Friday, July 8, 2011

20% off - Did you take it yet?

No, I am not selling anything, but just asking you - Did you take your 20% time off of your hectic schedules to rejuvenate yourself? 

I came across the concept of "80/20 Innovative time off" which is employed in Google Inc. Now, first thing first, they are GOOGLE, they have loads of creative people, who have to work within the limits of competitiveness. They cannot be like the modern artists, whose works are sometimes beyond the reach of smaller people (like me).Their creativity has to sell to the mass public. So, how can you keep them motivated to get the best out of them, while not pushing them towards a situation similar to "writer's block"?
Answer is simple - Just let them do what they like, approximately for about 20% time of their work life. I specify "work life" here because weekends are not included in "work life". Yes, with the weekends you actually get somewhere closer to 30% time off, but then thats not helping the company anyways. Taking time off from office is not equal to honing your creativity. Weekends are meant for de-stressing, relaxing, unwinding, attending to family, friends, relatives etc. and not to think about work.

Majority of the companies will not do that, I know. Their reasons will vary from - How can we then meet deadlines?, The employees are not getting paid to do what they like!, Are you nuts? 20% is almost a day, we do not have time to waste a day, silly!!! etc. etc. But then who is asking them to do what they like? Still, since I am not working in Google, I would like to think of something that might work.
1. How about meeting once in a fortnight to discuss if anything can be changed from whatever was done in the fortnight? This might just take an hour but still, I am sure will help in a long way.

2. People across the company keep attending seminars, conferences etc... how many times have they shared whatever they learnt there? (you might take notes from those kinds of seminars or you might take pride that you are far ahead, but it will be good in both ways!)

I know that there can be many more such simple things that, when made a habit can really take you places. While they are not what I would call the 80/20 Innovative Time Off, but the results could be similar.

That was the organization level, but how can you apply this in your life? We are all running, running and running madly to satisfy the personal and professional goals, while trying to catch up with health, wealth, society. Not everyone can do that successfully, hence what they leave out from their life is - their passion! Now, if you are reading this blog in your early or mid 20s and thinking, no, I do not connect with what the author is saying, I am telling you, if you can keep up the same attention to your interests and passions after 10-15 years, you are incredible, but you cannot really predict that today right?

In a typically active weekday, my 9 hours are in office, the morning time is no good to me other than just rushing up to office, so when I come back home in the evening, I have approximately 5 6 hours left, which I have to juggle between cooking, relaxing, talking to family. I missed out doing what I used to like most - blogging and photography. And then, came a time when I read about this 20% off concept and I thought, I NEED IT! My 20% off means an hour in the evening (sadly that much only!) But, damn it works wonders. This one hour is when I cut off from the remaining world and live in my own. I read articles, plan my blogs (not that I am very active, but now it is better than ever before!), read a lot about photography or work on my photos..just do what I like, if it means on some days, to do nothing but just simply sit. Do you do that? If not, try it! Yes, there will be phases in life when even that much will be too much to ask for, but those phases will be like passing clouds... I do not think this is applicable to only office-goers, but even to homemakers. While we think homemakers have more time in hands to dispense, sometimes it is not so! Even if you do not go to office, you still have the rights to claim your 20% off! This is to do anything, which is not your daily chore or responsibilities!

Just one hour is all you need, this is when you are your employer and your employee! Some one argued with me that it would be selfish to think about your own interests especially when you got married or have a new born in your lap, but on a serious note, if taking an hour off in a day for yourself looks like an indulgence to you, I pity you!

PS - I do not really know how many of us take time to do things we like, but I have really seen my friends who after moving to different phases of life like being a wife or a mother, have actually become robots, mechanical people. Like in mentioned in my previous post, make the most of your life, when you have the energy to do so! Once again, thanks a lot dear Google, you have given me one more good thing, other than Google search, Google maps and Gmail!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Management Lessons from Life!

Did you ever ask god - please god give me just 2 hours more in a day.. 24 hours are not just enough for me??? ( I did so recently and if you have never done that, there is no point in reading this post!)

I started thinking over it, why are these 24 hours not enough for me?? And I got the answer - ineffective usage of time (or read - no time management). Immediately, I opened my sticky note app in my phone and made a time table for myself, for an entire week. I added reminders in the phone to tell me what I should be doing at every 3rd hour of the day! I went to sleep, looking forward to start my "organized life" with the cracking of dawn the next day.

My to do list - do yoga (anytime thats best for that day), get ready, go to office, come back home, clean the utensils, make fresh dinner, spend some time socializing, talk to mom and dad, fix breakfast and dress for tomorrow, sleep. Believe me, 24 hours is just about perfect for that. Most of the people I know work along similar lines. 

Was I successful in doing that??? NOI was never able to do that!
Sticking to plans which I made for myself were also not easy for me (huh!).
I tried the first day, I failed! Nevertheless (old habits die hard...), I tried again the second day, I failed! Third attempt - I fail to begin the day as I planned, but somethings fell in place.
Fourth, fifth and so on.. same old story repeats every time!
There wasn't much change from what I was doing earlier to what I was doing now (or the only difference was - I was more depressed than ever!) 

Come next Monday and I go to my yoga class and 2 things which my yoga teacher said, stuck a chord with me - 1. "Respect your limits" 2. "You cannot do everything everyday".
And I questioned myself - did I not respect my limits ? (I did, I din't make a stringent plan for myself!)
and what I want to do is what I have to do every day, how can I skip anything there?

I thought for this again! There had to be an answer to this. And yes, there was. I worried about ineffective time management while ignoring the more important factor of life - Energy Management!

Time and Energy are not mutually exclusive! Every single day of your life, you have 24 hours, but do you have the same energy levels everyday? Forget everyday, you don't even have same energy levels all through the same day. Then how can you do everything everyday? Did you just not cross your limits?

So what am I getting at??? I am simply pointing out the obvious fact - human body is not equal to a clock. period. (while some great people have trained their bodies to be like that, mediocre people like me have not been able to do so yet!)

I have realized that there are special magical hours in a day for me, everyday, when I achieve far more successful completion of my daily goals than all the rest of the hours put together (while the clock was ticking at the same rate!). My energy levels are far greater than any other time of the day. I have made my peace with it - there are time periods in a day, when I am simply good-for-nothing! I cannot start or finish anything! Then why should I include them in my time tables? This a dangerous mode because when I have not yet finished what I wanted to do in the previous hour, how can I just stop that and proceed with what I wanted to do in the current hour? And there it goes - the avalanche of missed time points rolling down!

So what are the steps in getting goals completed daily? Firstly, Realize what are the most active time zones of the day and plan your work (professional or personal) accordingly. I am talking for those who have almost fixed schedule daily. There is no second step.

A lot can be talked about and thought about effective energy management and I would definitely write up more on that as and when I can. But for now, channelizing work through the active time periods is doing wonders for me and I hope every one can make a note of it.

PS -- If this is a topic which is like basic principles of management classes, pardon my ignorance, for I have learnt this from my own experiences and not the management classes. All I know is it works.