Communication Tip: Write both the day of the week and the calendar date when organizing meetings or planning events

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When proposing a meeting or planning an event in writing, I strongly suggest stating both the day of the week and the calendar date.  For example, I would email my co-worker Mark, “Shall we visit our client on next Tuesday, September 25?”.

Note the contrast between my proposed approach and the following 2 alternatives:

  • “Shall we visit our client on next Tuesday?”
  • “Shall we visit our client on September 25?”

Some careful comparisons will reveal 3 advantages:

  • It forces me to check that I wrote the correct pair between the day of the week and the calendar date.  This is an extra layer of quality control.
  • If I simply write “Shall we visit our client on September 25?”, then I implicitly force Mark to check what day of the week that is.  If I send that email to 10 people, then I’m multiplying this hassle by 10.  I can save all parties a lot of headache by taking the initiative to write “Tuesday, September 25”.
  • Knowing both are very helpful, but often for different reasons.
    • Knowing the specific calendar date eliminates any source of ambiguity about which day it is.  Instead of relying on words/phrases like “tomorrow”, “next Tuesday”, or “the day after”, stating “September 25” is perfectly clear to Mark.
    • If I propose a meeting on a Wednesday afternoon, Mark may immediately know that it is a bad time, because he needs to coach his daughter’s basketball team on Wednesday afternoons.  This illustrates how the day of the week is helpful for coordinating one-time events with events that recur weekly.

In the above example, I have omitted the year, because the working context between me and Mark would imply that meeting in September of next year would be rather strange and unrealistic.  However, stating the year may be helpful or even necessary for certain situations, especially if legal formality is involved.

 

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How to Extract a String Between 2 Characters in R and SAS

Introduction

I recently needed to work with date values that look like this:

mydate
Jan 23/2
Aug 5/20
Dec 17/2

I wanted to extract the day, and the obvious strategy is to extract the text between the space and the slash.  I needed to think about how to program this carefully in both R and SAS, because

  1. the length of the day could be 1 or 2 characters long
  2. I needed a code that adapted to this varying length from observation to observation
  3. there is no function in either language that is suited exactly for this purpose.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to do this in both R and SAS.  I will write a function in R and a macro program in SAS to do so, and you can use the function and the macro program as you please!

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