Friday, September 30, 2011

Baby Steps to Life Transformation

Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu

All people want to become stunningly successful in life.  Don’t we?
Yes. But this requires stepping out of the comfort zone and doing things which we have not yet done. ‘Doing the same things in same way over and over again and expecting different results is the biggest insanity’, said Einstein. But doing different things or even doing the same things differently is painful and scary for many of us. Well, here is the good news, we do not necessarily need to kick start and fly to win the race. You can become stunningly successful and that too without revolutionizing your way of thinking, behaving and doing.  Let me ask you a question – What is the best way to boil a frog?
Put a live frog in boiling water. Right? No. The frog will jump out of the boiling water. The best way to boil a frog is to put it in moderately warm water and then very slowly turn on the temperature. The frog will do nothing to resist the change in temperature. It will slowly get used to the heat and end up as a fully boiled frog dish! Yes, this is a cruel story but a true description of the process of change. Millions of people become slave to smoking, drinking and other vices just like the frog. They start doing things for instant gratification and feel warm and cozy doing those things. Then they gradually increase the share of their clock, wallet, heart and mind spent on these and end up being a slave to the enemy and dance before them even at their own loss. Let me tell you a fact, the same (yes, the same) process holds true for building good habits, great character and beautiful life. It must be a step by step process. Slow and steady can too, win the race. Strategy consultants call it organic growth.  We can’t take ourselves out of the comfort zone in a blink of an eye neither it is required.
After reading biographies of many successful people of the world, I've found that lasting personal change does not require you to turn your life upside down. The best way to get to your greatness is through small, continuous steps. Japanese call it Kaizen which means improvement by continuous small steps.  If you get up at 7 am in the morning and start getting up just 2 minutes early everyday and keep on doing this for next 3 months. Guess what? After 3 months you will be getting up at 4 am and if you start investing this time in the mastery of most critical success factors in your work or life- you will definitely be on peak very soon.  Regularity of actions builds momentum.
Consider another example, if you start going for a walk, start with just 500 mtrs and increase it by 500 mtrs every week. After two months you will be walking 5 kms everyday. Result of the things you do on regular basis has the benefit of world’s most powerful force – force of compounding.
Perhaps you can find the best example (yes, the best example) of great success through small, tiny, baby steps is the greatest bollywood movie of all times ‘Shawshank Redeption’
Slow and steady always wins the race, if the direction is right.  So, design a blueprint for your success and then keep walking the small baby steps. Courage has a magic and power in it. Start marching towards realizing your dream career, relationships, health and financial wealth which you deserve so well. But remember; don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A dozen secrets for better Time Management

If you squander your time, you waste your life; as it is the stuff life is made of. – Albert Einstein

Here are a dozen secrets to manage your time/life better:
1. Have Goals: Goals are often the axle around which the wheel of life turns. Without goals there is no motivation to manage time more efficiently. Have SMART goals and write them down. Writing goals brings clarity. It gives you focus and helps utilizing time in the direction of your goals.

2. Prepare Covey Time Management Matrix: Prepare your own Stephen Covey Time Management Matrix and try to eliminate time spent in Q4, minimize Q1 & Q3 and maximize time spent in Q2. All the great people of the world spend time in Q2 which is not urgent but important for long term success.

3. Increase your time awareness: Better awareness leads to better choices and with better choices, you reap better results. Get to know where the time is going? Get aware of every minute of your 24 hours and plan your day. Remember, failing to plan is actually planning to fail; so plan your work and be organized.   

4. Make Time Table: In school/college, we used to study 6 subjects in just 5 hours of time and not only this; we found time for sports / library / internet too. This is the magic of Time Table. Just imagine a college without time table – it won’t really be a college then. Prepare your own time table now which incorporates your job, rest, recreational activities and spending time with your family – and yes, do not contaminate your family time by television. You might not be able to follow this in first time but keep on trying to stick to it until you succeed. It helps. At least schedule few major and more important activities and take them on priority.

5. Prioritize your tasks and learn to say no to time wasters: Most important things should never be sacrificed on the cost least important ones.

6. Utilize bigger chunks of time: 2 to 3 hours in the morning (which people waste in sleeping till late) and 2 to 3 hours every evening (which people waste by being a couch potato and draining the energy to idiot box/TV), 48 hours on weekend. Learn to utilize these big chunks of time in the things which really matter to you most.

7. Use Transition Time: Use transition time like your lunch break, commuting time or waiting time. I would suggest never leave your place without a book in your hand. I have found out that if we use smaller chunks of time (waiting time); we can read 25 pages every day which equals to 750 pages a month and this means 36 books (considering 250 pages in each book) in a year with no extra time. I know a friend, he listens a dozen audio books every month while commuting in his car.

8. Use aides: Use tools like post-it notes, to do lists, calendar, diary, reminders etc. Start using ‘Things to do’ lists and ‘Things not to do lists’ as well. Not doing unproductive things is equally important as doing productive things.  

9. Wake up early: You can get 7 hours extra a week by getting up one hour early every morning. Believe me this one hour can be very productive and has potential to become most supportive habit to realize your dreams. In this extra quiet hour you can plan your day, go for jogging or read something motivational. Reading great books in the morning gives me hope of better life and enthusiasm to my actions.

10.    Be Punctual: ‘Punctuality is the politeness of kings’, said the king of France. Being punctual alone will develop your reputation as intelligent, dependable, valuable, reliable, hard working and mature person while not being punctual will do exactly opposite for you. If you are punctual then you get habitual for completing things on time and this will make you effective and efficient in Time Manager.

11.    Learn to say NO: Say no to every activity which does not help you in reaching to your goal. Please do not get me wrong, refueling is must. You must do recreational things which boost your vigor and improve performance.

12.    Review: Never take anything for granted. Once you decide to become a great time manager, do some mid-term reviews to find if you are on track? If you are off track, immediately get back and get going. Review and evaluate yourself on all the above discussed points.

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