Helpful Tips, Tricks & Techniques

This page will help you with a variety of writing and productivity techniques, including minute-taking, writing guides and time management. There are a wealth of useful tips, tricks, and techniques below. Please do check back to this page as we will add to them from time to time.

On this page:

Image showing 'Helpful Tips' sign

Tips for Drafting Business Documents

Knowing how to draft effective business documents is crucial for various reasons. Firstly, it enhances communication within and outside the organisation, ensuring clarity of information and professionalism. Well-crafted documents, whether reports, proposals, or emails, contribute to a positive corporate image. Additionally, precision in language and structure minimises misunderstandings and supports informed decision-making. Competence in drafting business documents also reflects organisational professionalism and attention to detail. Ultimately, this skill is fundamental for building strong professional relationships, influencing stakeholders, and contributing to business operations’ overall efficiency and success.

Tips for Taking Minutes

Minute-taking is crucial in the professional setting as it provides a documented record of meetings, fostering clarity, accountability, and efficient communication among team members. These records serve as valuable references for future planning, making meticulous minute-taking integral to organized and successful business operations. Learning effective minute-taking is advantageous for anyone, as it enhances communication skills, demonstrates professionalism, and contributes to overall meeting efficiency.

Useful Guides

Online course

Tips & Tricks

Walk & Talk

Conducting walking business meetings offers several benefits. It promotes physical activity, improving health and well-being, potentially boosting creativity and problem-solving. The change in environment can stimulate fresh perspectives, fostering innovation and reducing monotony. Walking meetings can also be less formal, encouraging open conversation and idea exchange. Moreover, the increased oxygen flow to the brain during physical activity may enhance cognitive function. Additionally, the informality of walking meetings can break down hierarchical barriers, encouraging a more collaborative and inclusive work environment. Overall, incorporating movement into meetings can lead to increased engagement, creativity, and overall well-being.

In her TED talk, Nilofer Merchant suggests a small idea that just might have a big impact on your life and health:
Next time you have a one-on-one meeting, make it into a “walking meeting” — and let ideas flow while you walk and talk.

The Pomodoro Technique

The secret to effective time management is…thinking in tomatoes rather than hours. It may seem silly initially, but millions of people swear by the life-changing power of the Pomodoro Technique. (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. 🍅). This popular time management method asks you to alternate pomodoros — focused work sessions — with frequent short breaks to promote sustained concentration and stave off mental fatigue.

Resources for Better Writing

Writing Guides

The Plain English Campaign has a great set of guides to help your writing on all kinds of topics including how to use apostrophes.

See: https://www.plainenglish.co.uk/free-guides.html

If you work in government you might find the following helpful:

Software

Grammarly is a useful software tool that can help you improve your writing skills. It provides real-time grammar and spelling checks, suggests improvements in sentence structure and offers vocabulary enhancements. It can help refine your writing style, ensuring clarity and assist with language and tone. The full features carry a cost but there is a free version available.

See: https://www.grammarly.com/

Getting software to read your documents back to you may be useful for proofing work and fixing errors. Microsoft Word has a built in ‘read aloud’ option (accessed from the review tab).

ClaroRead from TextHelp is text-to-speech software designed to neurodiverse students to achieve more with reading and writing. It can help you be more confident, independent and productive learners by providing an effective suite of reading, writing and study tools.

See: https://www.texthelp.com/en-gb/solutions/dsa/claroread/

Guide to Using Priority Matrices

A priority matrix, also known as an Eisenhower matrix, is a time management tool that helps individuals categorise tasks based on urgency and importance. It helps individuals prioritize and manage their workload more effectively by focusing on tasks that align with their goals and deadlines. It consists of a four-quadrant grid, where tasks are classified into four categories:

Image showing priority matrix
  • 1. Urgent and Important (Do First)
    Tasks requiring immediate attention and significant importance

  • 2. Important, but Not Urgent (Schedule)
    Tasks that are essential but can be scheduled for later

  • 3. Urgent, but Not Important (Delegate)
    Tasks needing immediate action but of lower overall significance; these can be delegated to others

  • 4. Not Urgent and Not Important (Eliminate/Postpone)
    Low-priority tasks that can be postponed or eliminated

Perfect Your Writing Style

If you find it difficult to begin writing or find it hard to understand which writing style to use, here are some helpful tips to get you started. First and foremost, take a moment to brainstorm and outline your ideas before diving into the actual writing process. This will give you a clear roadmap and structure for your piece. Additionally, consider your target audience and purpose for writing, as this will guide your choice of tone and language.

Tips & Tricks

Experiment with different writing styles to discover what resonates best with your voice and the message you want to convey. Don’t be afraid to revise and edit your work; the first draft is just a starting point. Seek feedback from others to gain valuable perspectives and refine your writing further. Finally, remember that writing is a skill that improves with practice, so keep honing your craft by consistently engaging in the act of writing.

More information is available via the following articles/pages.

Referencing Your Work

As part of your apprenticeship, you may have been told that you need to use Harvard Referencing, but what is it? Simply, it’s a way of informing the reader where your references have come from and the style of doing so is a set order of author and year within the text. You will then have a full list at the end of your work with all of the details of each refence, that include author, year, name of book/journal, edition or volume and location and name of publishers. There are some free online tools that can help automatically generate this for you.

Find our more from:

Throughout your apprenticeship, you will come across a vast number of resources, whether it is a book, journal, online article or even a Ted talk that you find interesting or relevant to your course. It is a good idea to log these into a database so that you can refer back to them when you need to, for example, when preparing for EPA. By logging them in such a way, you can categories them so that you can find them at a later date without having to search through previous assignments or projects.


Critical Analysis

Your ability to critically analyse theories, ideas, concepts and texts can help you do your best work and really help you to achieve a distinction.

In the video below, you can learn how to supercharge your critical analytical skills with the DIE Method: describe, interpret, evaluate.

Learning Methods That Work

Whilst on your apprenticeship you will engage in a variety of learning activity both within your seminars and in your role. Learning activity and off-the-job training can take many forms and will not always be in a classroom environment. Here are some of the things that you may come across. Try to recognise which of these you most enjoy and use them where possible when preparing and revising for end point assessment.

  • Watching
  • Listening
  • Imitating
  • Listening, transcribing and remembering
  • Trial and error; experimentation or discovery
  • Deliberate practice
  • Drafting and sketching
  • Assessment for learning
  • Teaching and helping
  • Conversation
  • Reflecting
  • Being coached and mentored
  • Real-world problem solving
  • Making
  • Individual or collaborative enquiry
  • Thinking critically and producing knowledge
  • Competing and games
  • Simulation and role play
  • In virtual environments