Grab any magazine, read lifestyle sections of newspapers, go through productivity blogs or read productivity books. Everyone tells you the importance of morning routines, a regular sequence of actions you do every morning to build up to peak performance. Without the rhythm of a morning routine, you may mindlessly fumble through the day.
Most morning routines (including my previous one), fall under two categories: getting physical so that your body grows energetic (jogging, workout, yoga) and getting mindful so that your mind can focus better (meditation, journaling, worship).
Focus is a skill and needs practice too. While it is not possible for to focus throughout our work duration, we can all start small, build on the progress and gain the skill of deep focus.
Do the heavy lifting before you start:
This is something our mothers have always known. The vegetables are cut, the mix has already been marinated, the dough has been rested, masala is ground and handy. Everything is laid out in front of them , ready to use. They exactly know the cooking time required and do supplementary activities.
For a maker, the ability to Focus is one of the most important assets even over their technical skills. Cal Newport in his book ‘Deep Work‘ predicts that Focus will be a competitive advantage for the makers. In this post let us examine some Do’s and Don’ts to achieve better focus and thereby better success.
Sandra Bond Chapman, founder and chief director of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, suggests things that we can do in our every day life to focus better.
When we multi task, what we are actually doing is switching tasks. As in a production run, even in our head, there is a cost to switching from one task to another. There are certain tasks that are conducive to multitasking, and some that are not.
In his website Smart Passive Income, host Pat Flynn, also the author of Will It Fly, describes how he sets a different theme to every day of the week. This helps him focus on a certain project for the day by pushing everything else to other days with respective themes. Read about it in the “Communication and Calendar” section here.
I have already discussed how I use a calendar to schedule my days. However I soon realised that a calendar has its limitations. In Pat Flynn’s podcast with Mike Vardy, they discuss how a calendar is an example of horizontal scheduling and how it leads to focus being fragmented and on particularly distractive days, how nothing gets done.
The solution is to use a concept called day-wise themes.
After a particularly dull meal at my parents’ home, I went into the kitchen opening tins of chips and biscuits to look for something to excite my taste buds. One moment, my hands were busy, but the next moment, I froze. Something had just occured to me. I had found my main course boring, so I was looking for distracting tidbits. I wasn’t even hungry. What my mom had made was healthy and good for the long term. I was looking for short term gratification. I started reviewing. How often do I look for distractions that are gratifying for the short term, while I should be working on something that moves me towards my long term goals. In fact how often does everyone do it?
At Amritsar, the Golden Temple looks magnificent inside a sparkling lake. The Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara is the most sacred place for the practitioners of Sikhism. Under its golden dome, in the centre of the sanctum sanctorum, lies an artefact that the Sikhs consider their Supreme Being. It is called the Guru Granth. It is a book. It is considered the ultimate Teacher to the Sikhs, prescribing how a Sikh should lead a life of honesty, respect and dignity. For the Sikhs, the Guru Granth is not just a book, it is a living being with a soul.
While other religions do not directly worship a book, they too revere books which teach them the way of life. Christianity swears by the Bible and Muslims look upto the Quran. Hindus do not hold any one book as their chief scripture. While modern Hinduism heaps a lot of praise on the Bhagawat Geeta, there are plenty more such as the Upanishad and the Vedas.
I am agnostic with no belief in religion. However I cannot help praising the fact that every religion revers the ‘written word’. Every religion I am aware of respects the experience of the people bygone and recommends that we read their ‘written word’ and try to make our life better by using that repository of knowledge. It is also what our parents told us during our childhood and what all successful people keep saying time after time. Let me make it short and sweet. “Read Books”! Continue reading Why reading is a unique experience
We all have chores that we hate to do, even in jobs that we love. Sales people who hate to file reports, Finance guys who hate to speak to people, Runners who hate to wake up early in the morning, Kids who hate to eat are more of rules than exceptions. What can we do that can bring joy or atleast make these tasks bearable enough to get them done. Answer lies in ‘Gamification‘.
Gamification – Defined:
Gamification is a great way to have fun while doing a mundane task or motivate others to do such mundane tasks. A good game is one that contains as many as 3 or 4 of the below features:
Free time, drool! That wonderful chunk of time when we can do ANYTHING we want. Importantly, it as also the time when we DO NOT have to do what someone else expects us to do. But wait! We may not be doing what others require us to do. But are we really spending it on ourselves? Well, sadly we are giving up our free time not by working for someone else, but by following someone else’s story too deeply instead of our own, even if their story isn’t inspiring or important to our own progress. Continue reading How to invest 30 days in yourself
In physics, we learn about a phenomenon called inertia. It means that a moving body continues to move at the same speed in the same direction or a stationary body continues to be stationary, unless someone does something to change that. Physicists have also framed a measurement system to measure the inertia of a body. This measurement is called the momentum. Putting a number to momentum is useful for letting us know just how much work must be done in order to make the body do something different than what it is doing now. However, for the purposes of English language, inertia and momentum are often used as opposites. The word inertia is used to describe a body not wanting to move and momentum describes a body not wanting to stop. The common ground for both is that they resist change.
How does this relate to human behaviour and getting things done? Turns out the human body and mind also show signs of inertia and momentum. The human body does not like sudden changes in movement and the human mind does not like sudden changes in behaviour. We can use these two facts to our advantage to start things off and get them done. I also later discuss when NOT to use the effects of momentum, since in certain cases momentum can build behaviour like addiction and inflexibility. Continue reading Momentum & Inertia: How to start things & get them done