Getting Things Done

A colleague asked me for some pointers on how to better manage time. And, it occurred to me that the advice I offer will be useful to many more people out there. Here are some of the techniques that work for me…

A colleague asked me for some pointers on how to better manage time.  And, it occurred to me that the advice I offer will be useful to many more people out there.

Here are some of the techniques that work for me :

Slot time in your calendar for your Things to Do, instead of setting up task-list reminders.  That way, you get a reminder and you have also blocked time to do it!
 
Include reminders in your calendar for milestones or review stages of a big task too, and not just for the completion date of the task at hand.
 
As soon as you complete a meeting, setup a meeting request (or a calendar slot) for the actionables discussed – For yourself and your team members
 
Subscribe to some newsletters or read some articles, once in a while, on how to manage time better.  Slot time for that in your calendar, too!
 
Learn to distinguish between what’s important (and not urgent) and what’s merely urgent (and not important).  Then, slot time for the important stuff, too.  So that your “urgent” task list comes down.
 
If sub-tasks on your To Do list need to be delegated, delegate them NOW.  That way, the other guy’s clock can start while you’re still managing your ToDo list.

Don’t keep your Outlook open in the background.  When it’s open, don’t set it at “Check Mail Every Minute”!  Instead, set yourself time slots to check mail from time to time (e.g. every hour or three).  You’ll get more work done that way.

Here’s an excellent series of articles on how to keep your Inbox more manageable.  And, the parent site – 43 Folders – is a treasure trove of tips and tricks on how to “get things done” more efficiently.
 
Lastly, read “The 8th Habit” by Stephen Covey.   It will offer a very important perspective.

Universal Magic

The “universe” has always fascinated me… not only as a child, but also as a grown-up. As long as I can remember, I have been in awe of what’s ‘out there’…

I don’t know about you, but I grew up wanting to join NASA as an astrophysicist.

The “universe” has always fascinated me… not only as a child, but also as a grown-up.  As long as I can remember, I have been in awe of what’s ‘out there’.  In school and college, Physics was my favourite subject.  After all, Physics and Mathematics was the language in which the universe was written!

Over the years, I have tried to maintain my interest in this vast and intriguing body of work.  The world wide web only made it easier to access real footage from official sites like those of NASA.  What was once only available to geeks and nerds roaming the corridors of Princeton or JPL, was increasingly accessible to any one with a dial-up connection and Google on their browser.

Yet, over the years, you also lose touch with some of your interests, as you get caught up in the rat race.  That’s why, I am grateful to have come across one of Atanu’s posts reminding me of the wonders Life has to offer… to any one who has a few minutes to spare :

… the Hubble Space Telescope pictures. Check them out and even download them as wallpaper, but don’t stop wondering how magical the universe is and how fortunate we are to be able to observe it.

Thanks, Atanu.  For reminding me that the magic is still alive.

Unsung Melodies

Many of us who go through our entire lives firmly believing that whatever we are today, we are because of our own efforts and hard work.  And then, there are others who believe that all Life is a hand dealt by destiny… or by God.  While I usually subscribe to the notion of hard work and individual effort, I also cannot ignore the contribution that others have made, over the years, in shaping my thoughts and offering me a perspective I did not have to begin with.

Many of us who go through our entire lives firmly believing that whatever we are today, we are because of our own efforts and hard work.  And then, there are others who believe that all Life is a hand dealt by destiny… or by God.  While I usually subscribe to the notion of hard work and individual effort, I also cannot ignore the contribution that others have made, over the years, in shaping my thoughts and offering me a perspective I did not have to begin with.

Some of these “individuals” were responsible for the values and principles I have come to cherish.  Some, helped me in the career choices I had to make at the various turning points in my life.  While others, simply exposed my sensibilities to Art, Literature, Music, Movies and such finer aspects of Life.

But, ever so often, these contributions remain unacknowledged.  No one knows about it, but you.

I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge one such contribution from someone who’s singularly responsible for the w-i-d-e variety of Music I have come to love, over the past two decades or so – Vivek Doraiswamy.

Through him, I learned to appreciate artists as diverse as The Righteous Brothers and Dire Straits.  Through him, I was first exposed to the music of John Williams and Sadao Watanabe.  It was he who first introduced me to the BeeGees and to Yanni.  And, it was through him, that I first experienced the melodies of Pat Boone and Pink Floyd.

If you love music as much as I do, you will realize how much his contribution really means.  It is because of the times we shared, back then, that I now enjoy Hindustani Classical as much as Alternative Rock, Contemporary Jazz as much as the Golden Oldies!!!

Thanks, Vivek.  This wouldn’t have been possible without you.