Oct 24, 2007

I Said No to Multitasking

        Multitasking, said to be the 'chant' of the new age. With demands on our time increasing with the advance of time itself, multitasking is touted as the ultimate skill. Look at some of the famous names in the world...from boardrooms to ballooning over the alps, they seem to have time for everything. One day you see them at a social do, by the time you switch to another channel they are sitting on a chat show.

       Wow! I say to myself, I wish I could just manage to wash my car...read a novel...catch up on the latest match...and finish my coffee with the same dexterity. Simple tasks for us simple folks. Needless to say, I fail miserably. Even at the office, if you tell me to go through the mail inbox and finish a presentation in the same breath, I will tell you not to hold your breath. I just won't be able to do it. I guess being able to juggle two or more things at once is like being ambidextrous. Some people have it and some don't. I don't, so I have left it at that.

     Its not that I have never tried. I did read up on some fangled book with the ubiquitous 'How to do...' title. Went through a week with all the wisdom in it. By the end of it, I felt back on square one. Tired...stressed...and unaccomplished. 'Jack of all tasks, master of none' would quite aptly have defined my situation. I decided for myself that I am just not built for 'parallel processing'. Let me take one thing at a time. Finish one task and then move on to the next. Multitasking be damned. Back to my old ways but with a new perspective, I started focusing on ONE task, finished it but more importantly felt more involved in it. More vitally, my enjoyment factor also increased. Finally order reigned over chaos...and in this already chaotic world, its no mean feat. Perhaps, it did take me more time to go through all the tasks but the means did justify the end!

    From my experiences I have found that, pound for pound multitasking is less efficient more chaotic and certainly more stressful. Their is a better way.

My prescription reads something like this:

1. Have a 'Priority List'. Don't put anything and everything into it. Do it according to decreasing order of value. Finish the most important ones first. I don't put more than 4 items on the list.

2. Keep some buffer time for unplanned work...believe me they will come out from nowhere.

3. Divide your day into 'blocks of time'. Put the respective tasks into the blocks according to your preferences. I for example put the lightest work like answering mails in the afternoon, when I am feeling drowsy.

4. Work on the most important task first thing in the morning. With that out of the way, you will find that the rest of the day goes smoother.

5. Take breaks after every hour if possible. Keep up your energy levels.

6. Take up 'monthly projects'. For e.g. Learning Photoshop is my current monthly project. I won't look at another piece of software during this time.

7. Keep phone conversations to a minimum. It's the invisible sponge which soaks away some of our most valuable time.

8. Be neat, tidy and organized. Believe me keeping a tidy desk makes a tidy mind.

9. Learn to say 'No'. Time is our most precious commodity. Protect it with a 'No'.

10. Enjoy work and play, involve yourself with complete focus.

At the end of the day, I hope your basket of work will be empty and you will have more energy to carry it around.

Oct 20, 2007

Al Gore - Man on a Mission

Nobel Prizes are always hotly debated, more so the peace prizes. This time the Nobel committee made quite a radical departure by recognising the environmantal crusaders.

Al Gore's Nobel citation said,"His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change.He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."

Al Gore, has risen like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of failed,close run presidential bid which saw him losing out to George Bush by a whisker. (The world would definitely have been a different place had he come into the White House.). In the span of the last decade, he went from being the vice-president to the presumptive Democrat nominee for president to winning the popular vote for president only to lose in the electoral college after an intervention by the supreme court made his 537-vote loss in Florida official.Gore’s decision to give up the fight after the supreme court decision left some of his more die-hard supporters bitter, and he, by and large, retreated from public view for several years.The once political incumbent chose to quit the political arena to espouse a cause he was keen on-The environment.
Shedding his image as a brainy but dull policy wonk, Gore oversaw the Live Earth concert in July, which elevated him to Bono-like coolness in some quarters. “If you had told me 10 years ago that people were going to be appealing to me for tickets to a hot rock concert through my parents, I would have fallen over,” his daughter Karenna Gore Schiff told Vanity Fair magazine.

Today. on the centerstage again, he is in a vantage position to make a positive influence on the policy authors.

Footnote: British bookmakers once put 100-to-1 odds on Gore winning an Oscar, becoming a Nobel laureate and becoming president. He has now accomplished two of the three, and on Friday bookies slashed the odds to 8/1 from 10/1.

(This article is a commentary on an archived news article...some content is quoted from there)

Nobel Prize recognizes the environment

According to Alfred Nobel's will, the Peace Prize should be awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. "

Cut to 2007.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.
The Nobel committee in no small measure recognizes the primacy of environment vis-a-vis political and peace issues. The politics of peace (or its absence) threatens nations...the fallout of global warming thretens our very planet.

Global warming is ‘The Topical Theme’, which shows no sign of cooling down. And why not, as the earth gets hotter and progressively hotter with each passing year.
For a long time now the effect of man's industrialization and technological progress has quietly yet continuously eked away at the delicate balance of the planet's atmosphere and ecosystem, but within the last 30 or so years the pace of this damage has markedly accelerated. Within our lifetime we are experiencing change in weather patterns manifested in hotter summers, hurricanes, deluges brought about by cyclonic rains, increased incidences of diseases to name just a few. Is it realistic to blame it all on global warming and should we be concerned?
It is not easy to decipher to what extent this human-induced accumulation of greenhouse gases is responsible for the global warming trend. Other factors—natural climatic variations, changes in the sun’s energy, and the cooling effects of pollutant aerosols—affect our planet’s temperature, and understanding in these areas is incomplete. Nevertheless, evidence states that there is a discernible human influence on climate. There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. It is without doubt that we are sitting on a volatile time bomb, one that could send the entire planet into a tailspin of destruction.

Is their a panacea for this ill plaguing the planet. The answer is in the affirmative. But it demands universal cooperation and universal sacrifice. We cannot afford to wait for our neighbor to take that first step. We have to step up, for the cure lies in individual and civil action. It’s a veritable race against time and for the moment we are running against the clock.
Thankfully, today there is much greater empathy towards the environment. There is a heightened sense of awareness. The known and unknowns of our world have put up their hand and stepped up to save the planet from the proverbial apocalypse. These modern day ecological evangelists have managed to push the environmental agenda to the very top of political deliberations. The Kyoto protocol was a direct fallout of universal concerns. The challenge though seems to be in arriving at a global consensus. For that man will have to challenge his own greed. That remains the BIG ‘Q’.

Earth will survive global warming but will we? Maybe…but the only place we call home may not look the way we know it.

(This article is a commentary on an archived news article...some content is quoted from there)

Oct 19, 2007

Inspired by a cancer survivor

Megan Blunt recently won the Child of Courage award at the Pride of Britain Awards 2007. The outstanding aspect of the award? Megan Blunt is a 15 year old cancer 'survivor'. She was so influenced by her own struggle against the usually fatal diesease, that she wrote a book to motivate others with the same ailment.
This news item caught my eye because the headline read - 'Rowling Breaks down at Pride of Britain Awards.' The famed creator of Harry Potter, presented the young heroine with the award and was moved to tears.
Her achievement by itself is stupendous. What makes it extraordinary is her age. She chose to go beyond the fact of her survival, and through her book is attempting to inspire others towards recovery.
Here's an excerpt from an interview (sourced: http://www.bbc.co.uk/essex/content/articles/2007/03/05/megan_blunt_qa.shtml)

Q: How will your book help other young people?

A: Hopefully my book will help other young people as it contains hints, tips and easy definitions of some of the long technical medical words. I hope that my book can be used as a reference book on how to survive cancer. It’s good to read something positive when you first get diagnosed!

Medicines can help. But the person first has to help himself. Megan chose to stay positive and focussed on that positive end. She avoided going into the ugly side of cancer. She says in her own words that,'it is normally only the scary and upsetting stories that are published.' Her positive approach is a testimony to the fact that the mind cures faster than any medicine can. The mind is the ultimate placebo.
We face so many supposed problems in our daily lives...problems which pale in comparison to that of Megan. Why do we give up so easily. I think we give up in the mind first, the rest of the body just tags along. Around us their are a lot many more Megan's, who jump through the hurdles to create their dreams. If they don't give up...why do we. Often, overcoming hurdles is just about putting one foot in front of the other and moving on inch by inch. It only helps to look at those who are less fortunate than us...count our blessings...understand that our own troubles could be insignificant if we really care to look at it that way. Let's get inspired!

Oct 11, 2007

God is There...A Snippet

This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have ever read.

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and have his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they struck up a good conversation. They talked about many things and on various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists."
"Why do you say that?"
asked the customer.
"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long unkempt dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and dishevelled.
The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."
"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!"
the customer exclaimed.
"Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside." said the customer.
"Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me." countered the barber.
"Exactly!" affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! That's what happens when people do not go to Him and don't look to Him for help. That's! why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

Good Mornings and Good News

Why is it that bad news is so prominently highlighted and the good ones relegated to the inside pages? This is a question I have always asked myself . The morning brings with it hope and fresh promises. But the morning papers brings death, accidents, robbery and general despair. A cursory glance at today's paper ...and their it was again. Line after byline giving away information on the bad and the ugly. The good was conspicuous by its absence. I had to turn three or four pages to arrive at the first bit of positive news. Is their so much wrong with the today of our world.? I honestly wonder...
That is why perhaps the odd human victory makes for compelling reading. Why don't we gravitate towards it more.?Why don't we have some positive press?
The answer perhaps lies in what we seek...we shall find. The old Biblical statement.
(Of course the correct one is:“Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”)
Lately, as a result, I have started reading the papers from the back pages...closer to the sports columns which at least give me some semblance of positive news.
Consciously, now I have started to develop a positive attitude especialy when I step outside the comfort zone of my home. This blog is also an attempt to seek out all that is positive in this world. Life may not be all rosy...but I guess it pays sometimes to just pause and smell the roses.