WORK FROM HOME – A LUXURY OR AN AUSTERITY?

Ever since the lockdown began, things seemed a little upsetting. For me, it was just a complete stop to the new beginning of my office going. as I was just getting used to the environment at work almost after 10years of being at home. But again work was normal to me as I have been freelancing for a while but going to the office and being with my colleagues was a fun time. Thanks to the lord that i am always surrounded by happy people who keep me at joy.

But again, Everything is a blessing in disguise.

Lockdown and back to work from home did have lots of pros for me as a mom, and a woman as such. There were those times when I hardly took care of myself and every day was a marathon for me. And indeed the new job thing was also taking up my time with my kids, family and my besties. Now with my travel time saved, I kind of profited extra time which I surely get to use in plenty.

I also started working out much more and also took time to be with my kids. Things never seemed to be complex amidst work and life balance for me. Even though at times I do feel exhausted and lost (obvious mood swings), I still feel this is PERFECT!!.

I started to focus on my writing and even reading too. I helped my children to get to read more and also enjoyed my “Me-time” as well as my “buddy-time” which was almost negligible then.

There are also things which are not in our control like work-wise the expectations lay more specific as we have no excuses to make or run away from work. But again, here I feel blessed as my work is my passion, hence it never took my mind off.

Everything seemed to change, but some things never changed, like;

  • everyone around me asking for one more dosa, when I am in a hurry to finish my kitchen work and get to work,
  • asking for attention, when I am lost in work…
  • asking for specials to cook, when I am exhausted…
  • asking for an extra walk, when my legs are aching to take a break…
  • asking for the long story at bedtime, when I am in love with the bed, who is cozily rolling me into sleep.
  • the alarm that goes beeping, when these winter nights are for sleeping.
  • the morning rush, even when I am on a holiday, as others are not…

I know these things will never change, even if its work from home or not. All I need to change is my attitude towards it.

And all will look PERFECT as I wished for.

NEW NORMAL, GO AWAY!

‘Lockdown for 21 days’- many generations witnessed it for the first time in their lives, perplexed and scared, we all waited, unaware of what was going to happen next.  As COVID started spreading its tentacles, lockdown increased. We felt blessed to be at home, safe and together with family and started to spend the time by playing games, making video calls, finish the pending movies and series on our watchlist and experimenting with many new recipes.

As we were adapting to the new changes in our routine, work from home was declared for majority and online classes were started too. Offices and schools were managed and executed from the very comfort of our homes. Initially, we all were happy that work and learning would continue, but for this long, we never thought or imagined. Every month we kept on expecting a miracle for COVID to get vanish, but the cases increased.

I am sure many homemakers, like me, must be dead tired by now. In the pre-covid times, we used to have our ‘me time’, but not anymore. After my husband left for work and kids went to school, I had a lot of free time, but now I crave to get 15 minutes during the day. With offices and schools entering our homes, the meaning of ‘home’ seems to get faded somewhere. Earlier after coming back to home, we used to relax, but now we want to get out of the house. Sanitizing the groceries, managing online classes, the skewed meal times due to anytime office calls, the hushing up of kids during meetings, looking for a new game for kids every other day, etc., etc. We homemakers are really frustrated right now, at least, I am!    

I really had enough now and I don’t like this ‘new normal’ anymore. I long for the pre-covid times when everyone could walk out of the house without any worry. My kids also want to go to their school and meet their friends. We want to travel places, but not with our masks on and botheration to sanitize everything around us.

The ‘new normal’ taught us many things like proper utilization of resources, restricting impulsive buying, enjoying in tough times and a lot more. We have learnt our lesson and hope the ‘old normal’ returns soon!

MULTITASKING: FEW INTERESTING CASE STUDIES

It was a winter time when my beloved cousin sister hurried to the bathroom for taking bath and poured warm water on her body before mixing cold water in it… And guess what… She burnt her skin. Her mind was elsewhere…probably on a multitasking mode. As we know that there are tasks which don’t need our sole engrossment and our concentration can be divided. My sister knew that taking bath doesn’t need her soul engrossment though she forgot that her soul concentration was much needed before pouring down warm water on herself.  She had a tough time managing her wounds though we had so much fun discussing her absentmindedness.

Guess what? I just called her up right now and we had a laugh talking about the same incident all over again.

Let’s move on to the next cases…

It was a morning time and my wife was screaming at me, asking me to store water in the buckets before the water runs out. And I was about to get inside the bathroom when my aunt called me. I received the phone and kept talking to her while filling the water in the first bucket. I was fine till the water came to the brink of the bucket. I bent down to lift the bucket keeping my phone between my left shoulder and head. The handle of that bucket was broken and I had to lift it by using both my hands. As soon as I lifted the heavy bucket full of water, my second wife, my beloved Nokia E63 slipped out of my embrace and ‘plop’ drowned in the deep sea water… Oops, I mean in the bucket full of water.

I quickly rescued her, took off her clothes, applied resuscitation but to no avail. She went into a lifetime comma. I had to divorce her and claimed an alimony of Rs.500 from the bakra (scapegoat) that I handed her to.

I had loved her so much and regretted multitasking at her cost…. 😛

Many times I have climbed to the 4th floor leaving my office flat which was on the 3rd floor while chatting on WhatsApp or talking to someone on the phone. Many times I have thrown the tablets into the dustbin instead of the torn wrappers while my mind is occupied with my work on the computer.

Found them funny? Did you have a good laugh? Good! I wanted it too… 😉

So to speak I am not at all good at multi-tasking. I usually give up on one while doing the other. And when I am asked to multitask, I shout back literally or show my displeasure. When my wife requires my attention while the TV is on, I ask her either to switch off the TV to talk or let me watch…do just one thing at a time.

Rajnandini, offered some good advice this week as she usually does every time and most importantly she talked about how multitasking adds heavy loads on our shoulders like – Reduced effectiveness, Lowered productivity and performance levels, Increased stress, Disorganised and cluttered mind, In many cases, more time spent than saved. Don’t you think we should get rid of those loads before getting into troubles, either with the funny ones or the serious ones? Keep thinking about it.

In the end, I am happy to close this week by bringing smiles to your faces.

Stay blessed!

MULTI TASKING – IT’S NOT SUPER HEROISM!

She: Hi!

He: Hello Dear! What’s up?

She: Nothing…just feeling bored and alone. What are you up to?

He: Working on my presentation for tomorrow’s meeting.

She: Oops…Sorry, I am disturbing you!

He: No…no, it’s okay! I can manage it! I’m good at Multi-tasking!

She: Thank you for giving your time… you’re a superhero!

He: Mention not! You too are important to me!

Isn’t this our everyday story? Then what’s exceptional and notable!

The daily demands of our professional and personal life are so much that hardly we have time for anyone. In school we were taught about 10 to 5 is work hours and the evening is meant for socializing…but alas today socializing only exists on social media. Whereas, in reality, the human is a social animal. Everyone needs at least a little amount of time for someone to refresh life.

The Bible says,

“Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed”.

But the big question is HOW?

Often we treat people multitasking like him (‘He’ in the above chat) as, Superhero! And there is no doubt we all have at least one such person in our life whether we have discovered it or not! But what is extraordinary in their superheroism? Are they from some other planet? Are they gifted and we aren’t? If they can do multi-tasking then why can’t we?

One of the brightest minds in human history, Sir Albert Einstein said,

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.

Problems and Responsibilities in life are obvious and its journey only finishes in our grave! But that does not mean we will compass our life in I, Me & Mine. We all have problems and God often teaches and answers while we live for others. But DO WE LIVE FOR OTHERS?

The Bible says,

For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Being multi-tasking is spending time, energy, and concentration. Every second is eternal after a second comes another second but not the same one! Hence, when we share our time diverting our attention towards a person and do our work alongside, it is an Eternal Gift that we gift to someone. The biggest gift we can give to someone is time! But DO WE DO SO?

“Everything that is good demands some amount of Sacrifice”.

Undoubtedly, multi-tasking demands an awful lot of sacrifices and often we may not get rewarded with our expectations rather we get cat-calls. But do we need to compromise with our goodness just because someone goes wrong! THEN WHAT’S THE RETURN?   

The Bible says,

And do not forget to do good and to share with others,

for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

However, will we still configure “MULTI-TASKING as the Super Heroic work” and inbox the term by categorizing it to a certain amount of people? How long will we be confined to our I, Me & Mine World? A life lived with giving the value of time – love and care to others alongside accomplishing our tasks and responsibilities is a life worth living…

Keep thinking!

ARE YOU A MULTI-TASKER?

Are you a multitasker?

Let’s check it out!

Right now as you are reading this article, what else are you doing?

I guess some of you may be driving, some may be cradling your baby in your arms, some may be making your child do their homework, some may be in the kitchen standing by the gas stove – waiting for the milk to boil or the curry to cook and some may be alternating between typing an official report on another tab and reading this article. Well, if you find yourself in any of the above places, you are multitasking at the moment!

Doing two or more things at the same time makes one a multitasker.

Most of us wish we had an hour or two extra over and above the 24 hours at our disposal daily. Especially as people and events around us seem to move at such a fast pace in today’s advanced world, we are expected to match up to them all. In cities and towns, multitasking is the norm of the day – for the young and the old alike. In the rural countryside, things are better-paced with easy breathing space.

Multitasking helps one to accomplish many targets at the same time. Seems to be a great skill to acquire! Afterall, who doesn’t wish to complete maximum tasks in minimum time with still some time to spare!

WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN WE MULTITASK?

Multitasking, in simple words, means switching tasks. When we switch to and from one task to the other, we exert pressure on our brain cells forcing them to function as per our requirement. Our brains are designed for organised human activity.

Have you ever faced a situation in which someone rang the doorbell and your land connected phone rang at the same time? Were you able to take the call and speak to the person on the other end and open the door thus attending to the person standing out there, at the same time? Probably not! You are likely to have responded to one thing, keeping the other waiting for a while.

There have been times in which you felt annoyed while speaking to your husband who said he was listening to what you are saying, but his eyes were on the television screen or the newspaper or his laptop/mobile. Similarly, men must have felt their bit of annoyance while their wives keep nodding at what they say but all the while shuttling between different tasks.

They key word here is attention. You feel the other person isn’t paying enough attention, even though s/he claims to be all ears to what you had been saying.

I think you can now very well understand why the traffic cops penalize people from driving and speaking on their cellphones at the same time! Our brain needs to focus on the road while driving. At the same time, when we force ourselves to think and formulate our responses to the person at the other end of the line while attending to a call, our attention gets fragmented. And so, a major chunk of accidents are reported to be caused while drivers were on their phones while driving their vehicles. Hence, make it a point to pull up by the roadside if you need to attend to a call or make a call and then resume driving. Be focussed. Be safe.

We can focus and primarily attend to only one thing at a time. And that helps us to accomplish tasks better, with increased effectiveness and high level of productivity. Neuroscience and psychological research studies have proved this over and over again.

The cognitive faculties meant for one task are split into two or more areas when one multitasks, thus rendering injustice to all the tasks involved. Multitasking ensures that all the tasks are completed, but not as well as they ought to have been.

Here are some baggages that come along with multitasking –

  • Reduced effectiveness
  • Lowered productivity and performance levels
  • Increased stress
  • Disorganised and cluttered mind
  • In many cases, more time spent than saved

Having talked about how we are mechanised to handle one work at a time, we cannot avoid the fact that many-a-times one really needs to multitask. Time management is the phrase to bear in mind.

  • Cut out on all the non-essential seemingly-important-but-not-so-important tasks from your schedule and fix them for another less occupied day.
  • Wake up earlier than you usually do (after ensuring your adequate amount of sleep time)
  • Delegate tasks to people around you
  • Don’t hesitate to seek help
  • Put your hands only in as many baskets as you can balance

Above all, seek strength from God to manage your daily affairs even as you do your bit to handle your chores to the best possible extent. Challenges beyond your means are inevitable. If you are a working adult with an ailing family member to care for while having to prepare breakfast and a three-four-item lunch and send your child to school – all within two to three hours in the morning, you know it all! Such circumstances require immense physical and psychological strength, despite all the pre-preparation and planning that you do. And so, the Great Designer promises to hold your hand and aid you in the multiple chores of your everyday life as you entrust your day into His hands.

THE ART OF MULTITASKING

I work for Philips Healthcare, a business of Philips that sells medical equipment to hospitals. To build these products, we follow Agile Methodology. Some of the software engineers might be aware of this term. This way of work primarily focusses on collaborative work which means the entire team to get together to complete a particular task which is the highest priority. And then move on to next task. This means that every team member is capable of doing any work with equal competence – which is never true. Each person has his/her own competency and preference for the kind of work. So, keeping this in mind – a term becomes very important in Agile methodology “WIP”. WIP stands for “Work in Progress”. It is a number that defines that at any given point of time how many work items is the team busy with. For a team of 5 people, WIP should never be more than 7 or 8. Again it depends on the competency of the team members and the complexity of the work items.

There are various case studies that prove that if WIP is too low – the team has too little work and is demotivated. If WIP is too high – the team is too overloaded and have to switch the context so much that their productivity declines. WIP has to be just right. It should keep the team busy, interested in work with optimum load and highest productivity. One of my roles in my job is to keep the WIP in the limit, not just of the whole team but also of each team member. No team member should ever feel that he/she is too overloaded with work or is getting too confused because of handling too many things.

Sorry, for too many corporate jargons from Software development. When I was asked to write on this topic, the first word that struck me was “WIP”. When I took over this role and understood this concept, I attempted to apply this also to my personal life. Yes, I multi-task and sometimes it is too much. “What is my current WIP? Is it optimum?” These two questions usually bring me back to the reality.

For example – currently, I am writing this article while sitting on a crowded bus going from work to home. My WIP is 2 – because I have to think and write this article on time and I also have to keep my eyes on the road to make sure that I don’t miss my stop. This WIP works because one is an active task (writing) and another one is a passive one (keeping an eye on the road). While multitasking, there can always be only one active task. It is not recommended at all to do more than one active task at the same time. Although we could do one active and multiple passive tasks at the same time. Taking the same example – if I switch on the music on my phone it would become another passive task. If while writing on the bus, I also start talking to my mom on phone – will it work? No. Because talking and writing will both be active tasks. I will have to stop writing now if my mom calls me on my phone.

Now the catch is that sometimes an active task slowly becomes a passive one. For example – for me driving is an active task because I am not a very experienced driver. I cannot even listen to music while driving because it distracts me from the road. However, my husband can also talk on the phone while driving (yes, it is illegal I know – but he can). This is because driving has become a passive task for him because of his practice. Similarly, for a lot of women cooking becomes a passive task. We just are so experienced in this area that it doesn’t take our conscious mind to be completely empty to do the task of cooking. At that stage, we can also combine cooking with teaching our child (a lot of us do that).

Problem with multi-tasking is that sometimes we make a task passive when it deserves to be active. I realized this when I learnt about “Mindful eating”. Mindful eating is a concept which emphasizes the need to be completely aware of what is happening inside our mouth and body while we are eating. Ideally, we should chew every morsel of the food at least 20 times. We should take in the colour, taste, smell of the food completely before swallowing it (eat with all 5 senses). We should listen to our stomach when it signals us to stop eating. All these can happen only if we stop making eating a passive task. However, I know that eating is the first task that we learn to make passive. Eating while watching TV, eating while working, eating while chatting with people. When eating becomes a passive task, we do mindless eating which is the primary cause of overeating and leads to all the side effects related to it.

Another task that we must not multitask is spending time with our loved ones. I am sure most of us are guilty of this. When the child is explaining what happened at school – we are checking our Instagram feed. When our spouse is complaining about his/her headache – we are focusing on the TV. When mom is talking, we are also busy with our heads on the laptop.

Multi-tasking is not bad. It just has some rules.

Rule no. 1 – Never try to do more than one active task at any given point of time

Rule no. 2 – Carefully choose which task is supposed to be active and which can be passive

That’s all. And you will master the art of multitasking.

IS MULTI-TASKING REALLY GOOD?

Multi-tasking, this word sounds great. It is carrying out more than one work at the same time. By this way of working we can do so much in a lesser time. Our ancestors used to say, at a time only one work should be performed. They said this so that we could concentrate solely on one work at a time. But in today’s life no one has enough time.

Since my childhood I always witnessed my mother doing so many things simultaneously. The moment she left her bed in the morning to the moment she went back to bed at night, she handled so many tasks at the same time. At first, I used to think she got some special powers, similar to what I saw in cartoons and superhero movies. But with passing years I saw not only my mother, but every woman on earth is capable of doing more than one task at a time.

I used to think how it could be possible because we humans got only one body and one brain. It really amazed me to divide my attention to more than one work. My mother is a working woman. She wakes up early and since then she puts her hands into numerous work. And those works are accomplished very well. But sometimes, she wouldn’t get the desired result. Like if she is cooking food and teaching my brother at the same time then probably she would burn her hand or some ingredients would be more or less in the food. She very well knows if she will take multiple works in her hand, then there’s chance of some mistakes but still she never thinks twice before being multi-tasking woman. May be, because she has got so many responsibilities that has to be done. Not only this, we must have seen in advertisement that there’s a family. All of them are busy in other works whilst eating. Okay they may be having some really important work. In this way they don’t get to interact with family and they tend to drift away.

Whenever I see my mom, she never shows her tiredness. And I am sure all women do the same. But handling so many works at the same time requires too much effort and people tend to get tired easily. I can say this because I have experienced it. It was my cousin’s wedding and as we know, we have so many rituals and customs in wedding. Therefore, I had so many works to be done. I was bridesmaid; I had to look after guests, ask them for food and refreshments and had to see many other things. The bride (my cousin) asked for me for every little thing. Though, I managed to do everything so well but after marriage ceremony was over, I wanted to take some rest. My body was paining too badly. Still there were so many relatives and guests in the house, so I couldn’t take rest. I felt as if there was no strength left in my body. I desperately wanted to sleep.

So, what I felt, even if we are multi-tasking but our body needs some rest and it can’t be multi-tasking every time. It is our physical need to take rest. Yes of course, multi-tasking can be important at times when so many works have to be completed in a very limited time period. We achieve this by the help of our will-power and inner spirit. But we should not neglect the condition of our body. Because if our body is tired then we won’t be able to give our best in whatever we do. Being multi-tasking is not bad but sometimes it can be really bad.