Saturday, November 16, 2019

Listen up Mr. Rabbit!

Time Management

“Slow it down, make it stop or else my heart is going to pop..cause it’s too much, yeah it’s a lot to be something that I am not” – the very famous song by Australian Singer Lenka.

Whenever I think of time, I think of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, wearing a waistcoat, holding a pocket watch, and muttering "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" Alice then follows him down the rabbit hole into the Wonderland.

Metaphorically we are all that white rabbit running against time to be something that we are not.  Alice on the other hand felt she had a lot of time. She was curious and followed her heart.
A few days back I got a call from a friend; one of my closest buddies since childhood. She was in town only for a day and so wanted to see me the same day. It had been years since we last met.

I checked my schedule,  made all the arrangements back home for who’s going to watch over the kids, what we’ll be having for dinner, I ironed the uniform, prepared for the lecture huffing and panting. And was able to make time to see her but I promised myself that I won’t take more than two hours.

On the way, I recalled all the mischief that we did together as kids, the fun school days, being the back benchers, being called into the principal’s office together several times for not performing well in academics and I realized what is the point of seeing an old friend in such a hurry? Why can’t I just forget about the time while I am with her.?

So I decided I won’t look at the watch and would only laugh my heart out while I am with my friend. I did that. And it was swell!  It was one of those rare moments of delight and sheer laughter that you have when you meet an old school chum.

 When I walked out of CCD, I thought I must be super late but when I saw the time i was surprised to know that we were together for only one and a half hours!! 

Shefali Tsabary, the popular psychologist says that when we are always very conscious about time, we often forget to live in the moment and then in the later part of our lives are caught up with diseases like hypertension, high blood pressure and even heart attack!

 Running after TIME could be one of the reasons for it. The right interpretation of ‘time is money’ is to value it, avoiding its wastage on the things that do not matter to us and not to make ourselves appear super-busy all the time.

But the question remains –How to better manage the time that we have in hand?

I remember reading a story in which a professor fills a jar of glass with golf balls and asks his students if the jar was full. He then puts some pebbles into it and those pebbles occupy the empty spaces between the golf balls. He asks again – Is the jar full? And the students say yes sir! And he picks up some sand and inserts in the same jar. The sand fills up the void between pebbles and the balls.

The professor goes on to say – Just like the golf balls made the jar appear full, there are things and people in our lives who matter the most and seem to make our lives fulfilling. Had I put pebbles or the sand first into the jar, there would have been no space for the golf balls!

So while prioritizing the time, we need to remember the golf balls first and make more room for them. In life they are our family, friends, people we truly love, our mentors and our passion. The pebbles are the other important things like our job, house, car, secondary to the golf balls. Everything else is the sand.

So how to plan our day so we can carve out more time for our golf balls?

Here are certain ways as suggested by Rory Vaden – The Management Expert

He says give emotional permission to yourself to do the things that will give you more time tomorrow.

For this he suggests a focus funnel –

First Ask yourself –
Can I eliminate this task? The more things that we say no to today the more time we create for tomorrow.
Most of the time we spend with our ‘to do’ list, we need to ask what we should not be doing. Perfection is not when nothing more can be added but when nothing more can be taken away from our ‘to do’ list.

Rory calls it significance calculation – how significant is this task on my ‘to do’ list?
The next question is if I cannot eliminate this task, can I automate it?
In his own words -
“Automation to your tasks is what compounding interest is to your money. For example there’s something called online bill pay that can pay your bills automatically but for that you have to set it up.
Compound interest takes money and makes it into more money, automation takes time and makes it into more time.”

The third part of focus funnel - If I cannot automate it, can I delegate it? Can I teach someone how to do that particular task for me?

If none of these works, then you ask yourself – if it has to be done by me, does it need to be done now? But if can be done later and it’s not majorly contributing to your LT goal, then ‘procrastinate it on purpose’.

Procrastinating is not a good habit. But a thoughtful procrastination can work wonders.

So give more time to your golf balls, live in the moment and use the concept of focus funnel that is – either  eliminate, automate, delegate or procrastinate but on purpose.

Also, there are hundreds of ‘to do’ list management mobile applications to help you cope up with the management of time but I would prefer going by the traditional methods, as I think we are already too obsessed with those screens to be spending  some extra time over them.

   It would be a better idea to go a bit vintage with your humble diary, white boards or bullet journals - marking out the dates and adding the tasks into it with your own hands. It would also give some respite to your precious eyes and neck!

But of course if you are someone who has to deal with insane lists of tit-bits, important appointments and meets then there are certain apps that are doing well in the market that I personally liked –

Remember the milk app -
This simple virtual assistant allows you to:
  • add tasks
  • associate tasks with sub-tasks
  • define due dates for everything you need to do today, tomorrow, this week, or any other time
There is also an option of smart lists that is created on the basis of your previous criteria.

If all that you need to get started is FOCUS – then probably these two apps are meant for you –

Rescue Time which is an automatic productivity tracker and also the Forest – focus app.

Thomas Frank suggests – Todoist app, the best feature he says is its natural language processing.

Kidsstoppress is another great app for kids, their food planning and for getting great tips like how to handle a fussy eater or what to pack for a holiday.

Evernote is another, for storing important documents and accessing them on the go!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Patriotism, really?

It was then; during the British Raj that patriotism was truly ubiquitous. Today the ideologies stand inter-mingled. We have nationalism, secularism, liberal mindedness, anti-feudalism, the right-wing, left-wing and what not! But the fundamental feeling of being in love and faithful to the country is misconstrued and almost absent.

India has always stood for peace. It had conquered the 200 years of British Raj through one of the greatest influences of all times - Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. 

The worldwide Satyagrah movement and non-violence promoted peace. Our country stands for these virtues. So when there’s a war cry, it’s a temporary euphoria, an emotional vulnerability that we are exhibiting to the world that’s anything but patriotism.

Charles De Gaulle, French army officer and statesman who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany in World War II
 puts it, "Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first." 

Here’s to glorious, gorgeous, deliciously united Akhand Bharat that stands for peace and not war!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

My first introduction to humour as a child was the jokes my mom used to read out from champak to me and my sister..

Then I grew up a little, I teased my sister all the time…

Once I gifted her a greeting card saying, 'happy birthday my SWEETHEART LITTLE SIS'..and down on the card I wrote a note in brackets ('you know what mom told that me you were an accident..hahaha') and she didn’t speak to me for two days..though I got reprimanded for it, I truly enjoyed it and even she did eventually; getting teased..Today I think that it is the best relationship I have ever had with anyone..My sister is far away and I miss her like an idiot misses a point!

Wikipedia defines these two perspectives of humour we all have experienced with precision –

Humour is, it says – the quality of being amusing
Two – a state of mind..
So it works inside- out..

The term humour also has its roots in the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours, controlled human health and emotion.

It’s backed by hundreds of researches that people with a strong sense of humour were found to live longer in spite of illness, especially cardiovascular disease and infection..

Some people think that humour is encoded in their dna..researches say humour is encoded in all of our systems but then we have to learn to use I’ll tell you..

British prime minister Margret Thatcher was very rude with her colleagues. Media too criticized her behavior urging her to be more empathetic but it only offended her. Then a comedy show using puppets called Spitting image started on tv and it showed the prime-minister as a psychopath, whacking her naughty colleagues with a stick..Obviously this wasn’t how Margret Thatcher actually behaved but it was a tenfold exaggeration about a real and painful truth about her. The prime minister saw the show and could then see the point, was able to laugh at herself and she acknowledged that she needed to change her behavior with her colleagues..

We too can use this tactic of humour which can be a little exaggerated to bring about change in someone’s behavior.

I can give the example of Saikiran (indian comedian) who would make fun of his own dark he talks about his mother who is obsessed with her son’s dark skin and would desperately try all sort of remedies to make him look fairer, like she would spend more money on almond milk to rub on his skin than on buffalo milk to feed him. She had also pasted a Michael Jackson pic on the wall saying – if his mother can do it. I can do it too!

That’s how exaggeration or hyperbole works with humour as a satire!

So humour is just a way to express your perspective in your own unique way..
It keeps the conversations easy and light improves our health
Who doesn’t want to be hilarious and smart?

Here are the tips offered by alpha m – a humourist..first tip of being funny  - if somebody thinks that your joke was not could be just that they have a different sense of humour..or it could mean that your joke was actually not funny, maybe out of context..
Pewdiepie has millions of subscribers but there are people who do not find him funny..So don’t get disheartened cuz you can still have fans!

Second tip –

Watch more comedy and take a note about timing and more with people who are humorous..yeah humour is contagious and you are going to release more endorphins!

Another great tip to develop a good sense of humour is to look for humour in everyday situations..the other day I got a glass of warm milk for my son..and he asked me to make it warmer..and I was about to lose my temper when he said, "lo aap bhi garam ho gaye!" And it made my anger disappear in seconds!

So that’s what we  can do to have more fun in life with the seasoning of wit or comedy …the famous French cartoonist George Walinski said – 

"Humor is the shortest road from one person to another.."

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Heart.. set... go!

It was my audition in Times Now, the TV news channel (yes! The echo-chamber of Arnab. The audition was for news anchoring.

I had a friend who helped me pitch my audition. She was somehow super-confident about my performance; probably even more than I was myself.

I reached the office in Lower Parel in Mumbai looked like a humble entry what with a reasonably sized wooden door and an areca palm plant welcoming on its side.

Quite contrary to the entry, the reception was chaotic. People ran haywire giving the feel of a news house.

I was asked to wait till the time my friend went inside to call the BC – the bureau chief.

The camera rolled..take 1..cut..take 2..cut..take 3 cut! It was a hat-trick! I did not speak a friend nervously walked up to me and said “hey what’s wrong…don’t ruin it please..there are people dying to sit where you’re sitting right now..”

I gave another take and as the Teleprompter rolled, I moved my lips and spoke..but I stammered, I fumbled and I ruined it!

When I was walking back with my friend we didn’t speak..she just said as if to console..”but you have a very good screen presence”..i felt sorry.. for her more than I felt for myself because she had to go back inside hiding her face..

8 tears since..I’ll tell you how l remember this small incidence very clearly..obviously one who gets embarrassed so badly would remember it but I have another diary..

Back home, I took out a diary and sat to analyse what really went wrong.. was the situation too intimidating? was it that I didn’t deserve to be there? Definitely not. I wrote a lot that afternoon and I concluded that a situation cannot define me..what happened has happened and the only solution is moving on..

It was writing it down in my journal that helped me move forward..a habit that I developed in school, lost in college and resumed after this episode..i get up and I write into my diary every single day since then..

That gift of this simple habit helped me sail through the times when I gave 20 more auditions in the next 15 days finally landing up in a national channel as a host called Care World TV with not very great TRPs but a great learning platform..the network that I made is still helping me..the gift helped me when I got married in a huge joint family of 20 people with a common kitchen, it helped when I was seeing someone very close battling through brain cancer and most important of all it makes me lead every single day ahead with a preparation, a mindset with balance!

My diary is a place where I speak to myself..i express gratitude and reiterate, I write down my worries, guilt and diary is my altar ego and my best companion..and I make sure I keep it out of reach of my mum-in-law..:)

I highly suggest you to please embrace this habit and while it might not change your life but it would definitely keep things easy on your heart.