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Save time by storing “canned responses” on Gmail for commonly asked questions. Save the reply once and later you can select it from a drop-down menu and send it again and again. Tip: You can automate a canned response by keyword.

Halt interruptions by giving your physical space a makeover. If you keep candy or other food on your desk, remove it. People gravitate to food. Place your chair in such a way that you don’t make eye contact with passersby. If you have an extra chair in your work area, fill it with stuff. When people sit, they stay longer.

Turn voice-mail messages from your mobile, home or work phone into e-mail messages
that you can read as text or listen to as MP3 audio. GotVoice (http://gotvoice.com) converts voice mail, so you can save messages as long as you need. Try it free for 14 days; $10 per month.

Earn the mantle of “too valuable to lose”
by speaking the same language as your boss. For example, executive coach Mariette Edwards tells The Wall Street Journal, “An analytical [type boss] will take exception to someone who presents an idea without data to support it. A people person will be offended in the absence of regular communication.” Know your manager’s style—and adjust to meet it.

Step up your in-house networking. In a recent survey by IBM, only 13% of 400 HR executives worldwide say they are “very capable” of locating an employee with a particular area of expertise within the company. Without a good way of capturing info about employees’ backgrounds and skills, they end up matching employees to plum assignments using a “who knows whom” system. So make sure you’re touting your skills, interests and success stories to your boss and HR.

See how your company’s business ethics stack up by taking this free 23-question assessment that Duke University’s Kenan Institute for Ethics has posted on its web site. It asks questions such as, “Are employees afraid to provide bad news to their bosses?” Go to http://kenan.ethics.duke.edu/measureup/irb.php.

Neutralize a toxic boss by not taking his attacks personally,
suggests Annie McKee on Harvard Business Online. “Do not let toxic people touch your self-esteem. Their screaming, demeaning, cynical poison is about them, not you. Consciously manage your boundaries so the toxins can’t get in,” she says. Instead, tap into your personal power and resilience—you know your talent and your value, so focus on delivering work that makes you proud.

Land on the right answer to a tough question by cultivating a personal board of directors, advises Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. Collins started doing it in his 20s. He drew a little conference table with seven chairs around it and wrote names on them of people he admired. He pasted it above his computer, and when he was stuck on a problem, he would poll the personal board.

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