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Information technology consultant Nathan Zeldes says useless messages – e-mails that nobody would care about if they disappeared before they were read – amount to 30 per cent to 35 per cent of our inbox. They don't take up that percentage of our e-mail time, but still probably account for two hours of the 20 hours spent on average on e-mail each week.

Checking references? Go free form

Laura Smoliar, CEO of Peppertree Engineering, suggests using open-ended questions when checking references. For example: "Tell me about a time when the candidate had a conflict with a co-worker, and how the situation unfolded." Or, "What kind of schedule does the candidate keep, and did co-workers have trouble working with her because of schedule issues?" Or, "Tell me about a time when the individual surprised you." And, "If you were to hire the candidate again, what role would be ideal?"

Three telling traits of successful leaders

Successful leaders never let the bottom line be the bottom line, says trainer Dan Rockwell. They also never pretend things are okay when they aren't, and never make excuses. Leadership Freak blog

'To-do' app works across platforms

Technology writer CM Smith advises that Remember The Milk, a popular, free "to-do" application that has been around for a long time on the Web, now has free apps for iPhones, Android devices, and the iPad, allowing you to work across platforms.