Join us for National Proofreading Day

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How Do You Make Last Names Plural?

Where has this year gone? Have you already addressed your holiday cards? If not, here are the rules to help you master some common mistakes when addressing envelopes—for any occasion.

So, do you add an s to a family name when you’re addressing the envelope to the family? In case you want to send us a card, it’s “The Beavers,” not “The Beaver’s.” Even though some people add an apostrophe and an s to people's last names to make them plural, it's not correct.

The rule to follow when making a last name plural is add an s, unless it ends in s, x, z, ch, or sh; then add an es. For example, Lopez becomes Lopezes and Harris becomes Harrises.
Does the es added to a last name look strange? Spell check doesn’t like it either. But that’s the proper way to do it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

E-mail Overload

Wednesday, October 20, was Information Overload Awareness Day. Now there’s a holiday I can relate to! For the webinar held in its honor, you could have registered for FREE if you pledged to not multitask during the event. Too bad my students don’t take that pledge!

Mark Hurst, the author of Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload, says the solution to e-mail overload is simple: Don’t become overloaded. Ha! Too late for that! As I read his list of what happens to a person when the Inbox is full of messages, I began to feel guiltier with each point he made.

The biggest message count Hurst heard of was 150,000! He claims he’s not making this up and said “that user said he did not feel fine.” Well, I’m feeling better now. Thank you.

Hurst says don’t use your Inbox as a to-do list, a file drawer, or a phone book—all those messages that keep those “bits” of information need to go elsewhere. Outlook has modules to hold those items; use them! Two ways to efficiently move the endless stream of e-mails from the Inbox to their appropriate destination include “drag and drop” and mailbox rules. These features make it easy to process your e-mail.

1) Turn e-mails into tasks and calendar appointments with “drag and drop.” Drag e-mails to the Task button to create a to-do item, or drag e-mails to the Calendar button to create an appointment. The e-mail is still in your Inbox, so go ahead and delete it.

2) Assign rules to your e-mails so they can automatically bypass the Inbox and go directly into a designated, already-created folder. This feature is powerful, yet easy to create.

“Drag and Drop” to Create Tasks or Calendar Appointments
1. Drag e-mails from your Inbox to the Task button (or Calendar button) on the Navigation Pane at the bottom left side of the screen. A new task (or appointment) opens.
2. Change the name of the task (or appointment) in the Subject line, if necessary.
3. Change the time and date and add a reminder, if you’d like.
4. Click Save & Close button.

Rule to Automatically Move Incoming E-mail Directly to Folder
1. Select an e-mail in the Inbox from the person you want to create the rule for.
2. Right click the message.
3. Select Create rule; the Create Rule dialog box displays. (Top half of box defines which e-mails will be selected; the bottom half identifies what to do with them.)
4. Place a check in the ‘From’ checkbox.
5. Click the Select Folder button; then, select the already-created folder from the list.
6. Click OK two times.
7. If you’d like to move all the e-mails currently in your Inbox that match that criteria, place a check in the Run this rule now on messages already in the current folder checkbox.
8. Click OK.

Define rules to automatically move e-mail to different folders, sound an alarm for e-mails from a particular person (the Big Cheese?), forward messages sent by a certain person to your manager. The possibilities are endless. The Create Rule dialog box has an Advanced Options button to create rules with even more selections. Experiment with it, and let me know how you use it.

One of Mark Hurst’s mantras is “Empty the Inbox as least once a day.” He says you can “delete most [e-mails], file some of them, but most importantly, get them all out of the Inbox…”

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Poor Semicolon

Friday, September 24, was National Punctuation Day. Do you have a favorite punctuation mark? No? Here's what Bill Walsh had to say about the poor semicolon, "The semicolon is an ugly bastard and thus I tend to avoid it..." (from his book, Lapsing Into a Comma: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print and How to Avoid Them).

Is name-calling really necessary? For a punctuation mark? How do you feel about the semicolon? Would you like it "plutoed" from the world of punctuation?
Many people don't know how to use the semicolon. So, in honor of NPD (National Punctuation Day), I'll teach you how to use it; and you'll never have to avoid it again.

Bill Walsh also calls the semicolon a SUPERCOMMA; now that's an excellent description. A good rule of thumb is to use the semicolon when you need something stronger than a comma or when you have too many commas. Generally, the semicolon helps the reader understand how to read the message correctly.

When a comma's not enough
Independent Clauses 
You can join two sentences (independent clauses) with a semicolon:

People don't know when to use the semicolon; it's the least used punctuation mark.

The sentences need to be related thoughts. For example, a semicolon wouldn't work well in this example: The comma is overused; football season has started.
Independent Clauses With a Conjunctive Adverb
If you add a conjunctive adverb (consequently, however, and furthermore are some common ones) between two sentences, you still need the semicolon. Punctuate the sentence two times--a semicolon before the conjunctive adverb and a comma after it:
People don't know when to use the semicolon; consequently, it's the least used punctuation mark.

When there are too many commas
Independent Clauses With Commas 
When two sentences are joined with a conjunction (and, or, and but are the most common conjunctions), a comma precedes the conjunction. If either sentence contains a comma, the comma before the conjunction is changed to a semicolon:

The comma is the most overused punctuation mark, often being placed where people pause in speech; and the apostrophe is the most misused mark.

A Series With Commas
Use semicolons to separate items in a series when at least one of the items has a comma:

National Punctuation Day will be celebrated in Chicago, Illinois; Seattle, Washington; and San Diego, California.

Are you ready for your "semicolonoscopy" now? (Thank you, Vickie Austin, for that word!)

Please comment on your favorite punctuation mark!

Happy Punctuation Day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More on Custom Lists

Changing Your Custom List
  1. Open the Custom Lists dialog box (see previous post).
  2. Select the list to change in the Custom lists box.
  3. Make the necessary changes in the List entries box.
  4. Click OK two times.
Deleting Your Custom List
  1. Open the Custom Lists dialog box.
  2. Select the list you want to delete in the Custom lists box.
  3. Click the Delete button.
  4. Click OK two times.

I Love Excel!

Excel is my favorite program! There, I said it. And even though "Embrace Your Geekness Day" has passed (July 13), that statement says it all!

Excel is feature-rich, although most people use 20 percent of the features 80 percent of the time. You don't need to know 100 percent of the features to be proficient. I've discovered several "cool" techniques during my career that made me love Excel.

Does it drive you crazy there are several ways to perform the same command in Excel--well, in all software programs for that matter? Keyboard shortcuts, mouse clicks, tool bar buttons? How many ways can you copy and paste, for crying out loud? Often, it's a two-step process, although a powerful command exists disguised as a one-step copy technique.

Use one step to copy the cell's content into adjacent cells (this command works well when copying formulas):

  1. Click the cell to copy.
  2. Position the mouse pointer over the black square in the lower right corner; the pointer changes to a black plus sign.
  3. Click and drag to fill the adjacent cells. (Click and drag down or to the right.)

This same click-and-drag copy technique is a "list creator" as well. Days of the week, months of the year, and calendar dates are among the built-in lists to create by just typing the first word (and sometimes the second item)!

For monthly headings, type January (or Jan for abbreviations). "Copy" (using the technique described above) that cell to the adjacent cells to create all 12 months. How cool is that? Type Monday (or Mon) for days of the week.Try it! Creating heading for budgets, forecasts, etc., is easy!

If you prefer actual dates for column headings (for weekly production schedules), type the first date and the next one to create the "pattern." For example, to create all Mondays, type 1/3/2011 (first Monday in 2011), then type 1/10/2011 (the second Monday) in the next cell. Select both cells. Click the black square in the lower right corner of the selected cells; then, click and drag to fill the adjacent cells.

You can create your own lists for headings or descriptions you frequently add to spreadsheets such as customers, departments, job titles, etc. Here's how:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office button.Click Excel Options at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
  2. Click the Popular category.
  3. Click Edit Custom Lists under the Top options for working with Excel section.
  4. Be sure NEW LIST is selected in the Custom lists box; then, type the items for the list in the List entries box. Press ENTER after each item. (Be sure the items are spelled correctly and are in the proper order.)
  5. When the list is complete, click Add.
  6. Click OK two times.
Once the custom list has been entered, you may enter it into any spreadsheet: Type the first word of the list. Then, use the click-and-drag copy technique to complete the list. "That was easy!" (Thank you, Easy button.)

Let me know the lists you create. It'll be fun to hear from you--whether you're a geek or not!
(If you're using Excel 2003, skip Steps 1-4 above. Click Tools from the menu bar. Select Options, and then click Custom Lists tab. Continue with Step 5.)

Let me know the lists you create. It'll be fun to hear from you--whether you're a geek or not!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Grammar and Punctuation Rules I Never Learned?

As I've mentioned before, my mom, Flo, was a grammarian. Mom couldn’t understand why I knew grammar rules and my brothers didn’t because we went to the same school. While I’m not the grammarian she was, teaching grammar in my business communication classes helps. To my surprise, though, I learned a few grammar and punctuation rules when I started teaching the class. Was I asleep during those lessons in grade school? Or did I forget them? Either could be true… 

Comma vs. no comma. I swear I never learned this rule: Place a comma between each element and after the last element for dates (elements include day of the week, month, day, and year), addresses (elements include name, street address, city, state, and zip code), and geographical locations (elements include city and state) when these items contain more than one element in a sentence. Examples help explain this rule:

Our meeting will be held July 31, 2010, at our corporate headquarters. (Many of us know to place the comma between the day and year. What about that second comma? Do you know this rule?)

The sales letter addressed to Ms. Mary Smith, 123 Main Street, Chicago, IL 60601, will be mailed today. (Notice the comma after the zip code.)

Were vs. was. The subjunctive mood—what?—is a verb expressing a doubt or a wish and typically occurs in clauses using if or wish. For example, If I were you, I’d transfer to another department. I used to say, "If I was you..." I don’t remember if Mom corrected me.

Bad vs. badly. I used to think most people were saying this one incorrectly. Imagine my surprise when I found out I was the one saying it wrong! Use the adjective (bad), not the adverb (badly), after a linking verb (is, are, look, seem, feel, sound, appear, etc.) when it describes the verb’s subject. I feel bad saying this incorrectly for so long!

As I tell my students, “Just because it sounds right to you, doesn’t mean it is right.” Grammar rules! Right, Mom?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Business Writing Tips: Update Your Writing!

I am writing to thank you for reading this blog. Is this an acceptable business sentence? Today’s business writing needs to be concise because people are too busy to read unnecessary words. How would you change this sentence to make it more concise?

Why do we use extra words when we write? Think back to school—remember minimum word counts? If we had a 500-word essay due, why not use make a decision rather than decide? We learned some bad habits—for business writing. Length was rewarded in school, but it’s not needed in business. Here are four concise writing tips:

The first sentence of this blog is an example of a long lead-in. It’s a hard habit to break: This letter is to tell you that… or I just wanted to let you know that… Sometimes the words before that are unnecessary. You can eliminate introductory phrases, although some people think sentences sound too curt without these lead-ins. Perhaps--although maybe we’re just not used to it. Try it; let me know what you think.

Redundant words--two words commonly used together that have the same meaning--are funny, if you think about it. Advanced notice and advanced warning—notices and warnings are given in advance. Some other redundant expressions are final outcome, exactly identical, combined together, and true facts. Know any others?

Some verbs are disguised as nouns; remember the example to increase the word count—make a decision? Often, we create nouns from verbs; for example, decide, calculate, and discuss become make a decision, make a calculation, and have a discussion. Using the verb makes our writing stronger, easier to understand.

Wordy expressions can often be reduced to one word; using the one-word counterpart can update your writing skills. Do you use any of these phrases?

Due to the fact that = because
Are of the opinion = believe
At this point in time = now
In the amount of = for
On a monthly basis = monthly

Revise your writing to be concise. William Zinsser, author of several writing books—including On Writing Well, says: “Be grateful for every word you can cut. Writing improves in direct ratio to the things we can keep out of it that shouldn't be there.”

Monday, May 31, 2010

Revising and Proofreading

Experts agree that editing is the key to good writing. Do you take the time to review your document? Proofread it for errors, and review it for conciseness and clarity. Can you use fewer words to make your point? Can you rearrange paragraphs or words to make it easier to understand, more logical?

Revising and proofreading are two different processes. Revising is improving the content for clarity, conciseness, and readability, whereas proofreading is creating copy that is 100 percent accurate. Experts recommend to revise first, and then proofread.

Are you a good proofreader? Typically, people who read slowly are good proofreaders because they don’t skip words. Place a piece of paper or ruler under the line you’re reading to force yourself to slow down. Give yourself plenty of time to review your document; otherwise, you’ll rush through it.

Most of us don’t like to proofread because it’s boring. Set your document aside for at least 24 hours. That way, you’ll be reading it with a fresh set of eyes.

Because editing is a way to become a better writer, be sure to take the time to review your documents before they are sent or distributed. Professionalism in written documents includes accuracy and easy-to-read, understandable content.

Some excellent resources for better business writing are Essentials of Business Communication by Mary Ellen Guffey (South-Western Cengage Learning, 2010), Why Business People Speak Like Idiots by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway, and Jon Warshawsky (Free Press, 2005), and The Truth About the New Rules of Business Writing by Natalie Canavor and Claire Meirowitz (Pearson Education, Inc., 2010).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Proofreading Tips

The countdown to the BEE has started! The 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee website has the countdown clock displayed on its home page; the annual competition is being held June 2 -4 with 274 spellers, ranging from 8 to 15 years old. Did you see the boy who fainted during the 2004 National Spelling Bee and then stood up to successfully spell his word? If you missed it, check out the YouTube video. Amazing!

These spellers are always welcome in my classes. They would never be guilty of the misspellings I’ve seen: fananimal [phenomenal], unfourtnatly [unfortunately], and rein burst [reimbursed], just to name a few.

Didn’t they see the red zigzagged underline that tells them the word is misspelled? While phenomenal is a difficult word to spell, I’m not sure what happened with fananimal. Laziness? Unfourtnatly was handwritten. Rein and burst are words in the electronic dictionary. (Yes, it was spelled as two words because that’s the first option for AutoCorrect, if you spell reimbursed as reinburst. Too bad—the correct spelling of reimbursed is the second option in AutoCorrect.)

I’m horrified when I send a document with a typo! Proofreading seems to be a lost “art,” especially with our hurried communications—e-mail, texting, etc. So, here are some tips for proofreading:

Turn on spell checker. While spell checker may not identify all typos, it’ll help.

Read out loud. Spell checker will not find words that are mistyped if it’s a legitimate word. Reading out loud helps us to find mistakes that we typically don’t see when we silently proofread.

Assume you’ll find errors. Many of us tend to read the copy the way we intended it to be. If you’re actually looking for errors, you may find them.

Add frequently used proper nouns to the electronic dictionary. Be sure to spell the person’s name correctly; then you’ll know it’s spelled incorrectly when the red zigzagged underline appears. (Right-click the name, and select Add to Dictionary.)

Use the Find command to identify common typing errors. Some of us mistype words (form for from, you for your, etc.) can be easily spotted if you use the Find command to help you proofread.

• Press Ctrl+F

• Type the mistyped word in the Find what textbox (for example, form)

• Press Enter.

Word will find each occurrence of the word; then, you can determine if the word (form) is used properly. Continue to press Enter until the dialog box displays, Word has finished searching the document. Press Enter to close the dialog box; then click Cancel to close the Find and Replace dialog box.

Would you like to share some of the spelling errors you’ve seen?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Outlook Sticky Notes

April 22 is Earth Day, and one way to be more eco-friendly is to use fewer sticky notes. Even though I love Post-it® notes, I use too many of them and then can’t keep track of all of my reminders. Outlook has the solution! The Notes module has electronic sticky notes to write reminder messages.

Do you have too many notes? Can’t find your reminder when you need it? Outlook Notes has a search feature to help you quickly find the one you’re looking for.

Can you quickly change the size of your sticky note if you run out of room while you’re writing? No, you have to use another sticky note! Not so with Outlook Notes.

Creating Electronic Sticky Notes
  • Use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+N) from any Outlook module.
  • Type the reminder message.
  • Press ESC key.
  • To view e-notes in the Notes module, select Go | Notes from the menu bar, or use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+5).
  • You may also drag a copy of your e-note(s) to your Windows desktop.

Would you like your e-note to be part of your to-do list? It’s easy; drag the e-note to the Tasks button in the Navigation Pane. (Your original e-note stays in the Notes module, too.) A Task dialog box opens; add a due date and a reminder. Then, save the task.

To search for a particular e-note, click in the Search Notes text box (Outlook 2007). (For Outlook 2003 if you don’t see the Look for text box, press Ctrl+E.) Type the text you’re searching for, and press Enter.

To delete an e-note, right-click the note and select Delete.

Enjoy your spring, go green, and use electronic sticky notes!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

National Grammar Day

Thursday, March 4, is National Grammar Day! I’m going to celebrate by wearing my “I’ve Got a Preposition for You” T-shirt. (I bought it from Grammar Girl.)

When I told my business communication class about the “holiday,” one of my students said he’s not going to speak that day. A gentleman in England will not stand in the “five items or less” line at the grocery store because the sign should read “five items or fewer,” although he does that every day, not just for Grammar Day.

Are you familiar with “Headlines,” a Monday night “Tonight Show” feature with Jay Leno? People send newspaper and magazine clippings that have grammar and spelling errors to Jay. Two of my favorites include “Chance of rain, possibly mixing with some wet snot” and “Add a bottle of out house wine for an additional $12.99.” Yikes! One letter can change the meaning of the sentence! Even copy editors don’t get it right all the time.

So, let’s go back to 3rd grade for a grammar review; today’s lesson is pronouns. As I tell my students, “Just because it sounds right, doesn’t mean it is right. People say things wrong all the time!”

Possessive pronouns do not have apostrophes. The possessive pronoun its is often used incorrectly; many professional signs confuse the possessive pronoun and the contraction. It’s is a contraction for it is. Its is the possessive pronoun. It’s wonderful that grammar has its own day.

Pronouns need to agree in number with their antecedents (the words to which they refer, which are generally the subjects). For example, an employee has the right to see their file is not correct. Employee is a single subject [the antecedent]; their is a plural pronoun. Make the subject plural as well as the verb to correct the sentence: Employees have the right to see their files.

Singular pronouns are used when referring to an organization or department, as long as the group is acting as a single unit. For example, Jones, Smith, and Doe, Inc., is having its [not their] company picnic in July. The marketing department won its [not their] volleyball tournament.

When subjects are joined by or or nor, the pronoun agrees with the subject that comes after the conjunction [or or nor]. Here’s an example: Neither Stacy nor Jim wanted his desk moved. Many people think this statement should be written as Neither Stacy nor Jim wanted their desks moved. Because Jim is closest to the pronoun, you need to use a singular pronoun.

Enjoy National Grammar Day! My mom, Flo, would have loved this day; she was a true grammarian. What will you do to celebrate Grammar Day?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Delivering the Presentation

Keyboard shortcuts are helpful when you’re delivering a presentation:

F5 (the function key) starts the slide presentation.

B toggles to a black screen and then back to the presentation. (Eliminate the visual so the audience focuses on you, especially when you're answering a question that's not related to the current slide or you’re starting your presentation but the slides aren’t part of the introduction.)

W toggles to a white screen and then back to the presentation.

N advances to the next slide (same as pressing ENTER key or clicking the Left mouse button).

P moves back to the previous slide.

HOME key goes to the first slide of the presentation.

END key goes to the last slide of the presentation.

Ctrl+S displays a menu of slides in the program; type the number of the slide to go to and press ENTER. Or, if you know the slide number; type it and press ENTER without using Ctrl+S.

ESC key ends the presentation.

TAB key moves to all hyperlinks on slide; then, press ENTER to select.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Just Say No to PowerPoint?

Next week, February 7 – 13, is “Just Say No to PowerPoint” week. Really? Say no to PowerPoint? Is it PowerPoint’s fault if a presentation is lousy?

While some presenters use the slide deck as their cue cards, the slides are for the audience, not the presenter. Text competes with your message because people are reading the slide or writing down everything on the slide while you’re speaking. So, is the audience really listening to what you’re saying?

Images, on the other hand, help reinforce and complement your message. Having pictures and possibly a “headline” that relates to your topic is recommended. Be sure to use professional photo images; iStockphoto ( is a first-rate resource for images. Two excellent books on this subject are Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds and Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson.

To create a more engaging slide deck, use the Title and Content slide layout:

  • Click the Layout button (located on the Home tab in the Slides group—version 2007). Or, select Format Slide Layout from the menu bar in version 2003.
  • Select the Title and Content slide layout.
  • Click the Insert Picture from File icon.
  • Locate the image file and double-click the filename.
  • Resize the image.
  • Click the title placeholder (“Click to add title”)
  • Type the text/title.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Using Delay Delivery

Please remind me to do that. What do you do when people ask you to send them a reminder? Do you write it on a to-do list? Instead of adding it to your to-do list, immediately write the e-mail and send it via Delay Delivery. (NOTE: Outlook must be running and connected to your server/Internet access to send the delayed message. If you’ve logged off during the time the message is to be sent, the e-mail message will be sent when you log on to Outlook the next time, although it may be sent later than you wanted.)

2007 Outlook Instructions:

  • Create a New Message.
  • Click the Delay Delivery button (located on the Options tab in the More Options group).
  • Select Do not deliver before: to place a check in the box.
  • Select the date and time in their respective boxes.
  • Click Close.
  • Type the message.
  • Click Send.

2003 Outlook Instructions:

  • Create a New Message.
  • Click the Options button (on the Standard toolbar).
  • Select Do not deliver before: to place a check in the box.
  • Select the date and time in their respective boxes.
  • Click Close.
  • Type the message.
  • Click Send.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More on Getting Organized with Outlook

Use the Reminder, Categorize, and Recurrence features to remind you to send birthday and anniversary cards. Set up the Reminder notification time to at least 1 week--that gives you time to buy and send the card, especially if the person’s special day is the first or second day of the month or year. Use Categorize to color code all birthdays and anniversaries on your calendar, and create a recurring “appointment” so you don’t have to fill in everybody’s holidays each year.

2007 Outlook Instructions:

  • Create a New Appointment.
  • Click Recurrence button (located on the Appointment tab in the Options group).
  • Select Yearly (Recur every 1 year(s) and On: selected date should be selected).
  • Click OK.
  • Click the Reminder list arrow to choose 1 week.
  • Click Categorize button to select Birthday/Anniversary category, if it's already been set up.
  • Click Save & Close.

2003 Outlook Instructions:

  • Create a New Appointment.
  • Click Recurrence button on the toolbar.
  • Select Yearly (Every “selected date” should be selected).
  • Click OK.
  • Be sure Reminder is “checked”; change time to 1 week.
  • Click Save and Close.
  • With the “appointment” still selected, click Calendar Coloring button.
  • Select Birthday/Anniversary category, if it's already been set up.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Getting Organized With Outlook

How do you stay on schedule? Calendars? To-do lists? Do you use Microsoft Outlook? It’s an excellent tool to use, especially when you customize some features to help you remain focused.

"Getting organized is one of the top 5 New Year's resolutions people make…,” according to NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) Past President Standolyn Robertson. Is getting organized your New Year’s resolution—or at least one of them? Let Microsoft Office Outlook Calendar help; let’s take a look at two helpful features.

The Categorize feature helps you visually manage your calendar. Use colors to easily identify appointments—by location, by project, by type of appointment (for example, networking events (blue), client appointments (red), meetings (green), exercise (yellow), etc.), or whatever system works for you.

When I was teaching several classes at different schools, I color coded my classes by location. That way, I could quickly see where I needed to be during the week rather than having to read each appointment. You may create new categories, using the names and colors you want; or rename the default categories.

The Reminder feature—the alarm that reminds you of an upcoming event—helps you get out of the office on time. I often change the alarm to help me get to places on time because the default is 15 minutes, which may not be sufficient notification time.

Unfortunately, I missed a class I was enrolled in because I never changed the 15-minute default reminder (on any of my appointments). I had thought the class started at 3 p.m.; however, at 1:45 the reminder for the 2 p.m. class popped up on the screen. Yikes--I was 40 minutes away!

Be sure to include the time needed to get out the door, not just the travel time!