To add insult to injury (dead moms, for chrissakes!), someone has spammed  the heck out of my blog, requiring hours of wasted effort on my part to delete thousands of comments. I haven't been this angry in a long, long time, so I thought I'd counteract with a "Word is"  post on waste. (Side note: I'm playing with comment settings to help stop the spam. Right now I've switched from math to image captcha, and required comment previews. I'm sorry for the inconvenience.) Civilization will prevail over [Internet] anarchy!
- Energy: How about a national mandate to disable the compressors in office water fountains? I'm curious how the idea of chilled water became the norm. I think room temperature is fine! I wonder how much energy we'd save... (Any of my engineer readers want to do a rough estimate?) Bonus: The local environment would be quieter! (Related: Check out the fascinating History of Drinking Fountains.)
- Knowing When it's Waste: When trying something new , it's sometimes hard to know when you're wasting effort. After all, if you knew where to focus it wouldn't be an experiment (see You Know You're Experimenting When...). In addition to personal development, this includes being handed a new assignment, a entire second role (due to the economy), or, worse, losing your job. To help prevent waste, know why you're doing an activity, set a timeline for evaluation, set it up to invest as little effort as possible, and choose wisely. (Side note: In building my consulting practice I've tried a ton of things to get business. One of those is networking, naturally, and gifts. A good percentage of these have not panned out, mostly due to not making ideal choices of who I talked to.)
- Email folders: Advice from Death by Information Overload : "Don't waste time sorting messages into folders; inbox search engines make that unnecessary. (One possible exception: Create an 'urgent action' folder - but don't forget to check it.)"
- Sins: As a card-carrying atheist (actually, not yet), I list waste as one of The Sins. Others? Hmm. How about hurting others, harming the environment, not taking responsibility, and (generally speaking) irrational behavior? (For time management sins, check out Rodger's 10 Deadly Sins of Time Management... and How to Avoid Them (part 1).)
- Productivity: Not having a system, clearly, wastes mental effort. Worse yet, it's unnecessary. For the simplest starting point, check out The World's Simplest Productivity Method, With Bonus Mini-Processing Examples.
- Leaving well enough alone. Most of the time I've ignored this advice I've regretted it. Has this sleeping dog ever bitten you?
- Networking: I've found that lectures and events with no explicit mingling time are a waste. I'm not talking about those explicit events, but places of genuine interest which are attended by people you genuinely want to help. Of course gaining the information talked about is important, but from a consulting perspective it better be darn important to warrant the effort, if significant.
- Effort vs. Results: As I find the 2x2 format irresistible, how about this classic? The 1,0 cell (high effort, low results) is a fine definition of waste, no?
- Meetings: What are your favorite waste-elimination opportunities around meetings? How about inviting only the right people, having an agenda, and sending necessary information beforehand? Find more good tips at To Meet Or Not To Meet.
- Personal Conservation: "If a man skimps himself through all the best years of his life in order to provide for his old age, has he conserved his resources, or has he wasted them?" (From Today and Tomorrow, Henry Ford's 1926 Classic.)
- Opportunities: "Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. [They are] opportunities to do big things." -- Rahm Emanuel, the White House Chief of Staff. (From Obama Weighs Quick Undoing of Bush Policy.) (Note: In my official capacity of "jackass," semi-defined in How To Approach Solving Procrastination, I strongly believe important opportunities offered by the financial crisis sadly have been wasted. More at A Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste and Simon Johnson's comments at Bill Moyers Journal. Respectful comments welcome.)
-  I found interesting these articles on the topic: Wired 12.03: The (Evil) Genius of Comment Spammers and Six Apart Guide to Combatting Comment Spam.
-  Previous words: open, stick*, and law.
-  New experiment activity at Edison includes Try a new batch of couverture chocolate for drinking, Work, Relationship, Fun Balance, Using Positive Affirmations to Improve My Attitude, Dress better in public, Apply Getting to Yes to a property boundary problem, and Lose 20 pounds in one month (2nd Experiment). Well done, folks!
-  Find a summary at 10 Tips for Managing Email Overload. The whole issue was, apparently, uploaded to HBR September 2009.