Want to get your message across? Write then.

What’s the worst thing a professional writer wants to see on his laptop?

Answer: a blank screen.

It’s true. If you’re a writer – either a pro, or a business person who needs to communicate with someone else – and you have a  blank screen in front of you, that’s not good.

‘But I can’t think what to write’ you say. Nonsense – just do exactly that: write. Get something down. Don’t be daunted by that white display in front of you on your laptop or computer monitor. You mustn’t let it get to you. Beat it – just write something.

Don’t worry about style. And you can even let a few spelling or grammatical errors go (for now). You’ll correct all that later. The important thing to do at this moment is to get your draft words, your initial thoughts, the bones of your message, down on that screen.

Because you will edit later. That’s when you will improve, correct and hone. That’s when the outline will begin to take shape and start to form into the powerful message, order, instruction, verse or chapter that you were looking to produce.

So first… just write.

You’ll be amazed how things start to drop into place once you have that first draft up (or down) and running. Writing things down helps us to develop and order those thoughts and emotions that our brain finds so easy to hold and bounce around at lightning speed. Layer upon layer of thinking and deliberation can be processed and decided upon at a remarkable rate inside the old noggin, but there’s no order to it.

Putting things in writing help us to find the way to communicate our wishes clearly and concisely. It’s a wonderful tool to have in your armoury, and becoming a good, strong writer puts you in an excellent position in the business world.

People start to understand what you want from them. What you want to achieve, and how you are going to do it – with their help if necessary. And that leads to respect and admiration from friends, colleagues and peers.

But that all comes later. Perhaps when you’ve had some training or coaching in business writing and communicating.

For now, allow yourself some bad writing, some poor spelling and a few inverted sentences if you wish.

The most important thing right now, is to get started. Write on…

See more like this on: www.businesswritingacademy.com

Saving money by driving less? Carry on with that, even when you’re behind the wheel

Driving less than you did? Most people are, mainly because Covid restrictions are keeping them at home more than before. And if you’re one of those, you have probably noticed a change in your monthly motoring expenses, as your fuel bill reduces with every untaken journey.


But prices at the pumps have actually risen recently, which makes it all the more important to think about fuel economy when you do have to hit the road for your key worker commute or to make an essential journey to the supermarket.


Petrol prices have crept back up to their highest levels since they first dropped following last March’s lockdown, according to car insurer Ageas Insurance. Their figures reveal that by the end of January, petrol prices had risen to 118.1p per litre – up nearly 3p compared with the price at the beginning of the month – while diesel rose to 122.7p per litre.


If your car takes £60 to fill (that’s the average), and you do this once a week, you’ll be spending a whopping £3,000 a year. With many road journeys now on ice (and not because of the cold weather), motorists will certainly be seeing the financial benefits of staying indoors and working from home. However, the way you drive when you do venture out, and the condition of your car play a huge role on the amount of fuel you use, and any unnecessary costs can add up over time.


All the more reason to consider your driving habits and see if there’s anything you can do to help your car run more efficiently, to save you fuel and money. Driving carefully and considerately also helps to reduce strain on the car and its components, avoiding possible unnecessary repair bills.


These 10 top tips, compiled with the help of Ageas, could assist you in upping your petrol or diesel economy and going further on each tank of fuel:


  1. Lose some weight

The heavier your car, the harder it has to work to speed up or slow down. So take out any weighty items that you don’t really need.


  1. Don’t be a drag

Your car will have to work harder against unnecessary wind resistance. So remove roof boxes or bike racks if you’re not using them.


  1. Windows up

Driving with windows open also increases aerodynamic drag, so you have to put your foot down further to compensate. No worries, you have air conditioning? Unfortunately this also uses fuel to operate.


  1. Up the maintenance

Take the time to keep your car well maintained. Crucially for fuel-efficient driving, this includes keeping your tyre pressures correct to reduce resistance.


  1. Switch up a gear

Change to a higher gear as soon as it’s possible and safe to do. It’s also a quieter and more relaxing drive like this.


  1. Read the road ahead

Look ahead and anticipate obstacles, slowing vehicles or changes in gradient. That way, you can ease off the throttle gently rather than slamming your foot on the brakes.


  1. Back off

Your fuel costs will increase the faster you drive, so keep speed reasonable, get into a high gear as soon as you can and drive smoothly.


  1. Accelerate gently

There’s no need to race anyone away from the lights, or to blast through the gearbox like you’re on a rally. The harder you accelerate the more fuel you will burn through.


  1. Steady as you go

Keeping a comfortable, steady speed could mean using cruise control. But this feature only aids fuel economy when driving on a constant flat surface. And keep a wary look out ahead – you’re ultimately in control of the vehicle.


  1. Don’t go neutral

For most modern cars putting it in neutral when coasting downhill or up to a red light can actually waste fuel. While coasting, your engine is idling and still putting fuel into the motor. Approach obstacles steadily and use lower gears for engine braking to help save your brake pads as well as your fuel.

See more features like this on: thecarexpert.co.uk

Own a car? Drive and enjoy! But don’t do these 10 things in it

You’ve bought a car. It’s yours to use and enjoy, and where you go is entirely up to you. But think about what you do in it.

Cars are very personal things – more than just a means of getting from A to B. They become part of us, part of the family, and a big part of life.

Get inside, shut the doors and you’re in your own private domain. Warm, dry and ready to go. That’s why cars are, for most people, the second most expensive purchase they’ll ever make after their house, and certainly something they would never want to be without.

That makes it important to look after your car. A car is for driving. So drive it, enjoy it and use it for the purpose that it was designed, and not for a whole host of other reasons.

Here’s a list of 10 top things you should never do in your car, and why. Are you guilty of any of them? Chances are at least one of these is on your list – and now’s the time to put a stop to it:

  1. Eating while driving

While it’s not illegal to eat while in control of a car, if you get distracted as ketchup falls from your quarter pounder onto your lap or you burn your hand on a hot cup of coffee, the police might take a dim view of your carelessness. Popping a sweet or small snack into your mouth while on the move is probably ok, but avoid the three-course meal.

  1. Eating while stationary

It’s a similar story to eating and driving, except for a different reason. Certainly it’s safer but, tuck into a large takeaway while in the driving seat and you will almost certainly drop some of it on the floor. At the very least, you’ll brush your trousers or skirt down when you’ve finished and spread hundreds of crumbs onto the carpets. Research from insurance company Ageas revealed that the bacteria bacillus cereus, one of the most common causes of food poisoning, lives in cars.

  1. Using it as a cupboard

Because the tailgate locks with the rest of the car, many drivers confuse the boot as a spare cupboard. But they really shouldn’t. Every extra item stored inside the car adds weight and with that comes poorer fuel economy and extra wear on the car’s suspension and tyres. If there’s too much stored in a hatchback or estate car’s rear space, it can block visibility and becomes a moving hazard in an accident or emergency stop. Anything on view is also an invitation to thieves.

  1. Playing loud music

We’ve all pulled up at traffic lights to be treated to someone else’s musical tastes whether we want it or not. Not everyone appreciates ear-splitting heavy rock or booming reggae, and some police forces agree – many have considered treating loud music in a car as anti-social behaviour. From a safety point of view, scientists have found that it can be distracting to drive with your speakers on fire, and it could also be dangerous if you can’t hear, for example, an ambulance approaching behind you.

  1. Picking your nose (or anything else)

The research from Ageas showed that cars’ interiors, including their steering wheels, can become home to more than 3,826 units of bacteria per square inch, which is 19 times more than a toilet seat. The most common bacteria lurking in our motors was pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause a skin rash, ear and eye infections, and even respiratory problems.

  1. Smoking

As with eating while driving, it’s not specifically illegal to smoke while behind the wheel. But similarly, if you have an accident, and lighting or smoking the cigarette was found to be the cause of distraction, you could end up with a charge of careless driving. You certainly should not smoke in a car carrying anyone under the age of 18 – that’s against the law. Meanwhile, it’s hardly going to increase your car’s value or enjoyment of travelling in it, if the upholstery and carpets smell like an ashtray.

  1. Shaving or applying make-up

Safety group RoSPA describes a distraction as ‘paying attention to a second activity while driving’. That second activity can mean the driver is less likely to see or anticipate hazards and therefore increases the risk of an accident. Using an electric shaver or putting on makeup while driving would certainly qualify as a distraction and you shouldn’t do either on the move. Both also leave behind human particles which can collect and multiply as bacteria.

  1. Driving with a loose pet

It’s not only a cause of great distraction if you have the pet dog loose in your car, but it would also be highly dangerous if you were in an accident with an unrestrained animal sat behind you. And if the dog was loose on the front seat when the airbag went off, there’s no telling where Rover would end up. Best to buckle up the pooch on the back seat with a genuine pet harness. That way everyone has a safe and comfortable ride.

  1. Using your phone while driving

It’s not only illegal to use a phone (or satnav) while driving, it’s against the law to even hold one. There have been several high profile cases reported where cell phone users have caused road accidents, and the police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because of the phone. Don’t forget that you can’t even use your mobile when you’re stopped at traffic lights, waiting in a traffic queue or supervising a learner driver. Make sure you’re hands-free at all times.

  1. Drinking and driving

There’s not much to add to this one and you shouldn’t be driving if you need reminding: don’t drink and drive. It’s simple – if you are going to drink, don’t drive, and if you are planning to drive, don’t drink.

See more features like this on: thecarexpert.co.uk