1. Cancel all your meetings
It may sound radical, but it could revolutionise your life. Many meetings are boring and unproductive. They take too long and involve too many people holding court. In total, they take up far too much of the working week and prevent the attendees from getting on with the stuff that really needs doing. Start by removing them all from your diary, and review the purpose of all of them. Thereafter, always question whether a meeting is really necessary at all.
2. Delete all your emails
If you are not brave enough to do this outright, then you still have three options: action, file, or bin. If it is a simple task, do it now or transfer it to your action list, and delete the email immediately. If you might need it later, then file it in the right place, straightaway, but not in your in-box. If you know it already, if it is irrelevant, or just plain nonsense, then delete it immediately. That way, you will only have immediate action in your in-box.
3. Move to a new desk
Working environments that are dull and samey stifle creativity. You need plenty of natural light and stimulating surroundings to be properly productive. If you are bored or dissatisfied with your set-up, then change it. Arrange a swap with someone for a change of scenery. Throw out all the usual paraphernalia of work and start again. Choose some new stimuli to surround yourself with – books, images, and plenty of colour.
4. Practice rapid sequential tasking
Rapid Sequential Tasking is more effective then multitasking. Do things fast, one after the other. Although the beginning of any task is clearly vital, it isn’t over until it’s over. The beauty of this approach is that you don’t move on to the next thing until you have finished the last one, thus hugely increasing your ability to get things done.
5. Start at the end
Before you start anything, imagine the end. Pretending the job is finished is a non-scary way of envisaging the end result without actually doing anything. This enables you to work out how best to do it and whether it is worth doing. This is a simple technique similar to that employed by winning sportspeople, who have already pictured themselves winning.
6. Learn a new language
Bilingual people can dream as well as speak in two different languages. This increases their breadth of understanding and all-round mental stimulation. If you only speak English, consider the possibilities that learning another language could open up. You can learn one from a country whose culture interests you, or one that is linked to your business. This might even become a precursor to taking a job overseas.
7. Take up a new hobby
One-dimensional people are dull. If you introduce some humanity into your business life, interesting things start to happen. Hobbies and outside interests can give you that extra element of pride in your achievements. There’s nothing wrong with drawing satisfaction from your hobbies as well as your work and transferring that confidence between the two whenever you need it.
8. Introduce yourself to a colleague you don’t know
If you work in a large company, then choose someone you don’t know and go and say hello. You might make a new friend or learn something interesting. That could be particularly helpful if you go for someone in a department you don’t know much about. Of course, you might work in a small company and know everyone, but even then there is always more to find out about people.
9. Take a sabbatical
It is a rare person who enjoys doing the same thing over and over again for a long time. Eventually we all get bored. If you are, then you may need to re-engineer your approach to work. Start by taking a break.
10. Leave the company
If you really don’t find your work interesting, then consider leaving. Life is too short to struggle along being dissatisfied. It may seem scary, but there are always other opportunities elsewhere.
Kevin Duncan is the author of Business Greatest Hits and Marketing Greatest Hits.