I've frequently written about making meetings more productive. But what if you're already stuck in a boring meeting? Here are 6 easy ways to put the tedium to better use:
1. Cultivate your gratitude.
Make a list of everything that's good in your life. Start with the fact that you're alive (that's really good) and move down from there. Include friends, family, colleagues, hobbies, and every job-related task that gives you a sense of accomplishment. Make the list as long as possible. By the meeting's end, you'll be energized and ready to rock.
2. Prioritize your to-do list.
The mathematical Pareto Principle says that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your actions. Review your slate of future activities and raise the priority of tasks that can be accomplished quickly but have an oversized positive impact. Example: Raise the priority of writing a thank-you note to a good customer, but demote the latest batch of paperwork.
3. Meditate or pray.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress creates absenteeism, irritability and social withdrawal--all of which are bad for you and those with whom you work. Scientists have long known that meditation and prayer lower your stress level, so sit up straight, breath more deeply, and try to relax your mind.
4. Do some real work.
If laptops, tablets, or smartphones are allowed in the meeting, you can get some real work done... as long as you're not rude about it. Sit at a table corner or in the back of the room so you can angle your screen away from prying eyes. Remember to frequently pause, look at whoever is speaking, nod as if agreeing, then return to your "note taking."
5. Redirect the meeting.
Even the most tedious discussions usually brush against one or two issues of real importance. When one comes up, ask a question that opens up a more substantive interchange or leads towards a decision that needs to be made. Chances are everyone will be relieved that you've added a point to a meeting that was otherwise pointless.
6. Brainstorm and plan.
A dull meeting is the perfect time to put your own brain into high gear. Imagine where you'd rather be and what you'd rather be doing--and then make plans to get there. Or write down five or 10 ways to attack and overcome a problem that's been plaguing you. Work on a business plan for a new company you'd like to start.
Adapted from "Business Without The Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts That You Need to Know."