Thursday, January 7, 2010


Its that time of year when we start dreaming big again. When we make new year resolutions. Some to keep, many to forget. But the bottom line is to set goals.

What is Resolution?

According to "Resolution" means  "a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something."  But according to same dictionary there are two more meanings of resolution that people focus less on.

1) A solution, accommodation, or settling of a problem, controversy, etc.
2) Reduction to a simpler form; conversion.

If you look at the above two sentences closely, they are tied in a way. They complement each other.

Below are some ways to make "Resolutions" according to above definitions this year.

  • Identify the biggest problem that consumed your mental or emotional time last year.
  • Identify all you lost because of that problem - time, money, relations to the smallest degree
  • Now try to find solution for overcoming these small losses. Take the finding solutions part as an exciting game,  rather then mourning for losses.
  • If it's a person think even if it's worth expanding energy on that person, if it's a situation think of ways you can fix atleast some aspects.
  • Several times the solution to a problem is the Reduction to a level where it no longer bothers us.
  • Reduce your interaction with problematic persons
  • Reduce the negative influences in your life
  • Reduce the amount of spending on unnecessary items, consumption of bad food.
If you look at each aspect in terms of Reduction and Solution, automatically you will be paving way for exciting and positive things in your life. You do not have to set separate resolutions once a year. With the small positive steps in every day of your life, each new day will be as exciting as a new year.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mis en Place : Guide to Doing Things in Daily Life

From Wikipidea:
Mis en place (pronounced [miz ɑ̃n plas], literally "put in place") is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as "everything in place", as in set up.

Ever struggled with arranging a closet? Or if you are a CEO, ever struggled being on multiple boards with enough participation? If so, then you realize the only way you can fit in everything is if you know where it belongs.

Our life is like that. We have to know what goes into our days, if it has a place and how much place it takes. We have to chose to keep the best, and allot proper time for that in our life. For example, if you are a hobbyist you have to chose which hobby is going to have space in your life. Otherwise you will replace main things in your life with hobbys.

These are some of the strategies to have things in place in your daily life

1. Identify the Time Eaters
Are you working 2 jobs to payback your loans, or because you want to fill time? Are you commuting 2 hours to save 500 dollars on rent? Ask yourself this question, for all the stress causers and major time grabbers in your life

2. Think of Alternatives
What else would you like to do if you have the extra time? Would you be willing to buy 2 hours each day for extra 500 dollars a month? Translating time into money sometimes puts things in perspective

3. Don't clutter your day or Life
Life is precious. Don't fill it with unnecessary junk. Don't make a habit of doing too many small things, instead readjust your day to have time as major chunk. Just like too many spices spoil the flavor of a soup, too many things will overwhelm the life.

4. Have goal times
Just like you show up to work at a fixed time, have in place fixed time slots for your goals. You cannot walk out of a meeting. Similarly don't let anything disturb your goal time (unless it's something important, like a baby howling for attention).

5. Ask yourself why?
If you have to watch TV ask yourself why? Can you find a book instead? Most of the times the single question will save you time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Time Sense: Take Time to Track Time

Ever wondered where does the time go? I think all of us do at one time or other. But if you do it often, it's "Time to Track Time"

1. Track time for at least 2 weeks
  • This is because you might have a bad week, and you want to have an average week
  • Also, when you start out you tend be extra cautious, which does not reflect your real lifestyle
2. Make a note of it everywhere @work, @ office, or in the mall
  • Ofcourse you do not want to be considered weird, so do it discretely: By sending yourself a text message, or jotting down on your notepad (if you are in meeting)
3. Track time in increments: 5 mins, 10 mins or 15 mins increments
  • Each person has different attention span. Some people can focus on one thing for 15 mins, some only for 2 mins. Track accordingly
  • Summarize in terms of "What" you are doing: (talking, dancing, reading) , "Why" you are doing (gossiping, hobby, research)
This is an example of how you can do this from late Prof. Randy Pauch's "Time Management" talk (Nov 2007), with the What and Why columns (activity/function)(The presentation is available @ )

  • Apart from the above columns, also track the names of people involved (spouse, neighbor), and location(house, office).
  • The people and location columns are really vital to know who takes up most of your time.
  • Be as specific as you can of what you are doing

4. At end of 2 weeks, add up and calculate the percentage of hours you spent on things that matter
  • This will tell you where and how you spend majority of your time
  • It might also give more insight into what you like doing most
5. Improve your habits for another 2 weeks
  • If you focus time was only 5 mins, try to increase your focus time from 5 minute intervals to 15 minutes
  • Also try to reduce time waster by atleast 50%, and replace them with good habits: Example if you spend daily 4 hrs on tv, see if you can replace that with exercise and meditation
  • Repeat this till you are satisfied how you spend your time


Sunday, August 3, 2008

How to Discover Happiness through Laughter

Laughter is the best cure...Laugh and the world laughs with you (or is it smile ?)

We encounter these and several adages through the day: in a book, in a movie, on the road.

Is laughter tied with happiness? Yes and no. Happiness is a state of mind. You can be serious and still feel the happiness inside you. Laughter is an indication that something amused you. It is short lived. If happiness is the goal, laughter can be one of the effective way develop happiness.

Medically laughter is very beneficial to our mind and body. Below are some online articles, click for more details

Cut Stress by Anticipating Laughter?

Laughter is good medicine for reducing stress, enhancing brain ...

Now establishing that there is some benefit of laughing, we need to find how we can laugh away through out the day:without joining laughing clubs, or without sounding goofy.

Guidelines to Laugh

  1. Watch funny sitcoms on TV: Sitcoms need not be the new ones, they can be 20 years old too. You don't have to share which ones you watch. Just make a habit of watching the ones that makes you laugh or chuckle throughout. Preferably avoid watching with someone who does not share the humor. Limit it to one 30 minute episode. Try to vary them each day. Otherwise you might become a tv addict.
  2. Find people who makes you chuckle:Try to have 5 minute chat with people who jokes. (More than that the joke may turn on you). If in a shop try to find the most cheerful salesperson, and pass a joking comment, they might come back with a witty statement. The goal is to smile as much as you can, without appearing weird.
  3. Limit Negative Environment: Since we live in a social environment, we cannot always avoid things or people that affect us negatively. So limit it. If you have to deal with in-laws you make you feel bad, limit the time you have to listen to them. Or keep talking about something which makes both of you smile. Try to be pleasant but not at expense of your happiness.
  4. Laughter is contagious: Walk in a mall and look at people who are laughing out loud. It will at least bring a smile to you. When in a group you don't always have to talk. Just listen to the wittiest people in the group, and laugh out loud. Most of the time others will too.
  5. Cartoons !!!: They are everywhere. In newspapers, tv, internet. For every life style there is a cartoon that might amuse you. If you are in IT it's dilbert. If you have a troublesome kid it's Dilbert. Sometimes looking at people and situations in terms of cartoons will bring a new perspective and bring out the laughs.
  6. Games: Bingo, or game of tennis, or anything that gets some part of your body moving will kick start the brain. Each action can be preceded with a laughter. You can play with a frown on your face, but better precede each action with a comment. If not you someone will laugh, and as we said laughter is contagious.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How to manage multiple projects

My previous post focused on how to start and finish.

But how do you know which of the billion things on your plate to focus on? There are many cogent methods to getting things done. But how to them both effectively and efficiently. Which of the things to do? All of them or Some of them?

The method I am following now is
  1. List all projects and subtasks
  2. Group Similar projects to eliminate redundancy. I discovered most of the time projects have some similar tasks (i.e material from can be reused in other project)
  3. Divide the day into 3 segments
  4. In Segment 1 , try to finish as many small tasks as possible (irrespective of project)
  5. In Segment 2, Focus on the most urgent project (based on deadline)
  6. In segment 3, Focus on the high yield projects (based on high return)
Below, I tried to summarize in 3 steps, the systems that inspired me.

Getting Things Done
  • A List Method, Divide the list into sub lists called next action.
  • 2 minute principle
  • Do it, file it or trash it.

Four Hour Work Week
  • Follows the 80/20 principle.
  • 80% of the benefits are derived from 20% (friends, projects, etc.)
  • 80% of the things can be done in 20 % of the time.
21 Segments
  • Each week consists of 21 segments;
  • 3 segments per day: morning, afternoon and evening
  • Organize your activities into these segments.
Printable CEO
  • Track tasks and how much time you spend on each of them
  • Mark your time in 15 minute bubbles
  • Several visual templates