Saturday, March 10, 2012

Minimizing Distractions

Managing Your Work Environment

How often are you distracted at work?

It's a question that's almost laughable, right? Most of us are distracted several times, if not dozens of times, every day.

We get emergency emails and phone calls. We take breaks to browse the Internet. Co-workers walk into our office for a quick chat, or send us amusing instant messages.

It doesn't matter where you work or what you do, you probably deal with distractions on a daily basis. And these distractions are costly: A 2007 study by Basex estimated that distractions cost U.S. businesses $588 billion per year, and this high cost is likely repeated in organizations around the world.

What's more (and depending on the complexity of our work), regaining concentration after a distraction can take quite a few minutes. If we're distracted 10 times a day, multiply the time lost by 10, and it's easy to see why we sometimes don't get much quality work done.

Learning how to minimize distractions can dramatically increase your productivity and effectiveness, as well as reduce your stress. Without distractions, you can get into flow, produce high-quality work, and achieve much more during the day.

In this article, we'll discuss the most common distractions we face at work, and we'll look at strategies for minimizing or eliminating them.


While email is incredibly useful, it's also one of the biggest work distractions we face. Many of us could spend entire days simply reading and responding to emails.

  • Schedule "email" times – Minimize this distraction by scheduling specific times to check and respond to emails. For instance, you could check email when you first arrive at work, at lunch, and right before you leave, and specify a half-hour slot every day to respond to your emails. (If you do this, it may be useful to let co-workers and customers know that they will need to contact you another way if they need you urgently.)
  • Check and respond to email at "low productivity" times – Remember that there are certain times of day when you probably do your best work. Some people work best in the morning, and others late at night. Schedule your email check-in during your less-productive times – and save your peak hours for doing creative, high-value work.
  • Turn emails into actions – If an email will take more than a few minutes to action or respond to, add it as a new action on your To-Do List or Action Program.
  • Keep your email program closed – When you're not using your email program, close it entirely – or at least turn off the visual or audible alerts that distract you. This eliminates the temptation to check it constantly.
  • Most email programs will also allow you to fetch new email manually with a "send/receive" button, or will allow you to set it to get new email automatically at certain times of the day (every three hours, for example).
See our article on Managing Email Effectively for more strategies on minimizing the distractions caused by email. Our article Overcoming Information Overload, and our Expert Interview on Managing Email with Mike Song, may also be helpful.

A disorganized desk or office can be very distracting. When your work space or work life is disorganized, it can be difficult to think and plan clearly.

Getting organized is a topic that could easily fill books, and it does! We have several good resources here at Mind Tools.

Our articles How to Be Organized, Actions Programs, The Art of Filing, and The 5S System will help you to organize your office and work life, so you can be more productive – and less distracted – during the day.

Instant Messaging (IM)

Instant messaging can be useful, but many times it's also a way for co-workers to interrupt you without having to get up and walk into your office.

If you use instant messaging (it's very powerful if used in a disciplined way), get into the habit of using it for small, quick queries. It's often better to use email or the phone for more complex ones.

Also, if you find yourself distracted by IM, consider setting specific times during the day for being "online." Then, when you don't want to be contacted, leave it off or set your status to "busy." If people need to contact you, make sure they know your "hours" for IM.

Phone Calls

The ring of the phone has become almost like Pavlov's bell for some people - we think we must answer it, even if we're concentrating on something important.

Minimize phone call distractions by turning off your phone during your peak work hours. Or, let your team know that you won't take non-essential calls between specific times, such as from noon to 2 p.m.

Alternatively, get people into the habit of using IM to check with co-workers that they are OK to take a call. If co-workers are deep in concentration, they can ask to "talk in 10 minutes" without losing the thread of their work.

The Internet

Browsing the web can take up enormous amounts of time from our day, and when we start looking on the Internet for one thing, it's easy to get lost for 20 minutes or more.

  • Read the news before the start of the day – Visit news sites or read newspapers before work, so that you know the news. That way, you won't be distracted as much during the day.
  • Close your Internet browser – Eliminate Internet distractions by keeping your browser closed when you're not using it. If you repeatedly check personal email, or go on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, then log out of your account. If you're forced to take those few extra seconds to log in each time, it may remind you that you're not focusing on work.
  • (However, bear in mind that tools like Twitter are increasingly useful for staying in touch with events in your industry. Just make sure that you only check it at set times of the day - for instance, before lunch and at the end of the day.)
  • Use special software – There are some useful software applications such as Freedom and Anti-Social that help eliminate online distractions. You can specify which websites you want to block, and set a timer for how long you want the block to remain active. Using technology like this to block access for yourself can be a big help.
  • Take short Internet breaks – Remember that taking little breaks, especially after working for an hour or more in deep concentration, can be quite useful for resting your mind. These tiny breaks allow you to return to focus with renewed energy. Use casual Internet browsing as a reward for every hour you devote to high-quality, focused work – and you'll feel as if you've earned the time.

Other People

Co-workers often create the greatest distractions.

  • Close your door – Close your office door to keep people from casually stopping by. If they knock or come in anyway, explain that when your door is closed, you shouldn't be disturbed unless there's an emergency. A sign on your office door may also help. (If you're a manager, there's clearly a tension between this and – very importantly – making sure that your "door is always open" to members of your team. Consider working from home or in a conference room when you don't want to be disturbed.)
  • Use headphones – If you're in a cubicle or open office environment, people are less likely to interrupt you if you're wearing headphones. (You don't even have to be listening to music!)
  • Talk to the disrupter – If you share an office with someone who often disrupts your day, talk to the person about the problem: he may not realize he's distracting you. Or, if a co-worker often comes in, sits down, and chats for a while, don't allow her to do it - place a pile of papers on the chair she'd use, or stand up immediately when she comes into your office or cubicle.
Our article Managing Interruptions offers further help on dealing with interruptions by co-workers.
Work Environment

Windows, a busy highway, or loud co-workers may all contribute to a distracting work environment.

  • Work in another location – If possible, work in a conference room or empty office to regain your concentration. If your job allows it, working in a different setting, such as at home, at a library, or in a coffee shop, may also help you to focus more.
  • Use "white noise" – If noise is a problem, install padded partitions, or consider buying a sound machine that produces white noise to cover annoying sounds. Noise-canceling headphones with soft music can also improve your focus. You can also download white noise files from the Internet and set them on "repeat." Having white noise play constantly helps block unwanted sounds.

Other Projects and Tasks

An overwhelming To-Do List may be a major distraction during the day. You may then procrastinate on those tasks, simply because you have so much to do, which further lowers your productivity.

  • Prioritize your To-Do List – Commit to accomplishing the two most important tasks on your list every day.
  • Track your day – Pick one day to keep track of everything you spend your time doing. You might discover that you spend five hours managing interruptions and dealing with emergencies, and four hours doing actual work. This assessment would then show you that you have only four productive hours each day to achieve your most important tasks.
  • Delegate – Learn how to delegate effectively. This is important for managing an overwhelming list of tasks and projects.


Coming to work well rested is vital to having a productive day.

  • Get enough sleep – Many people don't get enough sleep at night. When you're tired, it's very easy to become distracted.
  • Stay hydrated – When you don't drink enough water and you become dehydrated, you may not think clearly. Dehydration can also make you feel tired and less alert. Keep a water bottle on your desk, and drink regularly during the day.
  • Go for a walk – If you're tired at work, go outside for a walk. Getting some fresh air and moving your body can give you more energy, and can make you feel more alert.
  • Watch your diet – Your diet may also influence how tired you feel. For example, avoid heavy lunches – and instead eat smaller, healthy snacks throughout the day.
Key Points

We all face distractions on a daily basis. Distractions not only lower our productivity, they also increase our stress.

You probably already know what distracts you the most – phone calls, emails, instant messages, Internet browsing, interrupting co-workers, and so on. Strategies like scheduling email checks, turning off your phone, and leaving the office for a quieter environment may eliminate distractions so that you get more done.

Try several strategies to find the ones that work, and then stick to them!

Thanks to Mind Tools


Disengaging From Compensation Schemes

No reinforcement program or incentive plan works forever; but they seem to last forever, lingering on long past the day when their effectiveness expired.  What can we do about it?  Tradecraft literature concentrates on new ideas while giving short shrift to how you erase old ideas that have lost their luster.  Searches on "disengagement" all show topics about employees becoming psychologically distant rather than how you end ineffective motivational plans.  It is about time that we collected the best suggestions on how to back out of reward programs that are still valued and prized by recipients who don't want to lose them.

Every experienced compensation professional knows it is extremely difficult to disengage from any system seen as a significant part of the total reward "contract" with employees.  Simple expectation theory teaches us that once people receive a consequence perceived as valuable, they want it to continue infinitely.  One of my Brennan's Laws is, "Old entitlements never die; they just accrue."

Examination of overall remuneration systems at mature enterprises usually reveals multiple overlapping redundant layers of reward programs and incentives that have been added over the years.  An expert house painter will strip off the old paint so they can most effectively lay a new coat on a freshly cleaned and newly prepared surface.  Maybe we compensation people should similarly strip our jumbled batch of simultaneously administered reward programs down to a clean simple basic core foundation before adding anything new.  Cost-justification is vastly simplified if a promising new plan replaces old ones known to be flawed.  At least, we should explore how to maneuver the organization into a position from which it is possible to add something new without stepping all over the existing redundant or ineffective stuff that has accumulated over time.

Old reward programs take on a life of their own.  Once in an annual budget, they are (relatively) easily renewed.  They become taken for granted, both by management and by the employees, readily accepted as a fixed cost.  One would think that the past decades should have given us many opportunities to practice disengagement and to gain experience about which methods work best in what situations.  The fact that you can't easily find such information is depressingly informative.  Few enterprises make money by recommending that their clients reduce expenses; after all, they want to be paid themselves, and that generally means an increase in expenses, so they tend to jump enthusiastically on the "invest a penny to make a dime" train.  Rarely do you see consultants saying that their client should end a popular but expensive compensation scheme.  By the way, I see "scheme" as the British do, as a neutral synonym for a "plan" rather than meaning a "wicked nefarious plot".  No, rather than drop programs, consultants are expected to create added  programs that pay out more money on top of the sums already being dispensed; otherwise, the authors of the pre-existing reward plans have to admit they are flawed or no longer appropriate.

Enough of background chatter stating the obvious problem.  Let's get down to potential solutions.  Naturally, they will not be universally useful.  What works very well in one situation may be completely ineffective in a different environment; but we have to start somewhere.  To prompt more thoughts, here are some initial quick suggestions on how to withdraw from a reward program:

• Buy out pre-existing programs with a one-time cash payment
• Fold old systems into new incarnations
• Wipe the slate clean by cancelling all current incentives as a date certain, then redesigning all
• Incorporate expiration dates into existing plans
• Forbid the addition of any new program until others have reached their drop-dead dates

What else can you suggest?

E. James (Jim) Brennan is Senior Associate of ERI Economic Research Institute, the premier publisher of interactive pay and living-cost surveys. Semi-retired after over 40 years in HR corporate and consulting roles throughout the U.S. and Canada, he's pretty much been there done that (articles, books, speeches, seminars, radio/TV, advisory posts, in-trial expert witness stuff, etc.) and will express his opinion on almost anything. 

Thanks to E. James (Jim) Brennan / Compensation Café


How 30 Minutes A Day Can Increase Your Intelligence

If you ask me, where humans go wrong is with their lack of patience. That, and their recent acquired taste for instant gratification.

The reality is that things take time. Richard Branson didn't become a millionaire overnight. Madonna was not an overnight success. David Beckham was not born a superstar footballer.

That said, it's actually pretty easy to improve yourself. Why?

Because most people don't bother.

The majority of people don't do a single thing to improve themselves. They just coast along expecting the world and everyone else to change for them and then get frustrated when they end up stuck in a rut.

So I've come up with a new theory:

The Half Hour Theory.

I love it because it's actually pretty easy to integrate into your life. The general idea is that you do one small thing every day for half an hour and then as time goes by you gradually improve. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? You'd be surprised how many people don't do the obvious. They do a lot of 'talking about the obvious' – but rarely do they take action.

This could take the form of half an hour's reading every day. Doing so for one year will mean you have read the equivalent of 24 books – that's more than most people read over a decade, let alone one year!

You may even want to improve the speed of your reading so you can learn faster. It could take the form of half an hour of study everyday – a new language or a new skill. This would equate to a full 6 week course by the end of the year.

This theory could even rely on you taking a half an hour every day spending time on the Internet, researching into something that really interests you. Doing this will ensure that you are always up to date with new trends and breakthroughs in your area of interest.

The point is that by dedicating a small amount of time every day to something that will expand your intelligence or improve your life in some way, you will (after a while) notice a large result.

How half an hour can increase your intelligence

Here's how to implement The Half Hour Theory:

  • Pick something you've always wanted to learn or become more proficient in.
  • Schedule in a half an hour everyday to devote to learning the new skill (early morning is often a good time as there are no distractions, times during a commute are also great as this is dead time).
  • After a considerable amount of time (a few months at least) check in to see what you've learned. You'll be surprised to see how much progress you've actually made.
  • Don't beat yourself up if you miss a few sessions – simply get back on track. Remember: you're doing more than the average person even if you fall a little bit off course.
  • Be patient. Don't expect results overnight. It takes time to build up a new skill.
Zoë B is a Life Strategist & the author of the Simple Life Strategies blog. Through her coaching programs and her blog, Zoë helps others to learn the strategies that exceptional people use to overcome things like stress, indecision, worries, boredom, procrastination & fear so that they can perform at their own personal best.

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder (Feb 7, 1867 - Feb 10, 1957) American Author

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder
Born Laura Elizabeth Ingalls
February 7, 1867
Pepin County, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died February 10, 1957 (aged 90)
Mansfield, Missouri, U.S.
Occupation Farm Wife, Novelist, schoolteacher
Nationality American
Period 1932–1940s
Genres Historical Fiction
Subjects Midwestern & Western
Notable work(s) Little House on the Prairie

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American author who wrote the Little House series of books based on her childhood in a pioneer family.[1]


Early life and marriage

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born February 7, 1867, near the village of Pepin, in the "Big Woods" of Wisconsin,[2] to Charles Phillip Ingalls and Caroline Lake (Quiner) Ingalls. She was the second of five children; her siblings were Mary Amelia, who went blind;[3] Caroline Celestia, Charles Frederick, who died in infancy, and Grace Pearl. Her birth site is commemorated by a period log cabin, the Little House Wayside.[4] Her life here formed the basis for the book Little House in the Big Woods. (See the book entry for more information.)

A paternal ancestor was Edmund Ingalls born June 27, 1586 in Skirbeck, Lincolnshire, England. He died on September 16, 1648 in Lynn, Massachusetts]].[5] She is also a descendant of the Delano family and Edmund Rice, a 1638 immigrant to Massachusetts Bay Colony.[6]

In Laura's early childhood, her father settled on land not yet open for homesteading in what was then Indian Territory near Independence, Kansas--an experience that formed the basis of Ingalls' novel Little House on the Prairie. Within a few years, her father's restless spirit led them on various moves to a preemption claim in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, living with relatives near South Troy, Minnesota, and helping to run a hotel in Burr Oak, Iowa. After a move from Burr Oak back to Walnut Grove, where Charles Ingalls served as the town butcher and Justice of the Peace, Charles accepted a railroad job in the spring of 1879 which led him to eastern Dakota Territory, where he was joined by the family in the fall of 1879. Over the winter of 1879-1880, Charles landed a homestead, and called DeSmet, South Dakota, home for the rest of his, Caroline, and Mary's lives. After spending the mild winter of 1879–1880 in the Surveyor's House, the Ingalls family watched the town of DeSmet rise up from the prairie in 1880. The following winter, 1880–1881, one of the most severe on record in the Dakotas, was later described by Wilder in her book, The Long Winter. Once the family was settled in DeSmet, Wilder attended school, worked several part-time jobs and made many friends, most importantly the bachelor homesteader Almanzo Wilder (1857–1949), whom she later married, despite his being 10 years older than her. This time in her life is well documented in the Little House series of books.[citation needed]

Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, she accepted her first teaching position, teaching three terms in one-room schools, when not attending school herself in DeSmet. She later admitted that she did not particularly enjoy teaching, but felt the responsibility from a young age to help her family financially, and wage earning opportunities for females were limited. Between 1883 and 1885, she taught three terms of school, worked for the local dressmaker and attended high school, although she did not graduate. Her teaching career and her own studies ended when she married Almanzo Wilder, whom she called Manly, on August 25, 1885, when she was eighteen and he was twenty-eight. Almanzo Wilder had achieved a degree of prosperity on his homestead claim, owing to favorable weather in the early 1880s, and the couple's prospects seemed bright. She joined Almanzo in a new home on his claim north of De Smet and agreed to help him make the claim succeed. On December 5, 1886, she gave birth to Rose Wilder (1886–1968) and later, an unnamed son, who died shortly after birth in 1889.

The first few years of marriage held many trials. Complications from a life-threatening bout of diphtheria left Almanzo partially paralyzed. While he eventually regained nearly full use of his legs, he needed a cane to walk for the remainder of his life. This setback, among many others, began a series of disastrous events that included the death of their unnamed newborn son, the destruction of their home and barn by fire, and several years of severe drought that left them in debt, physically ill, and unable to earn a living from their 320 acres (1.3 km2) of prairie land. The tales of their trials at farming can be found in The First Four Years, a manuscript that was discovered after Rose Wilder Lane's death. Published in 1971, it detailed the hard-fought first four years of marriage on the Dakota prairies. Around 1890, the Wilders left DeSmet and spent about a year resting at Wilder's parents' prosperous Spring Valley (Minnesota) farm before moving briefly to Westville, Florida. They sought Florida's climate to improve Wilder's health, but being used to living on the dry plains, they wilted in the heat and Southern humidity, and felt out of place among the backwoods locals. In 1892, they returned to DeSmet and bought a small house (although later accounts by Lane mistakenly indicated it was rented). The Wilders received special permission to start their precocious daughter in school early and took jobs (Almanzo as a day laborer, Laura as a seamstress at a dressmaker's shop) to save enough money to once again start a farm.[citation needed]

In 1894, the hard-pressed young couple moved a final time to Mansfield, Missouri, using their savings to make a down payment on a piece of undeveloped property just outside of town. They named the place Rocky Ridge Farm. What began as about 40 acres (0.2 km2) of thickly wooded, stone-covered hillside with a windowless log cabin, over the next 20 years evolved into a 200-acre (0.8 km2), relatively prosperous poultry, dairy, and fruit farm. The ramshackle log cabin was eventually replaced with an impressive 10-room farmhouse and outbuildings. The couple's climb to financial security was a slow process. Initially, the only income the farm produced was from wagonloads of firewood Almanzo sold for 50 cents in town, the result of the backbreaking work of clearing the trees and stones from land that slowly evolved into fertile fields and pastures. The apple trees did not begin to bear fruit for seven years. Barely able to eke out more than a subsistence living on the new farm, the Wilders decided to move into nearby Mansfield in the late 1890s and rent a small house. Almanzo found work as an oil salesman and general delivery man, while Laura took in boarders and served meals to local railroad workers.[citation needed]

Wilder's parents visited around this time, and presented to the couple, as a gift, the deed to the house they had been renting in Mansfield. This was the economic jump start they needed; they added acerage to the original purchase, eventually owning nearly 200 acres. Around 1910, they sold their house in town and using the proceeds from the sale, were able to move back to the farm permanently, and to complete Rocky Ridge Farmhouse.[citation needed]

Farm diversification

Enlarge picture
Laura and Almanzo Wilder, 1885

By 1910, Rocky Ridge Farm was established to the point where the Wilders returned there to focus their efforts on increasing the farm's productivity and output. The impressive 10-room farmhouse completed in 1912 stands as a testament to their labors and determination to carve a comfortable and attractive home from the land.

Having learned a hard lesson from focusing solely on wheat farming in South Dakota, the Wilders' Rocky Ridge Farm became a diversified poultry and dairy farm, with an abundant apple orchard. Wilder, always active in various clubs and an advocate for several regional farm associations, was recognized as an authority in poultry farming and rural living, which led to invitations to talk to groups around the region.

Following her daughter Rose Wilder Lane's developing writing career also inspired Wilder to do some writing of her own. An invitation to submit an article to the Missouri Ruralist in 1911 led to a permanent position as a columnist and editor with that publication — a position she held until the mid-1920s. She also took a paid position with a Farm Loan Association, dispensing small loans to local farmers from her office in the farmhouse.

Her column in the Ruralist, "As a Farm Woman Thinks," introduced Mrs. A.J. Wilder to a loyal audience of rural Ozarkians, who enjoyed her regular columns, whose topics ranged from home and family to World War I and other world events, to the fascinating world travels of her daughter and her own thoughts on the increasing options offered to women during this era.

While the Wilders were never wealthy until the "Little House" series of books began to achieve popularity, the farming operation and Wilder's income from writing and the Farm Loan Association provided a stable enough living for the Wilders to finally place themselves in Anderson, Missouri middle-class society.

Wilder's fellow clubwomen were mostly the wives of business owners, doctors and lawyers, and her club activities took up much of the time that Lane encouraged her to use to develop a writing career for national magazines, as Lane had done. Wilder seemed unable or unwilling to make the leap from writing for the Missouri Ruralist to these higher-paying national markets. The few articles she was able to sell to national magazines were heavily edited by her daughter and placed solely through Lane's established publishing connections.


For much of the 1920s and 1930s, between long stints living abroad (including in her beloved adopted country of Albania),[7] Lane lived with the Wilders at Rocky Ridge Farm. As her free-lance writing career flourished, she successfully invested in the booming stock market.

Her newfound financial freedom led her to increasingly assume responsibility for her aging parents' support, as well as providing for the college educations of several young people she "adopted," both in Albania and Mansfield. Lane also took over the farmhouse her parents had built and had a beautiful, modern stone cottage constructed for them as a gift. However, when Lane left the farm for good a few years later, the Wilders, homesick for the house they had built with their own hands, moved back to it, and finished their lives there. By the late 1920s, they had scaled back the farming operation considerably and Wilder had resigned from her positions with the Missouri Ruralist and the Farm Loan Association. Hired help was installed in the caretaker's house Lane had built on the property, to take care of the remaining farm work that Almanzo, now in his 70s, could no longer easily manage.[citation needed]

A comfortable and worry-free retirement seemed possible for the Wilders until the Stock Market Crash of 1929 wiped out the family's investments. The couple still owned the 200 acres (0.8 km2) farm, but they had invested most of their hard-won savings with Lane's broker. Lane was faced with the grim prospect of selling enough of her writing in a depressed market to maintain the financial responsibilities she had assumed, and the Wilders became dependent on her as their primary source of support.[citation needed]

In 1930, Wilder asked her daughter's opinion about a biographical manuscript she had written about her pioneering childhood. The Great Depression, coupled with the death of her mother in 1924 and her sister Mary in 1928, seem to have prompted her to preserve her memories in a "life story" called Pioneer Girl. She had also renewed her interest in writing in the hope of generating some income. The first idea for the title of the first of the books was When Grandma was a Little Girl (later Little House in the Big Woods). After its success, Laura continued writing, given mental support and help in the form of her sister, Carrie, sharing her own memories.[citation needed]


Almanzo died in 1949, aged 92. Laura died on February 10, 1957, three days after her 90th birthday. Both died at Rocky Ridge Farm at Mansfield, Missouri.

"Little House" books

Book series collaboration

Controversy surrounds Lane's exact role in what became her mother's famous "Little House" series of books. Some argue that Laura was an "untutored genius," relying on her daughter mainly for some early encouragement and her connections with publishers and literary agents. Others contend that Lane took each of her mother's unpolished rough drafts in hand and completely (and silently) transformed them into the series of books we know today. The truth most likely lies somewhere between these two positions — Wilder's writing career as a rural journalist and credible essayist began more than two decades before the "Little House" series, and Lane's formidable skills as an editor and ghostwriter are well-documented [8]. But Lane's New York literary agent, George T. Bye, turned away the initial drafts, commenting that they lacked drama. [9]

The existing evidence (including ongoing correspondence between the women concerning the development of the series, Lane's extensive personal diaries and Wilder's first person draft manuscripts) tends to reveal an ongoing joint collaboration. The conclusion can be drawn that Wilder's strengths as a compelling storyteller and Lane's considerable skills in dramatic pacing and literary structure contributed to an occasionally tense, but fruitful, collaboration between two talented and headstrong women.

Whatever the extent of the collaboration, it seems to have worked both ways: two of Lane's most successful novels, Let the Hurricane Roar (1932) and Free Land (1938), were written at the same time as the "Little House" series and basically re-told Ingalls and Wilder family tales in an adult format. The collaboration also brought the two writers at Rocky Ridge Farm the money they needed to recoup the loss of their investments in the stock market. Simply stated: If Wilder had not written the books, they would not exist — Lane had no interest in writing what she called "juveniles" — but had Lane not edited the books, they might well have never been accepted for publication let alone become famous. Since the initial publication of "Little House in the Big Woods" in 1931, the books have been continually in print and have been translated into 40 different languages.

Whatever the collaboration personally represented to the mother and daughter was never publicly discussed, however. Wilder's first — and smallest — royalty check from Harper in 1932 was for $500 — the equivalent of $8,000 in 2010 funds. By the mid-1930s the royalties from the "Little House" books brought a steady and increasingly substantial income to the Wilders for the first time in their 50 years of marriage. Various honors, huge amounts of fan mail and other accolades were granted to Laura Ingalls Wilder. The novels and short stories of Rose Wilder Lane during the 1930s also represented her creative and literary peak. Her name received top billing on the magazine covers where her fiction and articles appeared. The Saturday Evening Post paid her $30,000 in 1938 (approximately $450,000 in 2010 funds) to serialize her best-selling novel Free Land, while Let the Hurricane Roar saw an increasing and steady sale, augmented by a radio dramatization starring Helen Hayes. The book remains in print today as Young Pioneers.

Celebrated author

Lane left Rocky Ridge Farm in the late 1930s, establishing homes in Harlingen, Texas, and Danbury, Connecticut. She eventually ceased fiction writing and spent the remainder of her life writing about and promoting her philosophies of personal freedom and liberty. She became one of the more influential American libertarians of the mid-twentieth century.

During these years, Wilder and her husband were frequently alone at Rocky Ridge Farm. Most of the surrounding area (including the property with the stone cottage Lane had built for them) had been sold off, but they still kept some farm animals, and tended their flower beds and vegetable gardens. Almost daily, carloads of fans would stop by, eager to meet "Laura" of the Little House books. The Wilders lived independently and without financial worries until Almanzo's death in 1949, at the age of 92. Wilder was grieved, but determined to remain independent and stay on the farm, despite Lane's requests that her mother come live with her permanently in Connecticut. For the next eight years, she lived alone, looked after by a circle of neighbors and friends who found it hard to believe their very own "Mrs. Wilder" was a world-famous author. She was a familiar figure in Mansfield, being brought into town regularly by her driver to run errands, attend church, or visit friends. She continued an active correspondence with her editors, many fans and friends during these years.

Throughout the 1950s, Wilder was visited by Lane for long periods, usually for the winter. Once, Wilder flew to Connecticut with Lane for a visit to Lane's home. In the fall of 1956, Lane arrived in Mansfield for Thanksgiving, and found her 89-year-old mother severely ill from undiagnosed diabetes and a weakening heart. Several weeks in the hospital seemed to improve the situation somewhat, and Wilder was able to return home on the day after Christmas. But she was very old and very ill, and declined rapidly after that point. Wilder had an extremely competitive spirit going all the way back to the schoolyard as a child, and she had remarked to many people that she wanted to live to be 90, "because Almanzo had". She succeeded. On February 10, 1957, just three days after her 90th birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder died in her sleep in her Mansfield farmhouse.

With Wilder's death in 1957, ownership of Rocky Ridge Farmhouse reverted to the farmer who had earlier bought the surrounding land. The local townsfolk put together a non-profit corporation to purchase the house and its grounds, for use as a museum. After some wariness at the notion of seeing the house rather than the books themselves be a shrine to her mother, Lane came to believe that making a museum of it would draw long-lasting attention to the books. She donated the money needed to purchase the house and make it a museum, agreed to make significant contributions each year for its upkeep and also gave many of the family's belongings to help establish what became a popular museum that still draws thousands of visitors each year to Mansfield.[10]

Lane inherited ownership of the "Little House" literary estate for her lifetime only, all rights reverting to the Mansfield library after her death, according to her mother's will. After her death in 1968, Lane's heir, Roger MacBride, gained control of the copyrights. MacBride was Lane's informally-adopted grandson, as well as her business agent, attorney, and heir. All of MacBride's actions carried Lane's apparent approval. In fact, at Lane's request, the copyrights to each of the "Little House" books, as well as those of Lane's own literary works, had been renewed in MacBride's name when the original copyrights expired during the decade between Wilder's and Lane's deaths.

Controversy did not come until after MacBride's death in 1995, when the Laura Ingalls Wilder Branch of the Wright County Library (which Wilder helped found) in Mansfield, Missouri, decided it was worth trying to recover the rights. The ensuing court case was settled in an undisclosed manner, but MacBride's heirs retained the rights. The library received enough to start work on a new building.

The popularity of the Little House series of books has grown phenomenally over the years, spawning a multimillion-dollar franchise of mass merchandising, additional spinoff book series (some written by MacBride and his daughter), and the long-running television show, starring Michael Landon. Laura Ingalls Wilder has been portrayed by Melissa Gilbert (1974-1984), Meredith Monroe (1997, 1998) and Kyle Chavarria (2005) in television series.

Wilder once said the reason she wrote her books in the first place was to preserve the stories of her childhood for today's children, to help them to understand how much America had changed during her lifetime.



This article is copied from an article on Wikipedia® - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the Wikipedia® encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.

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501+ Great Interview Questions For Employers And The Best Answers For Prospective Employees By Dianna Podmoroff

501+ Great Interview Questions For Employers and the Best Answers for Prospective Employees

501+ Great Interview Questions For Employers And The Best Answers For Prospective Employees By Dianna Podmoroff

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For anyone who hires employees this is a must have book. It is also essential for anyone searching for a new job. This new book contains a wide variety of carefully worded questions that will help make the employee search easier. These questions can help you determine a candidates personality type, the type of work he or she is best suited for, and if the person will mesh with your existing employees and workplace. Once you learn the right questions to ask, you'll get the best employees. For the prospective employee-learn how to sell yourself and get the job you want!

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #555009 in Books
  • Published on: 2005-02-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .71" h x 5.70" w x 9.36" l, 1.02 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 288 pages
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Winner of the Florida Publishers Association 2006 Best Adult Non Ficition --Book Award

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful.
5Great for those who hire
By Brandi M. Seals
"501+ Great Interview Questions For Employers And The Best Answers For Prospective Employees" is a great read for anyone in charge of hiring for a company.

The author provides excellent questions designed to illicit telling responses about an applicant's history, personality and more. She points out that a lot of qualified applicants come through the doors. You don't want to necessarily interview only on skill, but should concentrate on how well the applicant will mesh within the system with those already working at the job.

The book offers excellent questions, guides on how to interpret answer or what types of answers one should be looking for, as well as examples that any interviewer can learn from. Readers are taught to look for discrepancies, to delve deeper and get a fuller picture of an applicant.

I've been on a lot of interviews and many of them have fallen short, asking only about previous work experience, how it relates to the new job - basically anything involving skills and experience. I really liked that the author is more concerned with how well a new employee will fit into the scheme of things, rather than skills and experience. After all, it is already outlined on his or her applications so there's no need to cover it to in depth. All in all, it is a great book for anyone doing interviews.

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful.
5Best Resource for Novice or Expert Interviewer
By Book Woman
Taking a different approach to finding the perfect employees, this book is a fun resource for even the most experienced interviewer or job seeker. Dianna Podmoroff is an experienced author of similar books, and does not disappoint with this one. Each chapter deals with a specific job related skill; such as assessing analytical and problem solving ability, interpersonal skills and conflict resolution, teamwork, leadership, motivation, and stress management. What makes this book different is the expert analysis of answers after each section of questions. Podmoroff quickly pinpoints the pro's and con's of various responses, but is thankfully not presumptuous enough to claim there is ever one correct answer. She carefully illustrates how to apply different responses to appropriate job descriptions, allowing the interviewer to develop a more conscientious picture of each applicant. Interestingly enough, any job hunter can also use this book to hone individual interview skills, gaining valuable insight into the oft-confusing interviewing process. Overall, 501+ Great Interview Questions for Employers does what the name implies; offer great questions and expert analysis of answers, without the "know it all" attitude found in similar books. A valuable resource for even the most seasoned interviewer or the novice job-hunter. And by the way, there are 696 questions.

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful.
5This book is a must-read for anyone in a hiring capacity.
By Dawn Sullivan
This book is a must-read for anyone in a hiring capacity. Asking a million questions will not guarantee you a candidate that is the perfect fit. Asking the right questions will. 501+ Great Interview Questions for Employers stresses that generic interview questions are excellent for putting the interviewee at ease. After that, in-depth questions are necessary to illicit honest responses. The book goes beyond just providing questions. It reveals the psychology behind each one and explains how to interpret the response. When a candidate is telling you what he or she thinks you want to hear, the book teaches you how to probe them for an authentic response. The authors were correct in stating that most people are hired for their skills, but fired because they are not the right fit. Recruiting and training new employees is too expensive to make a wrong hiring decision. This book enables me to ask the right questions and to choose the right candidate - the first time.


50 American Artists You Should Know By Debra N. Mancoff

50 American Artists You Should Know

50 American Artists You Should Know By Debra N. Mancoff

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Accessible and informative, this book is a gorgeous introduction to great American artists. While the history of American art is as varied as the fifty states the country is comprised of, it tells a story of a uniquely American aesthetic: bold, innovative, and uncompromising. Starting with the portraits of John Singleton Copley and the landscape masterpieces of Frederic Church, this exciting look at the most important American artists moves through the era of Cassatt, Whistler, and Sargent to the groundbreaking works of O Keeffe, Cornell, and Calder. This book also celebrates the artists who placed America at the forefront of modern art: Pollock, de Kooning, Rauschenberg, Warhol, Oldenburg, and Johns. The works of Sherman, Serra, and Close prove that America continues to produce challenging and influential artists. With its colorfully illustrated spreads and contextual approach, this is a superb guide for anyone interested in learning about American art.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #106353 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-04-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .56" h x 7.24" w x 10.08" l, 1.31 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 160 pages
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About the Author
Debra N. Mancoff is a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago and a Scholar in Residence at the Newberry Library in Chicago. She is the author of many books on art including Flora Symbolica: Flowers in Pre-Raphaelite Art (Prestel).

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
5An Indispensible Addition to Art Libraries
By Grady Harp
Debra N. Mancoff, a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago and a Scholar in Residence at the Newberry Library in Chicago, has created a very well prepared introduction to American art, one so fine that it should be in the libraries of schools and homes alike. Rarely has an overview about a subject on art been so completely considered as this inexpensive guide to the history of art unique to America been so readable and so full of facts and dates AND has supplied ample illustrations to allow the reader to have a solid footing on the many artists important to our history.

Mancoff begins her book in the year 1691 with a self portrait by Thomas Smith and progresses to the present with the art of Kara Walker. While she is unable in the scope of this book to cover all American artists she does select artists from different time frames that speak not only to the sociopolitical periods of development in the USA but also follows the international art periods as demonstrated by American artists. Included in this book are such divers talents as George Caitlin, George Inness, Whistler, Homer, Eakins, Cassatt, Sargent, O'Keefe, Thomas Hart Benton, Alexander Calder, Cornell, de Kooning, Paul Cadmus, Louise Bourgeois, Diebenkoen, Warhol, Close, Basquiat, Matthew Barney, Claes Oldenburg, Rauschenberg - fifty artists in all. Each artist is presented with a short comment about his/her place in the art scheme, followed by a fine brief biography, a time line of the important events of the life and career, and accompanied by a photograph of the artist and at least one example of the work produced by that artist.

While there are many joys to be hared in this book, one of particular note is the ample space devoted to painter Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859 - 1937), the first African American painter to achieve international acclaim: his paintings are extraordinarily beautiful and not widely known to most readers. But that is part of the joy of Debra N. Mancoff's writing: she understands her subject and projects an excitement about each of the artists for whom she pauses to share with her reader. This is a very fine book, one that everyone interested in art and especially American art should own. Grady Harp, July 10

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5great short blurbs
By K. Eadington
I'm an art teacher and I love this series of books for making warm ups for my art kids. It's generally a good short description of the artwork or artist with some interesting facts and good pictures. This isn't the book for someone looking for something really in depth stuff but if you just want a brief refresher they are great.