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1-Minute Strategies: Oct. ’10

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Tap the knowledge of people in your network with Aardvark (vark.com). Aardvark is social search: Ask any question and the service will find the perfect person in your network to answer in minutes. Use the tool via the Aardvark web site, iPhone app, IM or e-mail.

Block yourself from frittering away hours online by trying out these two applications: Freedom (macfreedom.com) turns off Internet access for your computer for up to eight hours (though you can override it, if necessary). Anti-Social (http://anti-social.cc) blocks specific sites, such as Twitter or LinkedIn, for up to eight hours. For times when you need a little help keeping your focus!

Boost your energy by tackling an item on your to-do list. Unfinished tasks weigh us down, says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. “So if you feel bad about not having completed an overdue report, or not having faced this month’s bills, force yourself to tackle one thing that’s nagging you,” she says. “It’s tough, but you will feel a huge rush of energy when you cross it off your list.”

Calm yourself by taking one minute every hour to take a deep breath and ask yourself whether, in the past hour, you’ve been the kind of person you want to be, Peter Bregman suggests on a Harvard Business Review blog. Then recommit to who you want to be in the next hour. One small self-interruption per hour equals a calmer you.

Cut out that trip to the post office. You can order U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail boxes online at shop.usps.com. USPS will deliver them, and then pick up the ready-to-send boxes for mailing right from your door.

Never shy away from negotiating. As Ivanka Trump puts it in her book The Trump Card, negotiating is simply seeking “the courtesy of being given the same terms extended to others—and preferably better. She says she’d renegotiate her cable TV bill if she heard a friend in her building was paying less.

Make your trip go more smoothly by marking your bags with an easily recognizable item. Tie on a colorful ribbon, stitch a unique patch or place a large sticker on it. No one else will pull your bags from the carousel to check for a tiny name tag, and you’ll see your suitcases come out the door from a distance.

Stay busy and live longer. You can die of boredom, after all. A study by University College London found that extremely bored bureaucrats were 2½ times more likely to be dead of cardiovascular disease two decades later. In general, the study said, highly bored workers “are more likely to die younger than those who are not bored.”

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