Treat your brain like a two-year old child to beat procrastination

You have heard productivity gurus often say that in order to go to the gym the next morning, you have to lay out the clothes near your bed at night, or perhaps even sleep in them. This sounds like excellent advice. But despite that friction-busting move, here’s what happens in the morning.

Alarm clock: RRRRiiiinngggg!

You: Okay, let’s go to the gym.

Your brain: Whiiiiiiiiine…. I want to sleep. The bed is comfortable. I am not getting up.

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Explore and exploit: The intentions that determine our choices

Let’s say you have a dinner date night with your spouse this weekend. Will you pick the same restaurant where you have been before and enjoyed your meal or will you try something new? Your regular restaurant will surely guarantee a great experience. That’s why you often go there. But it takes away the feeling of serendipity. A feeling of discovering something somewhere which is better than any experience you have ever had. For that you should seek a restaurant you have never been to. What if you stumble upon something that becomes your new favourite? But contrarily, what if the experience there is so bad that it ruins your weekend?

You’ll never know the answer. You’ll never know if you are stuck in a rut, not willing to try something better. You’ll never know if a new trial will be a worthwhile experience. That is what we try to answer with the explore / exploit intention. Sometimes you have to EXPLORE new experiences, hoping that one of them becomes a new favourite. But more often, you have to exploit, using your existing knowledge to lock in a good experience.

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The four pillars of occupations

Hindu religion and several other cultures talk about the concept of trinity. In the trinity principles, three types of activities are spoken about. There is a creator who creates and a destructor who destroys. In the middle sits the concept of security, the one who protects. As with anything in Hinduism, these principles are deified. They are Brahma (creation), Vishnu (protection) and Shiva (destruction). Our occupations today can be classified into these three categories. Along with them, I would also like to add another category to make it a quartet, i.e. maintenance. I call these the four pillars of occupations. Continue reading The four pillars of occupations

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.

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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.

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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