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Shortcuts: Editor's choice

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(CNN) -- From practical advice to diversions into the downright surreal, The Briefing Room's Shortcuts have offered helpful guidance, fashion tips and random observations on a range of topics from getting out of the office early to winning a Nobel Prize and from landing planes to landing jobs. Here's a selection of some of our favorites.

How to get out of work early

Avoid meetings like the Black Death: It is a cast iron rule of the workplace that meetings at the end of the day will over-run. Anyone who organizes a meeting after 4 p.m. is a misanthropic corporate psychopath who will take the same enjoyment from making you late as a sadistic school teacher placing pupils in detention. If you want to leave at 5 p.m., keep your calendar free after 4 p.m. and don't let anyone persuade you otherwise. Hide under your desk if necessary. (More)

How to start your own country

Fight the power: Fed up with paying taxes, obeying laws and being told to tidy your socks away? There's a simple answer: Start your own country. More specifically, start your own micronation: A tiny principality ruled by you that consists of an island, perhaps a few acres of farmland or -- providing mom's cool with it -- your bedroom. (More)

How to escape from a maze

Check your head: A few points before we lead you to safety. Are you actually in a real maze, or does your life just feel like a maze at the moment? It's an important point to clarify. If you're merely having an existential crisis, then guidelines about leaving trails of breadcrumbs will probably only make you feel more alienated. Our advice to you: Call up a few pals, go for a walk, watch a movie, avoid French literature. (More)

How to write a bestseller

Steer clear of self-help guides such as this one: Type "How to write a bestselling novel" into Google and you will be confronted with 3,220,000 Web pages, all bursting at the seems with tips on how to realize your literary aspirations. Ignore it, all of it. Failure to do so will pitch you into a glutinous mire of well-meaning but contradictory advice. (More)

How to win a Nobel Prize

Obscurity: Nobel Prize winners, in the fields of science and literature at least, are the celebrity equivalent of dark matter -- the chances of becoming one increase significantly in inverse proportion to the complexity and obscurity of your work. So posing on red carpets or inside the pages of trashy sleb-mags is a no-no. This year's winners have included Roger D. Kornberg, recognized for his work on "the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription," and John C. Mather and George F. Smoot "for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation." You must cultivate a quiet career in the backwaters of microbiology or compose long, indigestible works of literature. A middle initial also seems to help. (More)

How to keep your inbox in shape

Kick the habit: E-mail is an addiction as dangerous as drink or drugs, although admittedly not as sexy. As yet there have been no reports of super models or movie stars checking into rehab after OD'ing on Outlook but it's only a matter of time. Still, not without good reason are BlackBerries popularly known as "CrackBerries." Most experts believe the first step towards conquering e-mail is to limit the number of times a day you indulge. (More)

How to write a blog

Find a platform: While blogging may be associated with bedroom anoraks and techno-geeks, in fact the tools involved require little more than typing skills or a basic understanding of how to upload multimedia material to the Internet. Many bloggers are now turning to video (vlogs), podcasting or photo blogs as a convenient way of disguising their literary failings, but, for simplicity's sake, let's assume you've chosen to express your innermost thoughts in the same medium as Shakespeare, Dickens, Joyce and Dostoevsky: the written word. (More)

How to win at poker

Time zone management: Growing numbers of poker players can nowadays be found in the virtual equivalent of smoke-filled rooms online, adding an international dimension to the average round of Texas hold 'em. This can be exploited by the astute player with a little knowledge of the world's time zones. If you're playing in Europe then make sure you know the time in such faraway places as Canada, Vietnam and Australia -- and particularly when it's just after bar-closing time in those countries. If a Canadian called Canuck King comes online at 2 a.m. Vancouver time and starts talking gibberish in the communal chat-box then rich pickings are to be had. (More)

How to sing karaoke

Uncool is the new cool: There's music you like, and music to sing at karaoke. Don't confuse the two. Drop your street cred and unleash your guilty pleasures -- it's time for singalong classics from "Bohemian Rhapsody" to "I Will Survive," not the latest alt.rock wonders that no one else has heard of. (More)

How to beat a cold

Wash your hands: It is estimated that more than half of all colds are transmitted by hand-to-hand contact. You don't need to develop an obsessive compulsive disorder level of keeping your hands clean, but you should always wash your hands with hot, soapy after going to the bathroom, as well as before eating. Most people touch their face on average three to five times a minute, giving bugs easy access to your body via your nose, mouth and eyes. Office desktops, keyboards, telephones and the ground floor button of a lift are among the most contaminated surfaces. (More)


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