KEEP LEARNING

Another year coming to an end. 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes or 31536000 seconds coming to an end. I am not the kind of person who will look back and try to introspect on the year gone by. I usually look ahead with excitement towards the coming year.

But this year has been different. There has been a lot which was different this year and it has taught me a lot of things. So today I feel qualified to write this article. There are two major lessons I learnt this year. Actually, it’s not some new age gyan I stumbled upon. We all know these things, we just tend to conveniently neglect it or forget it.  

Be Grateful: One lesson I learnt in the year gone by is not to take things for granted. Be happy and thankful for what you have. However boring or straightforward your life may seem, there are many blessings in your life. Value them and be grateful for them. You never know when they will go away and then we will realise their importance in our life.

Be ready to Evolve: Or in other words don’t be complacent. I made that mistake. After marriage, kids and family life happened I got myself so involved in these things that I didn’t work on myself.  Keep evolving. Keep learning. Try to improve your qualifications or maybe just learn a new skill or hone an old hobby. Basically, keep adding to your personality. You never know when these skills come in handy.

Life will always throw a googly at you at the most unexpected time it helps to be grateful for what you have and be prepared for what is going to come.

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LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

2018 is about to finish and now when I look back, I feel nostalgic. If anyone asks me how was 2018 to you, I would say, “It was the best in my life”. Reading this line, many of you might think, I just have got good marks or might have topped university exams or have got a good job with handsome salary. Trust me there’s no such thing. 2018 was best because of many other reasons. All the reasons when combined together, have given me so much. When 2018 started I was having a lot of stress. The reason for stress was some family issues. Though 2018 was not a fairy tale year but it made my year.

I graduated in this year and this really makes me happy. While I was leaving my college, I came to know what I earned so far. I earned love and affection from my teachers, classmates and also from my juniors. While returning back to home I had lots of memories which are going to stay in my heart forever. 2018 taught me the true essence of love. True love motivates us to look forward and work hard for our dreams. It is kind and never brags.

Every day brought some lessons for me. The best lesson that I learnt was “not everyone we meet or have in our lives are intended to stay forever”. The only thing that will stay forever is bittersweet memories. The year is ending day by day and so it is taking away toxic people from my life; for which I am very thankful. The last six month of 2018 proved to be of great teachings. I learnt so much. I saw myself as a grown up, matured enough to make life decisions. I found when we are determined; no one can change our decisions. Once we are determined, we get the courage to walk alone in the city full of crowd. Even though we are alone, we are always surrounded by our determination and willpower.

I hope 2019 will also bring so many lessons for me. It will be a year that will witness my growth as a matured and persevere human. I wish 2019 to award me with success and good health of my near and dear ones.  In 2019, I won’t waste my time in anger, grudges and being disappointed. I would rather invest it in being a happy and cheerful soul. After all, life is all about finding happiness despite the odds. Therefore, welcome your new year with open arms and hopes.

A SMILE – IS ENOUGH FOR ME TO KEEP GOING

Getting married, at an early age- not a child marriage though. It was not the time I intended to get married that is what I meant.

It just led me to grapple enough during the initial phases of my life. It was the time when I felt I should give up and drop away most of the time. I was like a fragile age of 21- which was the budding stage of my career. Work, home and marriage were tough to handle, as I never knew what to prioritize.

Anyways, no repent over the spilt milk.

When I was accentuated out, I spoke to friends, finally, when I thought I was crushing them with my silly grievances, I finally found nirvana in music. Lost in the music, it was easier for me to work along. Even when I was exhausted after work, I plugged in my music and did my household works.

For years this went on if I did ever recall.

I was also someone who enjoyed a lousy day, sleeping all day along, watching movies, doing nothing but just munching on every day. Seems I was never a fortunate one to enjoy it, as I was carrying the burdens of expectation beyond my reach. Managing my own dreams was easier than working on others demands.

Seems I was too exhausted, as I was breaking away and finally gave up my job which was either not meeting my expectations or vice versa.

Then came the blessed moments of my life, which I attribute as the best of my innings and truly the reason that I am happier in my life. Thinking about it buds a smile on me. Indeed the driving force in my life.

When I became a mother, there was a transformation in me, something beyond my expectations. I started to keep myself second in the queues or preferably last and considered to meet the needs of my child first and then the rest and finally me (which never happened though). Motherhood indeed steps us into a different world.  A world beyond imagination – as the feel was tremendous. I was someone like a career-oriented one who focused on winning. But with my little one in my arms, I wanted to just win her smile. Nothing else ever mattered me then.

Life is much easier when you are doing every bit of it yourself than expecting someone else to come into the picture.

It is the only thought I follow when I am lost in the countless number of responsibilities I have to carry on, in a day.

I am no different, as compared to any other mother in the world. I believe the rest do better than me always. The earlier years of my life taught me many things, that led me to handle this current line of responsibilities.

I fall and mend myself 

Like a baby learning to crawl and walk, I try and fall quite a number of times with none to pick me up when I fall off. I just pick myself up and push harder to reach my tasks.

My day begins in the early hours of the morning, as my kids are off to school by 7. It is quite early and I usually crib a lot in the morning, as the timings don’t let my kids sleep well. I have to cook her lunch and breakfast. Even though I can liberally choose simple ones, I don’t want to lose the taste of our Keralite dishes, which I savoured in my childhood.

I wake up by 5: 30, then either go for a walk or just idle around with a cup of tea in my hand with all things mounted on my stove. Call me a bad mom or irresponsible, I just taught my daughter who is hardly 8 years to dress up on her own. She does everything on her own- hence I am a proud mother.

Call it my lack of time management too- as I cannot dress her up, when I am in the kitchen. Thanks to her, as she helped me by doing her best for me.

Once all the lunch boxes are packed, and my kids and husband are off to school and office. It is my time.

I just clean up, my kitchen, and pending washing, simultaneously logging in to my work. Bein a work-from-home mother, I am privileged to do work in the comfort of my home. Thanks to all those who trust and assure work to me. It is great to ideally financially independent – that truly makes you feel great.

Another advantage I enjoy is the considerable amount of time, I can spend with my loving kids. It is the only pleasure I want to cherish until death. I work, do all my reading etc. the researching part of my content writer work before my kids arrive.

By evening time, I make something for kids and make them sit with me to finish their work, along with my work. As work is important- I can’t ignore that responsibility. As the day ends, I cook the hot dinner for my family and enjoy the bliss of togetherness on the dining table, where we enjoy the days’ joy, sharing what all we did the whole day.

In between all these, when I am struck with the lightning of thoughts, that are overflowing me- I just pen it down in my blogs. It gives me tremendous pleasure to share my thoughts through my writings.

Call me selfish

All day, even am burdened with responsibilities, I truly treasure my family. I just do everything I can without anyone around offering me help, as it is my happiness.

A joy that keeps me going is the smile of my kids and their happiness. 

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.