Frequently Asked Questions

Feb 4th, 2015

FAQs for Contributors



Return to Contributor Welcome Information

If you would like to apply to be one of the authors for the “Top Tens,” please download the Contributor Application form either the pdf version if you have Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Writer or the Word version, and then send it to me as an attachment, along with a sample set of tips.

How do you define productivity for the purposes of the TTPT series?

I use “productivity” fairly broadly. It’s not time management only, it’s not information management only, it’s not clutter (vs. no clutter); it’s broader than that. So here’s what you can focus on: We want the people who read what the Top Ten Productivity Tips you have written to learn ways

to do what they need to do more easily,
more peacefully, and more predictably.

To repeat this… Productivity is being able to do what you need to do – more easily and/or more peacefully and/or more predictably.

You can ask yourself, when you’re writing out your ideas: Hey, are these tips going to either help coaches or entrepreneurs or professors or women or writers? (which are the current series).

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Are the series for the Top Ten Productivity Tips separate, and if so, can I contribute to more than one series?

Yes. The five different series (coaches, entrepreneurs, professors, women, & writers) are all completely separate. Subscribers will choose which of these series they want to receive. So, for example, somebody who is a coach, could say, “You know what? I need ideas for how do I make sure that I’m helping my new coaching clients… How can I be more productive doing that?” and they could seek help through the Top Ten Productivity Tips for Coaching. Or, “How in the world can I possibly manage all the paperwork that comes from Central Office?” What are some productivity tips for that? That’s what they are going to be looking for, vs. ideas for writers or for professors.

If you have expertise in more than one area – for example, you are a professor and a prolific writer and have experience in both areas, then yes, you could write a set of tips for professors and a different set of tips for writers.

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Are all the Top Ten Productivity Tips series free to subscribers, as well?

Amazingly… yes. Call me a nut, but that’s how it works. Incredible information for people to access for free.

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Who owns the copyright for the tips that are contributed?

You own them. The writer. You will maintain your copyright, so one of the things that you can put in your contact information or resource box is the little copyright symbol © and then your name or your company’s name – whatever/whoever it is that owns your intellectual property.

The agreement is that when you send me a list of Top Ten Productivity Tips, you know that I’m publishing it through my outlets, but that you maintain the copyright. I will not own the copyright to what you do; you’ll own the copyright.

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May I recommend other writers for the Top Ten Productivity Tips?

Yes, if they are knowledgeable!! For example, if you are one of the people who writes tips for the TTPT for Coaches, you want to recruit other excellent coaches to write for us. That way, subscribers know that there are consistent, practical, reasonable ideas that are going to be coming for them when they subscribe. This ensures that subscribers stay with it and that they keep learning and that they keep getting better – and that they recommend the Top Ten Productivity Tips to their friends and colleagues.

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How long will my ideas be ‘out there’ for people to access?

With the web, it’s pretty much forever, which is what we want, in this case. Whatever you write will continue to be ‘out there’ for others to access and learn from (and to find out about you!) for a very long time. We will have new subscribers every single week – as well as our continuing subscribers.

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Do we need to fill out the Application Form?

Yes. If you haven’t already accessed it, please download either the pdf version if you have Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Writer or the Word version, and then send it to me as an attachment.  Please include your completed tips with the application.

The reasons I need you to fill that out include:

  1. We need your contact information. I am not giving anybody else the information you put down in your Contributor Form, but Margo (my ever-amazing assistant) may need to call you about Hey, we’re not sure about this or We tried to find this book. Could you possibly have the name a little bit wrong? We need to know the best ways to get in touch with you.
  2. I need to ‘verify’ the people who are applying to be part of this project. I want to know who people are and whether it is a good fit, all the way around. When people I know apply, it’s no big deal. As soon as their names comes through, I approve them. There are other people who apply and I need to go look at their website before I approve the person, because I’m not going to have somebody be a contributor who is a knucklehead and has a scary or, what in my judgment, would be a creepy website. I don’t want my stuff on their webpage. So those questions that are on there, you just fill them out to the best of your knowledge and go ahead and send that in.

Please send in  the application form with your tips included.  Applications will not be accepted without your tips.

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What format should we use for submitting our Top Ten Productivity Tips?

  1. Title: We will always want a title because otherwise Margo and I have to try to come up with a title, and it’s not that we can’t, but we’d rather have you send these in as complete as possible and you may not like the title we come up with.  So, send us your best title.
  2. Introduction: Your introduction can be one sentence or a full paragraph. It’s just a little introductory piece that prepares everyone for the tips you have written. For example, You know how you always wonder about this or If you’ve ever had this happen and you’ve tried to figure out if there are any solutions, well, here are 10 tips for… just give the reader a little bit of an intro so that it isn’t just your title and then Tip 1, Tip 2. People like just the tiniest bit of preparation, e.g., Here’s what I’m about to read about. So one sentence up to about a paragraph is usually plenty.
  3. Your tips: This is what people are there for. Ten Productivity Tips for ______.  And if you are wondering “Now, how long do these need to be?” the answer is, “It depends.” Those of you who are subscribers to the current Top 10 know that some weeks I provide a pretty short, bulleted list.  It is short, just bing, bing, bing.  Nothing extra.  Other times, you may have a tip and then an explanatory sentence or two. I am going to leave that up to you. It isn’t that we couldn’t all explain on some of our tips for about 16 pages, but the idea is that people want something quick. “Tips” is what they are looking for here.  People are more likely to read what you have written if it shows up on their screen; if they are going to print it, they like ones that will print in one – no more than two – pages, so then they have the information handy. I have people who print these things out every week and they keep them in a notebook. I have people that print them out and take them to meetings, staff meetings, and they pass them around. So you want to keep it reasonably succinct.
  4. Closing: your last sentence or paragraph (following the tips) is some kind of a closing sentence (or two), where you’re just pulling it together. Maybe you’re going to make a recommendation for a book. You could say, “One of the good resources I’ve read to learn more about this was…” and you would just put the name of a book in there. That might be your closing or if there’s some other way that you want to pull it together.
  5. Resource Box/Contact Information: Lastly, you’re going to have what is called your “resource box” (using the language of and other article directories). Think of it as the place you let people know who you are, what you do, and how they can get in touch with you to learn more. There are MANY ways of setting these up so I am not going to require a particular format. The idea is that it’s an invitation to make contact. If you just want people to have Here’s what I wrote, here’s my title, and that’s really all you want people to know right now, that’s fine.  But for a lot of you, you want to say, “I have additional resources related to this topic on my website,” or “Please contact me via _____ if you would like to learn more about the workshops I do on this topic.”It’s really up to you what you want to say and I am not going to put an absolute structure on that. Be smart about the length of your resource box/contact information in relation to the length of the tips you send. If you send me a single spaced, full page of information for your resource box to go with 10 productivity tips, I’ll probably have a little discussion with you and say, “You know, this seems a little out of whack here.”Just provide two, three, four, five sentences that let people know who you are. For many of you, this is a big part of why you are joining this effort. Think about how you want to engage people who want to pursue your expertise further – and invite them by your words and style (and the quality of what you gave them in your Top Ten Productivity Tips).

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May we submit something that we have previously published elsewhere?

Yes! If you have published something in your own newsletter or on one of the article directories or in a print publication (where you have maintained the copyright) then you are welcome to republish it through the Top Ten Productivity Tips.

You may do some rewriting, revising, adding, or subtracting – or if it is already in a ‘just right’ form, send it in!

Likewise, after it is published through the Top Ten Productivity Tips, you are welcome to publish it through one of your other channels. Nearly every one of the TTPT I have written has shown up again in some other format where people can access it.

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Is there a certain style of writing you expect?

Yes – your style!  Maintaining your voice is part of what helps people develop a relationship with you – and that’s what you want.

You may have a very gentle way of saying something. And that’s what people are going to know about you. Gentleness may not be part of your make up. You may have a somewhat in-your-face ways of saying things. One is not better than the other; it’s whatever is your voice. I really want people writing in their voice.

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Should we send in drafts or is it better to send in our finished product?

Only finished products will be accepted.  Since this is a free subscription for folks, I need to keep costs in mind. Therefore, please know that what I want to avoid is somebody submitting something that we assume is a final version, we begin to work it, get it into the system, and then the author decides, Oh, I really wish I had said this or I really wish I had said that. We could end up getting into an awful lot of extra time and I can’t afford that either time-wise or $$-wise. I’m sure you can be sensitive to that.

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What happens after we submit the tips to you?

  1. You submit your tips as a completed document, including all the parts requested (see previous question about format), edited and proofed, and ready for publishing.
  2. Margo checks to make sure everything is there and if something is missing, for example, you forgot to have an opening paragraph or if there are any typos or discrepensies, then she’ll get back in touch with you.
  3. Margo will have me review the tips if she thinks I need to preview prior to doing the final check.
  4. Once it gets into the format where it’s going to be ready to send, then I will go through it. After doing a final review of the set it’s ready to send to subscribers!!

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May we revise our tips once we have submitted them (and even after they are published)?

Yes – with a recommendation that you are circumspect about making revisions. It’s not that you can’t revise. For example, if you get a new website or something like that and you think, I’d rather have my new website sent out with my tips, then you can let us know.  I don’t mind that.

In most cases, please know that once your content is loaded into the template and set to go out to subscribers, I don’t want to be moving content around. It could get out of hand in a hurry. We want the process working smoothly, both for us as well as for you when you’re submitting things.

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