2. Say No to People Who Just Want to Talk
These human time-sinks (the analog equivalent of heat sinks in electronics that suck the heat out of the environment) amble into your assigned work space, plop their rear-ends down and regale you with tales of irrelevant crap. Before you know it, youve been lulled into a catatonic trance by the drone of their voice and you only snap out of it when, mercifully, your Outlook meeting alarm goes off, offering you an excuse to trade this waste of time for another. Learn to politely shut these people down in the interest of getting your work done. Do this consistently and youll train them to stay away. Steel yourself for the sad puppy dog looks you get when you politely nudge them the hell out of your office.
3. Quit Deleting Things from Your E-Mail In-Box
Much like my Outlook comment above, I feel a ripple in the force for this one. Efficiency experts everywhere, you have permission to be outraged by this idea! In reality, theres not a damned thing youll do better if your e-mail in-box is pristine. It might satisfy some goofy psychological need, but heres a dirty little secret for most of us: the search function makes your in-box the greatest digital filing cabinet youll ever not own. The 1.2 million e-mails in my g-mail in-box (okay, its only 67,000 and I have to pay Google $5 a year for storage space) are happily searchable at light speed and I know where everything is. And face it. At the end of your life, if you could have back the hours you invested over a career in cleaning up your in-box, I bet you would like that time back.
4. Just Say No to PowerPoint
Seriously, one more flipping trip through a death-march of serial boredom perpetrated on me by individuals who missed the memo on bullets, font-size and pixels on screen, and I might lose it. What started out as a cool way to share ideas has turned into the single biggest inhibitor of effective dialog ever invented. Turn off the projector and the computer, stare at your colleagues and start talking. If you need a picture, go to a white-board. Youll be amazed at the quality of the conversations when people are freed from the tyranny at staring at a screen until they start drooling.