Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Innovate while you work

In Innovation, Life, Productivity, Work on January 8, 2010 at 7:35 pm

When I joined my present company, I was a part of a team. My team included two HRs, few web-designers, few developers and testers along with a team leader and a project manager, like any team in a typical IT company.  Most of the things were handled in an unplanned way and the To-Do list was just a messed up list. No deadlines, no targets and sometimes no tasks clearly defined. Staff just looked tired and occupied by fatigue due to lack of interest. Our boss often commented: “Don’t do donkey work”, but the staff didn’t follow and continued with their donkey work.

I started finding ways to try to improve the way we collaborate and the way other things were handled in our office. I wanted to simplify things and make work interesting for me and others too. While coming and leaving office, ideas filled my mind and I started thinking of a concept, I named: Innovation at Work.

But how and what to innovate? Read the rest of this entry »

Living a less distracted life.

In Productivity on June 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Distraction in life comes in different flavors. Technology distraction is also one of them. Studies have shown that we are more productive when we do single-tasking and not multi-tasking. We are built for single-tasking. There is a huge amount of energy drain when we give place to all types of distraction during work.

· How many times you check your mail in a day?

· How often you submit your status on to any social site?

· How often you send SMS?

· How often you make a call that is not urgent?

· How long you extend your telephone calls?

· How many hours you waste on any social networking site?

I had a habit of sending frequent messages using my mobile phone. Later this habit became a nuisance. My entire conversations were happening through SMS and it took hours to reach the conclusion. The conversation that could have ended up in minutes with a telephone call, extended to an hour with messaging. It did not yield a good result. Often the other person misunderstood what I said via messaging. This habit resulted in another side-effect. Another sub-habit of checking cell phone screen often to convince myself that I had not missed any message. I lost concentration and peace of mind altogether. This habit of peeping on my cell phone screen distracted me often during work. I didn’t recognize that I was also giving strain to my body unnecessarily. I was continuously using my right thumb many times in a minute to type a message. The idea to eliminate this bad habit popped when the outgoing service of my cell phone stopped when I forgot to pay the bill. Few hours without messaging and calls relaxed me, though I was feeling something in my right thumb. I made a firm decision to get rid of this distraction and other similar ones. I followed some steps to eliminate this habit and quite satisfied with the result. Below I am giving the same techniques that I followed. You can use them and even refine it further to live a least distracted life.

1. Don’t involve yourself too much in any technology or gadget unless you truly recognize the significance of it in your life. Awareness of any technology is good, little working knowledge is an added advantage but addiction without any outcome is a nuisance. You are loosing your valuable time, energy and peace of mind.
2. If you enjoy internet surfing, allot a certain amount of time but don’t surrender your entire day.
3. If you are not in a profession where you get frequent e-mails, check e-mail once a day.
4. Be brief in your conversation. Don’t extend your telephonic conversation unnecessarily.
5. Avoid stress as much as you can. Unknowingly, you are putting stress on your body and draining energy by just using your thumb for frequent messages.
6. Keep your cell phones away when going to sleep. Don’t play with the cell phone and wait for the sleep. Read a good book instead.
7. Unless very urgent, don’t pick calls while you are driving.
8. To start with, turn off your phone and keep other gadgets away. Devote at least one hour without these technology distractions and dive into your inner-self.

If you want to be productive, practice a least distracted life. Utilize the technology to simplify your life not to complicate it further. Distraction is a type of complication without pain. Pick what is useful and brings a positive change in your life but don’t become addicted.

The power of setting weekly goals

In Goals, Procrastination on June 19, 2009 at 7:28 pm

I read many books focusing on the importance of goals. The techniques suggested there in were sometimes too theoretical, as if the reader wants to do Ph.d, and sometimes too cumbersome to implement in real life. I also read about long-term and short-term goals and tried to implement the techniques on my life.

Credit: Marcell Marra

Nothing worked well for a long time and I was frustrated only after a few days of practice. If there are no goals, there is a lack of focus and I experienced that. Your efforts are not directed in the right direction, you waste a lot of energy and time and your days are wasted on trifles. I kept planning and searching for the right solution that works, for me in particular. I wanted a strategy that is easy to implement and gives a sense of accomplishment soon. I am practicing one such strategy and it is working for me.

  1. Write down all your goals for the current month. Don’t overload the list with a variety of goals that might remain unfulfilled. Write only those goals that are important and the achievement of which brings a real change in your life. If your goal will take six-months or say ten years, then break the goal into fragments so that it is achievable easily.
  2. Break the plan of a particular goal to a weekly sub-plan. Describe what you want to do this week. Don’t be over-ambitious. Only plan what is easily approachable and gets accomplished.
  3. To plan better, I use Microsoft Project. It helps me track progress and has other useful features. You can also use Microsoft Excel or even Microsoft Outlook for this. If you are lagging behind, refine your activity so that you can do it in next week.

Prior to using Microsoft Project, I used a very simple Microsoft Excel sheet. I wanted to keep it very simple so that I don’t have to waste time just to fill it daily. You can add any other things you need to record.

Breaking goals into fragments and tracking your progress on a weekly basis gives a sense of accomplishment. You won’t feel overloaded nor does the goal remain neglected altogether. To avoid procrastination, start your day by visualizing the points I discussed in my earlier post Doing what needs to be done. To-Do List and Goals are two different things. Thord Daniel Hedengren has written a very good article on his blog titled Setting Weekly Goals to Increase Productivity. If you already use weekly goals, please let me know your plan.

Doing what needs to be done.

In Productivity, Work on June 18, 2009 at 5:27 am

I noted few points on my diary to review them when I start my day. I got printed these lines and hanged them in my office in a location where I can see it often.

Am I too occupied in a task that need not be done at all?

Am I neglecting tasks that need urgent attention?

How productive I am today? Am I able to put less effort and gain more?

Am I absorbed in thoughts that have no relevance in my life?

Am I giving space only to positive thoughts in my mind?

Am I fit today in terms of body, mind and soul?

Am I speaking less and doing more?

Am I polite enough to reflect professionalism?

What I am doing today to improve this day of my life?

Whenever I take any task in my hand, I first question myself:

Is it the right task that I am putting my valuable time and effort to accomplish it? It needs to be done at all or not?

I have seen improvement since the time I started questioning. The essence is to do the right things at the right time.