Why doctors and lawyers ‘practise’

Since 2015, I have been a software freelancer. I have been frequently asked about where I work, to which I respond that I work from home. I am asked if I have my own business and company. My reply is that I work alone on contract with companies and that I don’t own a company and do not have employees. I explain that opportunities of such nature are abundant in fields like photography, carpentry and weaving, and thankfully in software.

To my own surprise, I have often caught myself replying, “Not a business, I’d rather say I have my own practice*.” I have heard several individual professionals, mainly doctors, lawyers and chartered accountants who use the term ‘practice’ to describe their occupation. It is a wonderful term in my opinion, something that perfectly describes almost everyone’s occupation, whether working alone or with a company, whether a sweeper or the prime minister.

Continue reading Why doctors and lawyers ‘practise’

Book summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Title: Atomic Habits
Author: James Clear
Publisher: Penguin Random House
ISBN-10: 1847941834
ISBN-13: 978-1847941831
Buy from: Amazon.in | Amazon.com

 

 

 

Introduction

There is a myth and an all-pervading belief that in order to transform your life, we need to transform our behaviour in a major way and need to do is fast. To lose weight, people go on crash diets overnight. Alcoholics and addicts go cold turkey. People with no previous experience with workouts join the gym and work out so hard on day 1 that they get sore muscles.

James Clear offers us a better solution in his book Atomic Habits. He argues that in order to transform our life and add new behaviour, it is necessary to take tiny steps and let the habits build and then change one thing at a time.

Continue reading Book summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear


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Getting your tasks done every day

Have you ever been through one of those days where nothing seems to get done? You sit to work on a complicated algorithm and just cannot get your mind or the code working. You may be unable to finish a financial report because you are getting distracted by a mind that’s unwilling to do maths at the moment. You start doing your homework, but give up midway.

Similar things happen with physical tasks too. You may not feel like going to the gym after a tired office commute. You feel too lethargic to go to the supermarket and buy the weekly groceries.

How can we get things done with more success rate throughout the day? By planning your day better and scheduling activities such that your mind, body and your environment encourage you to perform your tasks. Here’s how. Continue reading Getting your tasks done every day

Do’s and don’ts before a good night’s sleep

Insomnia. It was something that troubled me throughout childhood and even during my teen years. I remember as a child when I used to go to bed before my parents did. But I would fall asleep much later when all the lights went out and everyone was fast asleep. My sister had no such problems. She would be as good as knocked out within 2 minutes. I still don’t know what kept me awake during school days. Surely it was not homework or exams. I was good at those. My mood would be tranquil, but I just couldn’t fall asleep.

During my teen years and early twenties, I stayed awake for football matches in Europe, basketball matches halfway across the globe and late night movie binges. Thankfully, even in those days I realised that studying late into the night was not my cup of tea, so studies were part of my daytime routine.

I have come a long way ever since, tracking what kept me awake and what catalysed my sleep. These days I can’t keep my eyes open after 10:30 pm. In a previous post, I talked about a wind-down routine to set the tone for a good night’s sleep. I even have a post where I challenge you to do 10 things in the morning before you touch your electronic device. And in yet another post, I talked about the advantages of making do’s and don’ts lists. Today’s post combines the ideas from those three posts and lists some things that you SHOULD do for a good night’s sleep and things that you SHOULDN’T.

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Book Summary: Left Brain, Right Stuff by Phil Rosenzweig

Title: Left Brain, Right Stuff
Author: Phil Rosenzweig
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN-10: 1781251363
ISBN-13: 978-1781251362
Buy on: Amazon.com | Amazon.in

Intro

Swiss author Phil Rosenzweig talks about two modes in which our brain operates: deliberation and implementation. The process of deliberation is for carefully considering options and their outcomes. Pros and cons are weighed, the best and worst outcomes are sized up and a decision is made. With a decision made, the process of implementation is when you stop deliberating, focus on the tasks and get them done. Rosenzweig offers that the two modes are divided into the two sides of the brain: left and right. Continue reading Book Summary: Left Brain, Right Stuff by Phil Rosenzweig


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What 10 things will you do before you touch your electronic screen today?

Are you ready? In this post, I am going to give you a challenge harder than quitting smoking or attempting a diet. I want you to wake up in the morning and do 10 activities, that’s right, 10, that don’t involve looking at an electronic screen, before you pick up your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. I don’t want you to do it everyday, but just ONE day EVERY week. No email peeking, no time check, no social media, no games, until 10 non-screen activities are finished. Are you up to it? Continue reading What 10 things will you do before you touch your electronic screen today?

Redefine your goals to something you can control

Sales and sports are examples of two highly competitive fields. These are fields where no matter what you do, the rewards are based only on the results. Usually the winner takes all and the losers are left to rue. The winners are celebrated so much that they become glorified heroes. The losers are often fired from their jobs, benched for the next game or never get to play at the national level ever again.

In both fields, the results are not under anyone’s direct control. One salesman may remind a client of his son. So the client prefers that salesman even though another one had a better pitch. A figure skater’s score is at the mercy of 10 judges. Scores often differ by a tenth of a point between the winner and the runner-up.

Yet, so much is the disparity in rewards / punishments between closing a deal and not closing it, coming first and coming second, scoring a goal and not scoring, that the performers in these fields are stressed all the time. Eventually, they get obsessed with the results, become sore losers, no longer enjoying what they do. They become miserable with the fear of getting bad results and facing severe consequences engulfing them. All because their environment focuses too much on their output and not on their progress / effort / process. Continue reading Redefine your goals to something you can control

Escaping the seduction of social media

When it comes to using a smartphone, I am a vetaran. This is my 9th year with an Android phone. I started from the November of 2010 with a Samsung Galaxy S running Android 2.2 Eclair. My latest phone, Honor 7, runs Oreo 8.1. I have seen my usage patterns over nearly a decade and boy, I know what addiction to a smartphone, especially to social media means. The compulsions were many. Photos had to be shared on Instagram instantly. Wherever I was, I felt the urge to check in using Swarm. I repeatedly checked my Facebook timeline for the latest from everyone and I too constantly updated my latest status. WhatsApp was constantly buzzing on my phone. My addiction peaked between 2011 – 2014.

Since then, with the help of several habit-building podcasts and books, I have successfully set up habits to de-addict myself. These habits have been so successful that I don’t touch my phone for three hours after waking up. Nor do I touch my phone between 8:30 am to 5 pm on days when I am busy with my freelance work. Finally, I have a compulsory ‘turn off all electronic screens’ time after 10 pm. My laptop shuts down automatically if I don’t stop working.

None of the methods I suggest is radical. They are simple habits that make it hard for you to get to your social media apps. If you are an addict, then this post will attempt to cure you of social media addiction too. Please let me know if they work for you. Continue reading Escaping the seduction of social media

Nail your hands-off tasks to get more hands-on

If you are making a vegetable pulav, do you boil the rice first or chop the vegetables? If you want to learn Android, do you download the software first or start reading the tutorials? If you answered the first choice in both cases, then you are on the right track. You have the ability to spot invisible, trivial, but important tasks that need to be kick-started and performed in the background, while you move onto focus-requiring important tasks.

Life is full of tasks where you pay active attention to what you are doing. You can only do one, or at most two, such activities at a time. Let’s call them hands-on tasks. However, some other tasks chug along merrily in the background not seeking your undivided attention. But they need you to kick-start them before you walk away. Ideally, you want the results of such tasks to be ready by the time you are done with your hands-on tasks. These tasks are called hands-off tasks.

Often, the most productive days in your life are when you remember to start the hands-off tasks, with their results waiting for you when you need them. You sail smoothly from one activity to another in a seamless fashion.

Continue reading Nail your hands-off tasks to get more hands-on

Book Summary: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

Title: What got you here won’t get you there
Author: Marshall Goldsmith
Publisher: Hachette books
ISBN-10: 1781251568
ISBN-13: 978-1781251560
Buy here: Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Introduction

Marshall Goldsmith is a behaviour coach in leading companies. His day-to-day life involves working with CEOs of top companies, entrepreneurs, top lawyers and dignitaries. Goldsmith takes these already successful people and makes them more successful. How can he do that? Is he an engineer? A businessman? A mystic?

None of these. Goldman has discovered that for the people who are already in the top 2 percentile in their field, further growth is not limited by skill or lack of magic. Instead it is limited by their own behaviour. The way they behave with themselves, their colleagues, their families and their support group influences their success. Goldsmith describes 20 habits that act as a hindrance to further growth of these already highly successful people. With these habits, people stand in their own way. Some of them hit a plateau, while a few of them self-destruct, throwing away their careers and relationships. Continue reading Book Summary: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith


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