective buyers.

Go early. Get to an event early and position yourself at the entrance of the room. That way you can meet people as they come in and also touch base with people you know, says Hallgren-Rezac. A quick chat with a business associate beats voice-mail and e-mail tag.

Wear your name tag. A name tag can actually do some of the work for you, says Joan Kulmala, president of Thunder Bay, Ont.-based Totally-U Image Communications. People don’t have to ask your name (which can be awkward), and it invites them to inquire about your company.

Turn on your prospect radar. It’s easy: ask probing questions of people you meet and listen carefully to their responses to determine whether they’re looking for your product or service.

Do lunch with a crowd. Instead of a tête-à-tête at a fancy restaurant, invite a guest to a business luncheon that features a speaker of mutual interest, says Hallgren-Rezac. You will be able to introduce your client to your network, and your client may return the favour.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com