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Published Feb. 14, 2008

Biz tidbits from and about magazines

Looking to stand out - or at least stay employed - in the deteriorating economy? Psychologist Judith Sills suggests becoming your own brand. "If your reputation is what people say about you, especially behind your back, and your resume is what you say about yourself, especially on paper, your brand is all that - plus," she writes in Psychology Today. "It is the professional identity that you create in the minds of others." Your brand should be distinctive, valued and stand for something. It could mean becoming the acknowledged expert in a particular area, or it might be associated with particular characteristics. For example, the author said that if she were trying to brand herself, she would "strive to make Judith Sills Inc. known for 'timely creativity.' " While there is no definitive template to follow, she says, at least three approaches will probably work well if you want to become a brand. You will want to participate in events that provide visibility, Sills writes. "Speaking engagements at professional conferences or in-house presentations establish your expertise." Working with groups other than your own will help spread the word about you. Second, do not just show up at meetings. "Make your presence known," she says. "Show what you know." Finally, be consistent. "At heart, branding means, 'I know I can rely on you for certain things, whether great graphics or ingenious spin.' "

Tips to work smarter, definitely not longer

The four-hour workweek promised by the bestselling book of the same name is probably not realistic for most of us. Still, Lori Johnston writes in Pink, it is possible to create a less exhausting schedule without cutting back on income. In addition to the usual ideas about delegating whenever possible, eliminating procrastination and planning the day in detail, she suggests these:

Close the door. Yes, it sends the signal that you are husbanding your time, but that is the point.

The 80-20 rule applies. Figure out which 20 percent of your work life is causing 80 percent of your problems, and see if you can eliminate it.

Limit e-mail interruptions. Create an automatic response that says you are going to respond to e-mail messages only at certain times of day. (Provide your phone number if someone needs you immediately.)

Charming stats for Valentine's Day

Here's something to think about on Valentine's Day, courtesy of Marie Claire: An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission study shows 11 percent of sexual harassment complaints "are filed by men against their female supervisors." From 1990 to 2006, the percentage of charges filed by men "nearly doubled."