My 3 Wishes for India

3 Wishes for IndiaI read somewhere that…

  • We can survive 3 minutes without air
  • We can survive 3 days without water
  • We can survive 3 weeks without food

3 seems to be magic number. With that in mind, I decided to come up with 3 visions/ 3 wishes for my India on this day of 146th birth anniversary of Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

3 of my wishes for India

  • Clean & green India
  • Nurturing children in loving environment
  • Productive/ conscious individuals

They are simple and straightforward. Let me explain!

  • I wish to see a Clean & Green India. While quite an amount noise is made in Swacch Bharat campaigns, I think that the concept of cleanliness or waste is something alien to the Indian Psyche. There are no wastes in our living system. Only by-products that can and is get reused in another system. Dr.XX who wrote the book, ‘From Cradle to Cradle’, talks about this concept in detail.
  • I wish to see ‘Nurturing India’ that grooms the next generation in loving and caring environment. Education and Training should take precedence both in our personal and political agenda list. However I don’t have a solution, I am glad to see very bold moves in the sector. While there is increased chattering and noise over the common agenda on the Primary Education – from primary level to higher education. Movements like Gandhi Fellowship, Teach for India Fellowship, Azim Premji Fellowship & University, – a new breed of professionals are entering the sector with so much of energy, inspiration and passion for change.
  • I wish to see ‘Productive India’. We have pushed into the global arena the demand for efficiency and quality has increased manifolds. We have proved ourselves in a lot of ways and this has further multiplied expectations upon us. We have to sharpen our processes both systemic and personal process. While there is inherent demand to sharpen the systemic processes, there is little or no call for the help to improve personal productivity. The Western thought has advanced a lot in this field with variety of doing tools developed during the past two decades of knowledge workers. I have been personally fond of this field and share a lot of consolidated resources to ensure that we all strive towards

What are YOUR 3 wishes for India? Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

The 3-Minutes Exercises: To Start & End Your Day

It has been quite a difficult task for me to find an appropriate way to start and end the day. I have been learning about these suggestions to write in the Journal immediately upon waking and before going to sleep. Those two times of the day are considered ideal to begin and end the day well. 

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Most people decide how their day is going to be within the first thirty minutes. If we can consciously leverage the beginning of the day to think and feel as good as possible when we start, it can definitely change how the day flows.

I have been experimenting with quite a lot of morning and evening routines and concluded (as of now) upon the following set of ideas to implement. See if it works for you too!

Download 3-Minutes Journal format

Starter: 3-Minutes Daily Prayer

What is my one-liner (daily affirmation) for the day?

I have been wondering to set a positive tone to my day and I found it what better way to start it than to start it with a personal one-liner. It is a quirky daily affirmation that I would want myself to be reminded off throughout the day – especially when I may find myself losing balance. It is like a mantra that brings equanimity despite the fire fights during the day.

It could be as simple as:

  • “I am alive today”
  • “I am the best of what I can be”

And to more complex and specific:Coue's Every day I am getting better

  • “I am best presenter of the day!”
  • “I complete the project deadline with flying colours”

Or the classic, proposed by the legendary French doctor, Emile Coue in early 20th century.

  • Everyday, in every way, I am getting better and better!”

When at lost, I use the one that I learnt from Simplified Kundalini Yoga practice from Vethathiri Maharishi:

  • “May the almighty force protect us, guide us, lead us, and support us day and night at all times, in all places and in all our duties.”

Using positive autosuggestions can help us tune ourselves for better frequency level.

What are the 3 MITs for the day?/ What would make today amazing?

An example:

  1. Dinner with family
  2. A Phone call to Appa
  3. Submission of project reports to the XYZ client

The practice of creating a daily to-do list has become an ingrained habit within me. I suggest you to create your own. Inspired by Zen Habits, I would recommend you to create a list of Most Important Tasks (MITs) to do that day. Kindly be choosy enough to pick only 3 MITs that is critical for you to progress. Agreed that there are other things that will be come along, however ensure that within your area of control, select 3 MITs that you promise yourself to complete.

Alternatively you can ask yourself – “What would make this day amazing?” “What are the things if accomplished would make me feel that this day was amazing?” Taking few seconds to decide upon such things could help create direction for the day. You know what to expect for the day and everything else is a bonus!

Concluder: 3-Minutes Journal

What am I grateful for today?

The habit of practicing gratitude has been deeply rooted in our Indian psyche and the Western Science is validating its benefit. Gratitude could simply defined as the ability to see the best of things, to appreciate life and existence. Dr.Martin Seligman, Father of Positive Psychology calls it as ‘Three Blessings Exercise’. This practice helps us to make an inherent connection with the universal reality by accepting what it throws at us and being appreciative of it in the process. Literally it suggest us to ‘Count our blessings’. I highly recommend you to take few minutes to conclude the day for those things you might be thankful for.

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For instance, today I am grateful for…

  • the fact that I was able to complete and publish this article
  • the wonderful support and comfort I am able to enjoy in my life
  • the unexpected wish and connection from a friend whom I lost track off

And many such things. So what are you grateful for today…

What did I got done today?

While the 3 MITs is one side of the coin, the other is reviewing what has been accomplished. In the process of noting and concluding the day with what has been done for the day, we leverage the principle of progress. It gives us yet another reason to document our forward movement and help us look for the day that comes next.

I personally use a web app called ‘iDoneThis’ to record and track my list of activities I got done today. It sends me an automatic email reminder every day, exactly at 6 pm, to record my done list for the day. Besides helping me track what has happened for the day, it also helps me record the reflection of things that happened. You could similarly start a process of noting a ‘I-got-this-done’ list. Famously, Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, Opsware, Ning has an anti to-do list, literally an index card where he records what he has done for the day. Apparently it has helped him quite a bit.

Why don’t you use this trick to end your day today. It might help you feel accomplished.

How could I make today better?

It is about life lessons. What one learnt during the day from the successes, failures, challenges and difficulties. I personally heard a friend who reflects upon his day and records one lesson that he learnt everyday. That is 365 lessons for the year and more than 3000+ lessons over ten years.

reflection 2

It could be a technical knowledge you gained, a skill you acquired, a piece of information that someone shared or a feeling that you discovered. Try noting it down as part of your daily reflection.

Action plan

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My 3-Minutes Journal

If you are fancy enough, you can check out the Five Minutes Journal and buy yourself a copy. Or if you are like me, create a page for yourself to record your entries.

Better still, I have created a 3-Minutes Journal format that you can download, print and use.

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

~ Charles Dickens

As the great writer, Charles Dickens says, let us renew the lost art of reflection and make it a habit to appreciate the blessings of our presents not on the miseries of our pasts.

 

Think You’re Cut Out for Receiving Success? Read This

I need your input, Sathya!’ he said when inviting me over for a coffee. He wanted to discuss his new business idea and apparently to get my wisdom. I did feel empathetic about his enthusiasm as well as anxiety over starting a start-up. I have been there. While he did entertain few of my ideas and I felt glad helping a friend.

Three months into his start-up and he invited me for another discussion. I could feel that he had tasted success. It was evident. In fact I felt he was his overconfidence in his tone and mannerism – he must have felt he won the entire world.

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While I left the meeting wishing him more success, I had this icky feeling about how about it. It is not just him I guess, but success indeed changed him.

As I was thinking is it failure or success that despises a man? We always were told that a man is defined and judged by how he accepts or receives failure. However I say we should change the definition. We should judge a man on how he receives success. Whether the person is able to receive it with dignity? Whether the person is able to receive it with magnanimity? Whether he is able to see through impermanency of success –that it is just an event and is temporary? Whether he is able to understand that the experience that he gained from this event can always be challenged at a later stage?

Too often with the easier access to success these days, people especially in our generation tend to be over confident about ourselves. We tend to think too big about ourselves and overestimate the effort that we have put into. No, I am not undermining a person’s valour, interest to pursue success but rather on how one changes when succeeds.

How well should we receive?

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two Impostors just the same.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

I believe in taking both success and failure in the same light.

  • Do not change yourselves and respond too quickly of your success or failure. The world has seen enough of it.
  • There is a saying in Tamil that says, ‘Arpanukku valvu vanthal, artha rathiriyil kudai pidipaan’. It means that a demeaned man on getting a riches, wears an umbrella in night. Be too big to be bothered either by success or failure
  • Be mindful of respecting people when you go through success or failure. Do know that there will be people whom you will need at times when you succeed and failure.
  • Do always be gracious enough to dedicate your success to those people who succeeded. In fact be gracious to credit success to those around you. Yes you were responsible for succeeding – yes you were the one who burnt the midnight oil to make this success happen. And yes you were the one who put the entire show together. People know this, especially those around you. However it is out of humility that raises within you in crediting those success to those around you. Do ensure you do this. People will love you for that. And in fact will work twice as hard next time to bring you success next time.
  • Don’t measure success in terms of getting things done as you planned it to be. Kindly measure it in terms of impact or outcome that your actions contributed. Moreover, ensure you have an internal yardstick to the continuity of this success in spite of your absence.
  • Consistency. People are going to wait for you credit your success to not more than luck. Kindly beware of this. The only other way you could disprove them is to get another success. For that kindly refer the above points.

Let us please not be blinded by the passing clouds of success. Let us remember to be ourselves both in success and failure, in ebb and flow. All the best for your success and receive it well.

What Faith can do!

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Faith can take you places that only imagination can limit.

Remember to believe in yourself.

Entrust your faith in the universal truth that we are born out of.

For it shall help us evolve. To help humankind reach the pinnacle of its evolution.

It is not far away. Look at the best in the world and in yourself. Because it is already within.

Why Your To-Do List Is Not Working? And 12 Hidden Principles to Make it Work

Not quite long ago, I simply kept ‘Writing for blog’ on my to-do list for some time. I kept on migrating it from my daily to-do list day after the other. It went to the point that I started feeling guilty about keeping it on my to-do list. I said to myself, ‘You know what, you are not made for writing.’ And my ego even supported me saying, ‘Sathya! You got better things to do!’

Eventually, I got over it.

The trick was knowing the difference between the task and the project, and 11 other principles while making a to-do list.

Most of us get the premise behind making a daily to-do list but terribly fail in getting the process right. Even worse, some go to the extent of blaming their failure to the tool itself. ‘Go with the flow!’ They suggest.

I have been studying how to use a to-do list efficiently for improving my efficiency and helping others to enhance their performance. Here are the 12 principles that could help you to design your to-do list better.

Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

12 Principles to Master Your To-do List

  1. Set up a weekly 20-minute meeting with yourself. First things first. Take time for planning, listing your master list, and reviewing your actions, at least once a week. If required, put it on your calendar and stick to the commitment.

  1. Review your day’s work. Spend the last 5 minutes of your day analyzing: what went well and what failed. As well as challenges faced, lesson learnt.

  2. 6 Boxes Focus Areas: Peter Bergman suggests that deciding upon one’s key functional areas give a lot of clarity. You can look up into your job description and your contribution to organization’s overall mission could give you an idea to decide upon your focus areas. I usually allocate my to-do lists to the focus areas on the 6 Boxes template. This gives me a tremendous amount of clarity and focus.

  3. If possible, finish your day by making to-do list for tomorrow. It clears up your mind. More importantly, you know what needs to be done that day because you made the list previous day itself.

  4. Batch work: I prefer to batch my phone calls/emails at a particular time. While most of us simply can’t deny being disconnected, we should try as much as possible to be connected; meaningfully, not otherwise. Few recommend checking e-mails only once/twice a day. I usually don’t attend to call as it comes; I batch it and schedule it during my pause time. I prefer to be on my feet when I’m on a call. First, it helps me to shake off my nervousness, secondly, it saves me from distraction on my laptop, and thirdly, I get a quick workout.

  5. Avoid confusing an event with a task: This is a common mistake we make. Meeting with your boss/team, presentation to the client, a phone call to the manager @ 11 am, conference call on Friday, appointments; those items that can be put on your calendar, should be placed on calendar. These are events, not tasks, and would demand scheduling. However, preparing a presentation for the upcoming meeting @ 4 pm is a task. Know the difference. Google Calendar works perfectly for me to schedule events. I get notification alerts and can add/delete events from my smartphone. Use it to the optimum advantage.

  6. Chunk the project into Task list: Anything that requires more than a single action step is a project. I learnt that ‘Writing for the blog’ is a project which can and should be broken into tasks list like, ‘Research for the article,’ ‘Make the first draft,’ ‘Submit for editing and proofreading’ and ‘Re-write’ and ‘Publish on the web.’ Now ‘Research for the article’ is on my daily to-do list. Notice that it is not even ‘Write the article’; it is just research. Chunking as it is usually called is a fantastic liberator for those confused.

  7. Differentiate Goal and a Task: I recently hit 30 years old mark. While it gives a sense of responsibility, it also feels burdensome sometimes. Particularly, I realized that I need to take control of my health. However, putting ‘Become my best physical self’ on my to-do list simply don’t work. I needed to identify my action item – eating healthy, exercising, meditating, etc. and based on the chunking put it in the habit list or my to-do list.

  8. Make a separate Rituals/Habits Lists: For quite some time, I have been trying to put habits that I need to do that on my to-do list. It unnecessarily clogged it. Now it is in my habits list like Exercising, Meditating, Drinking water, etc. I also have to tell myself consciously that habit is entirely different from my task list because I got too elated of doing my habit as mastering my daily task list. It was not so.

  9. Be mindful of boredom/fatigue. Alternate between tasks– so that you keep yourself excited. I usually try to jump from a work in Sales to Training to Marketing etc.

  10. Pause. I get and walk out of the office once in half an hour or so. I take my phone and make the calls. Or simply walk out and check out what others are doing.

  11. Finally, remember that it is not about getting things done, it is about getting the right things done. While enough has been said about prioritizing – based on urgency, importance, or based on the resource available, always working on high-priority tasks gives me enough stress. I sometimes prefer to sneak in a phone call to a friend, 2 minutes’ walk after lunch, a comment on an entertaining post I just read – to break from the monotony of work. In its strictest definition, these are unimportant tasks, but I find them rejuvenating.

I recommend you to apply each of the principles while designing your to-do list. It will not just help you perfect your to-do list, but improve your overall productivity by identifying the kind of work thrown at you, processing it and ultimately get it down effectively.