Since objectively measuring waste of intellect is difficult, reduction is difficult, too. Here are some ideas, but no perfect strategies:
- Do not attend meetings with more than five participants or without a clear agenda. Regular meetings should either be intentional so
cial gatherings or have tangible goals and results. (I plan to give some more concrete advice in a future post.)
- Don’t do boring things. Whatever you do: it is a good sign for intellectual waste if you are bored. Be nice and do not force others to do boring things.
- Never do anything manually if a machine could do it (nearly) as well. Unless it gives the pleasure of doing it…
- Take care that everything you read is either recreational or really educational. Timothy Ferris suggests not to read news in his book “4-Hour Workweek” as a part of a “low information diet”. I would not go that far, but the suggestion has some merits.
- Write a TV diary. You need not comment on the things you are watching, Just what and for how long. Define a limit how much TV you want to watch per week or month. Every month, review the list and drop one show, series, or TV magazine from your watching preferences. Until you are below your limit. From time to time, you could also review and lower your limit.
- Find someone else to do unavoidable tasks that cannot be done by a machine and that look like intellectual waste for you. Just because you think it is intellectual waste does not mean everybody else will think the same. Maybe those tasks are a good challenge for others. However, be careful: other persons shall never be waste dumps for you. If you think Lean Self is good for you, others have the right to think the same.
One last word about intellectual waste in business life: The history of industrialization shows that intellect waste can be reduced effectively. The downside: work that wastes intellect is either done by machines nowadays, or it is outsourced. So watch out. If your job looks like wasted intellect to you, others might think the same. If it is your boss, you should either actively and visibly help him to reduce the waste or be ready to look out for a new job. Chances are high that this new job will be not in your current company.