3 rules for guilt-free shopping, and an uncluttered life

In an earlier post, less stuff = more happiness, I shared how and why I started simplifying my life, five years ago, by reducing my possessions. Once I had done that, the challenge was to keep it that way and ensure that the old habits don’t creep back in.

My short shopping spree today made me realize how religiously I follow certain rules that have allowed me to keep my possessions to the minimum and continue to have a clutter-free life. These rules can be summarized as three simple strategies that anyone can follow. Simple, but not easy…

  1. Shop Mindfully:
    • Only buy what you need – really need. If it’s a temporary need, see if can be borrowed or rented.
    • Go with a shopping list and stay focused. Don’t be distracted by displays or special offers.
    • Don’t buy anything ‘just in case’ you might need it. Trust that you’ll find it ‘just in time’.
    • Always buy quality. It lasts longer, so costs less in the long run.
    • Don’t compromise on the style, size or color, otherwise you may be discarding it too soon. Continue reading

6 ways to refuel your energy every day

Some very simple and useful tips by Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything, from Harvard Business Review:

Human beings aren’t meant to operate like computers — at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. We’re designed to be rhythmic, and to intermittently renew. Here are the six strategies we’ve found work best:

1. Make sufficient sleep your highest priority: 
Far too many of us buy into the myth that one hour less of sleep allows us one more of productivity. In fact, even very small amounts of sleep deprivation significantly undermine capacity for focus, analytic thinking and creativity. The research is clear: more than 95 per cent of us require 7-8 hours of sleep in order to be fully rested, and for our brains to optimally embed new learning. Great performers, ranging from musicians to athletes, often get even more than 8 hours. [Related post]

2. Take a renewal break at least every ninety minutes: It’s now how long you work that determines the value you produce, but rather the energy you bring to whatever hours you work.The first key is to intermittently quiet your physiology. You can dramatically lower your heart rate, your blood pressure and your muscle tension in as little as 30-60 seconds with regular practice. With your eyes closed, try breathing in through your nose to a count of three, and out through your mouth slowly to a count of six. In this way, you’re extending your recovery. As your body quiets down, your thinking mind will also get quieter and you’ll feel more relaxed.

3. Keep a running list of everything
 that you want or need to do: The more fully and frequently you download what’s on your mind, the less energy you’ll squander in fruitless thinking about undone tasks, and the more energy you’ll have to be fully present in whatever you’re doing. Continue reading

[A year ago on Mush’s blog] Keeping promises

[Here’s the original post a year ago on this blog]

This post is inspired by someone I met today in Colombo. When he decided to move back to Sri Lanka from the Middle East 15 years ago, his wife wasn’t too happy with the decision. She loved Dubai too much. This man promised his wife that he’ll bring her to Dubai for at least ten days every year. And he hasn’t missed a year since. He told me it was difficult at times to take the ten days off because of work pressure, or other priorities, ‘but a promise is a promise’.

How often do we sabotage our relationships, health, productivity, talent, dreams… by not fulfilling the commitments that we make to ourselves or others. Whether big or small, every broken promise adds up to create an unhappy situation. Some of the most commonly broken promises I can think of:

  • To our loved ones: I’ll call you back in a minute. I’ll do it during the weekend. I’ll be there for the… (birthday party or the game or the parent-teacher meeting). We’ll take a vacation this year.
  • To our kids: We’ll read it tonight. Yes, I’ll help with your math. I’ll fix it tomorrow. We’ll go there during the weekend.
  • At work: I am working on it. I’ll email you today. I’ll clean up my desk. I’ll call you back. I’ll learn the new… (skill, system, program, equipment) soon.
  • To ourselves: I’ll start exercising. I’ll read that book. I’ll eat healthy. I’m off desserts. I quit coffee. I’ll wake up earlier. I’ll clean up. I’ll volunteer. I’ll start saving.

And I am as guilty as anybody else. What about you? Let’s promise to keep our promises!

[Photo during a take-off from Hong Kong last week – totally unrelated to the topic, of course]

Read more about self motivation in my new book: Dhinchak Life

Too much work? Do less, not more.

Four simple principles of productivity from CNN today by Laura Stack. Laura Stack is president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., and the author of What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do and four other books, including Leave the Office Earlier.

“These days, it’s seems like we are all expected to do more with less. Spending hours in the office to make sure all the assigned tasks get done bleeds into our family time, and even at home, it seems there’s a never-ending cycle of things that must be done.

Yet studies have shown that 60-hour workweeks can result in a 25% decrease in productivity. The productivity numbers get worse as the work hours increase, because exhaustion steadily erodes judgment and performance.

So what to do when there’s too much to do? The key is to do less, not more (what, you’ve never heard a time management expert tell you the key to success is to do less?).

Just say no: First, say “no” to more work. Though this might sound obvious, it’s one of the hardest things to actually do. But being realistic about the amount of additional work you can take on is as important as getting the job done. A simple, “Sorry — I’d love to help out, but I don’t have the bandwidth to take that on right now,” is sufficient.

Negotiate: When that fails, negotiate. If your boss presents you with a project you can’t outright refuse, but your plate is undeniably full, don’t hesitate to point this out. Openly discuss your current deadlines and workload, and communicate both honestly and clearly. For example, you might say, “I’m currently working on X, Y, and Z. I want to return quality work in a timely way, and if I take on this new project, it will jeopardize my promised deadlines. Would you like me to hand it off to someone else, outsource it, or would you prefer to reprioritize my existing commitments?”

Prioritize: Focus on strategic enablers of business. Everyone has too much to do, and nobody really cares how many tasks you crossed off a to-do list if key projects keep falling through the cracks. Split your to-do lists into a Master list and a High Impact Task (HIT) list.

While the Master lists tracks everything that needs to get done at some point, the HIT list includes only a reasonable number of items that can be accomplished each day, so you’re constantly focused on key priorities and work on them in the proper order:

P1: You will get fired if this isn’t done today.

P2: A valuable long-term activity that should be done soon.

P3: Someone will be unhappy if this isn’t done eventually.

P4: Human “pain-management” activities such as socializing or Facebook.

Focus: Master the skills of concentration. Stop multitasking and focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking just dilutes your attention and fools you into thinking you’re productive, when you’re really just busy.

Don’t allow people to hold distracting conversations outside your cubicle or office door either. Limit your social media usage, and anything else that can keep you from accomplishing your most important tasks.

When you find ways to do less while increasing your impact, you’ll gain more time to spend on things you actually enjoy.”

Mush’s comments: Increased productivity at work means more time with family and with yourself to do the other things you are passionate about. My own tips on productivity aren’t too different from the above.

[Photo of Cheng Chau Island, another beautiful hike during the weekend]

Read more about productivity in my new book: Dhinchak Life

Free ebook: 47 Tips for Enhancing Life

Today (April 12) I turn 47 years old. It amazes me that I’ve been around that long. I feel like I’ve barely begun. As always, it’s an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve achieved, what I’ve learnt, and where do I want to be in five or ten years from now.

Through this photo book, I am sharing 47 tips on happiness, health, relationships and productivity – all of which can enhance life. The photos used in the book are from my personal collection. You can download the book by clicking on the book cover, or from this link. If you find this useful, please share with others too. I will consider that your birthday gift to me.

The best tips on productivity, motivation and dealing with depression

I recently had the privilege of connecting and interacting with one of the happiest and most successful people I’ve ever known. He started as a salesman and built one of the biggest direct sales companies in the region. I always admired how he found time for leisure and everything else that he enjoyed doing, even during the busiest times of his business. He retired early and rich, while the company runs on the systems he had built. In the following note, he shared with me his thoughts on motivation, productivity and dealing with depression:

Books: Two books that helped me greatly are:

  1. How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne
  2. The Happiness Purpose by Edward De Bono

And my favorite now for ageless wisdom is The Portable Thoreau edited Carl Bode.

Work Habits: 

  • Keep a ‘time diary’ for 10-30 days. Log everything you do from wake-up to sleep – every phone call, every meeting, every cup of coffee. Review and you will find there is much wasted and unproductive time, which could be spent constructively on work or quality leisure. Make the adjustments.
  • Do jobs IMMEDIATELY and FINISH them.

By doing these two things I accomplished the same in one third of the time than most people! Now I am stress-free and have lots of leisure. Continue reading

Less stuff = more happiness

I’ve lived with this mantra for over five years now, so I was obviously very interested to watch Graham Hill’s talk on TED with that title. He has summarized the benefits very well, but he doesn’t tell us what did he do with all his collections, possessions and stuff. Here’s my story and tips:

When I started the process of reducing my possessions and simplifying my life, I started with the biggest chunk – my collection of books. I realized I wasn’t going to re-read most of them. My hope that my kids would read them all one day wasn’t realistic because they don’t have the same interests as mine. So I gave them all away to friends or charity. I also got rid of the book shelf, so that the books I continue to buy must be given away soon after I finish reading them. Since the iPad, I only buy digital books. They are cheaper, easy to store/backup and environment friendly. You can increase the font size and brightness; you can highlight passages; you can call up a dictionary by just touching the word. And if you really miss the touch and feel and smell of real books, you can visit the book store once a while and get all that for free. I have also tried audio books, and they have their benefits too.

Then I was able to simplify my entire wardrobe to fit into ten hangers and one drawer – plus a small suitcase with winter stuff on one side and special occasion stuff on the other. I took most of the unnecessary clutter out of my life – excessive suits, shoes, belts, ties, watches (I’ve actually stopped wearing a watch), videos, CDs etc. I still need to finish scanning the photos and get rid of the albums. All of this means, I need less space for my possessions and less maintenance time. I can focus on quality instead of quantity/variety. I only buy things that I really need and have space for. If I buy a new shirt, an old shirt has to go.

My travel bag has got smaller and smaller, regardless of the length of the trip, and is now down to a small carry-on, without the additional backpack that used to go with it. I still take all the photos and make all the movies with my pocket Canon Ixus. That means I can pack easily and quickly, travel much lighter and move around easily. I have applied the same principle to my work i.e. office space and desk. It’s all easier said than done, but extremely rewarding and worthwhile. I believe it makes you more productive, more efficient, lighter and happier!

[Photo of my travel bags taken just now in the hotel room. The shoulder bag has the camera, spare battery, spare SD cards, phone, wallet, passport, charger, pens and few other essentials]

7 Reasons Why New Year Resolutions Don’t Work

A new day in Africa! (Sunrise at Hoedspruit, December 2011)

Most of the research suggests that majority of the people do not stick to their resolutions beyond a couple of weeks or months, if at all. And most of the goals established before the New Year end up way short of achievement. Having spent almost 30 years doing resolutions (a few times every year) and working with thousands of salespeople and managers who established annual goals, here’s what I think causes any New Year resolution to fail:

  1. Too casual. Some people come up with resolutions for the sake of resolutions, without giving serious consideration to what they really want.
  2. Not committed enough. Any resolution without total commitment is as good as a dream.
  3. Not specific enough. ‘I’ll lose weight’, ‘I’ll save money’, ‘I’ll travel’ are all examples of non-specific resolutions.
  4. No deadlines. Open-ended resolutions like ‘I’ll quit smoking’ are like any other promise without a time frame that we can easily postpone.
  5. No planning. A resolution without a plan is like a destination without a road map – without knowing how to get there.
  6. No follow-up. Milestones and checkpoints are critical in any journey. Resolutions that are not reviewed periodically often come to haunt us at the end of the year.
  7. No action. You know where you want to go, and how to get there, but you can’t there unless you start moving. Lack of action, laziness, and procrastination are often signs of lack of commitment.

If your resolutions haven’t worked well for you in the past, it’s likely because of one of the above reasons. This year, come up with fewer resolutions but make sure they are very specific, backed up with a full plan of action and have your total commitment. Then take the necessary action with perseverance, and review results often. In short, you need to know what you really want, by when and how… then act now!

Related reading:

Two main reasons we procrastinate…

I had been putting off writing this piece for two days. Procrastination is a very strange phenomenon. We know something must be done now, but we delay it. It can be a phone call to mom, an email to a customer, a report to the boss, getting up on time, making an important decision, ending a bad habit, starting a good one, saying some nice words, apologizing for a mistake, it can be small tasks or big projects… but we often delay it despite expecting to be worse off due to the delay. We know that procrastination can cost us money, health, relationships, productivity or social disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments… but we procrastinate. Procrastination is not always inaction. Very often, we get busy with less important or less urgent tasks to avoid the high-priority actions. Few reasons why we procrastinate, and some ideas on what to do about it:

  1. Lack of passion. Sometimes the important and urgent task is too boring. I can’t get passionate about sorting through the physical mail, paying the bills (though online), filing the receipts and so on. So here’s what I did. Firstly, I scheduled this task for Sunday mornings, so the pile of envelopes doesn’t bother me all week. Secondly, I systematically unsubscribed from many mailing lists. That required some time over the phone and some emails, but it was worthwhile. I also put as many bills as possible on auto-pay. Now I have a much smaller pile to deal with every Sunday morning. The idea is to get rid of, or minimize the unpleasant tasks in your life. Sometimes you can trade boring tasks with colleagues or members of the family. I’ll do your Powerpoint presentation; you do my Excel report. I’ll edit the photos; you do the filing. At home, I take care of all IT stuff; Salma looks after mechanical issues. I am responsible for all issues with schools and education; she looks after all the shopping and food. I do the paper work; she checks credit card statements…and so on.
  2. Lack of skill. Very often, we put things off because we are not good at them, or we just don’t know how to do them. The obvious way to deal with this is to learn. I knew somebody who dreaded the monthly reports because she wasn’t good at Excel. She used to make mistakes and feel stressed. So obviously, she would put it off until the very last minute, which would make it even worse. Until one day, she figured she had to learn it and get good at it. Once the stress of making mistakes and the fear of failure was gone, the task wasn’t as dreadful and the procrastination was also gone. Why do you think most salespeople procrastinate calling up the upset customer, or delay in resolving any conflicts, or put off the diet plan – because they are not good at these things and there’s a fear of failure.

Happy to add a very useful guide on beating procrastination by a fellow blogger. It’s very detailed, comprehensive and full of useful tips.

[A recent photo of sunset through a window – one of those things that can’t wait.]

The power of commitment

“When you are interested, you do what’s convenient. When you are committed, you do whatever it takes.” 

This post is inspired by someone I met today in Colombo. When he decided to move back to Sri Lanka from the Middle East 15 years ago, his wife wasn’t too happy with the decision. She loved Dubai too much. This man promised his wife that he’ll bring her to Dubai for at least ten days every year. And he hasn’t missed a year since. He told me it was difficult at times to take the ten days off because of work pressure, or other priorities, ‘but a promise is a promise’. 

How often do we sabotage our relationships, health, productivity, talent, dreams… by not fulfilling the commitments that we make to ourselves or others. Whether big or small, every broken promise adds up to create an unhappy situation. Some of the most commonly broken promises I can think of:

  • To our loved ones: I’ll call you back in a minute. I’ll do it during the weekend. I’ll be there for the… (birthday party or the game or the parent-teacher meeting). We’ll take a vacation this year.
  • To our kids: We’ll read it tonight. Yes, I’ll help with your math. I’ll fix it tomorrow. We’ll go there during the weekend.
  • At work: I am working on it. I’ll email you today. I’ll clean up my desk. I’ll call you back. I’ll learn the new… (skill, system, program, equipment) soon.
  • To ourselves: I’ll start exercising. I’ll read that book. I’ll eat healthy. I’m off desserts. I quit coffee. I’ll wake up earlier. I’ll clean up. I’ll volunteer. I’ll start saving.

And I am as guilty as anybody else. Let’s promise to keep our promises. And commit to fulfill our commitments.

[Photo of Fauja Singh, the 100-year old runner. See the story here]

Check out Mush’s photosvideos and Facebook page

Five benefits of waking up earlier…

Morning Calm

[A re-post from June 2009] Most people seem to start their day in a rush – rushing to get ready, rushing with the breakfast, rushing to work. These people often spend their entire day in a rush, playing catch-up with the rest of the world. This can be easily avoided by getting up a little earlier. There are many other benefits of getting up early, but I will list the five that have always worked for me:

  1. Gratefulness. It’s difficult to be grateful for the moment when you are getting late for work. But if you don’t have to rush, you can enjoy every moment. And be grateful for being alive today, for the health you have, for the comforts of your home, for the family you have, for the food you eat, for the work you do…
  2. Bonus Hour. Most of us complain of not having enough time for the things we want to do e.g. exercise, reading, or pursuing other interests and ambitions like learning a language, writing a book, starting a blog. The easiest way to achieve these is by giving yourself 30 minutes or an hour of bonus time in the morning.
  3. Quiet Time. There’s something special about the calm of the morning – no sounds from TV, kids, phones or traffic. There’s also less clutter in your mind which allows you to think and concentrate better. Any brain work that takes hours during the day can sometimes be achieved in half the time if done early morning.
  4. Beat the Rush. Your commute time will cut down if you leave home before the rush hour. You’ll spend less time queuing up for elevators. You’ll have to get used to the emptiness – at the gym or pool, on the road, in the train, at the office… everywhere.
  5. Get Ahead. Getting to work half an hour before everybody else gives you time to plan, prioritize and organize. Less distractions of the phone, email and people can allow you to focus better on the most important tasks of the day. You get more done, and leave on time, again beating the rush hour.

Even if you work from home, there’s plenty of reason to start the day before everyone else does. And if you are a housewife, who usually spends the day taking care of others, this could be your time, to do the things just for yourself! Please share your comments and tips.

[Check out Mush’s photos, videos and Facebook page]

Virtuous until proven otherwise

Richard Stengel writes in Mandela’s Way, the biography of Nelson Mandela:

“Some call it a blind spot, other naivete, but Mandela sees almost everyone as virtuous until proven otherwise. He starts with an assumption that you are dealing with him in good faith. He believes that, just as pretending to be brave can lead to acts of real bravery, seeing the good in other people improves the chances that they will reveal their better selves.”

My humble additions:

  • People are mostly good, honest and helpful – regardless of their origin, religion or race.
  • There’s some good and bad in every person, place and situation. We can choose to focus on the good or the bad.
  • We don’t have to smile only when we are happy. Smiling makes us happy.
  • We don’t have to wait for motivation before we act. Action brings motivation.
  • We don’t have to see evidence/results before we believe. Belief produces results.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts through comments.

[Photo of a friend, tour guide, driver and mentor-for-the-day in Rotorua NZ. More photos here.]

Clutter is Procrastination

An excellent post by Leo in Mnmlist.com – one of my favorite blogs:

When our houses or offices get piled with clutter, much of the reason is procrastination.

We all procrastinate — let’s just get that out in the open. There’s not a one of us who doesn’t, to some degree. But while our tasks and projects can pile up, giving us some anxiety, the clutter is a visual sign of that procrastination, and carries with it just as much anxiety.

When we put down an object, a piece of paper, an article of clothing, a stack of mail … and we leave it there, undealt with, saying that we’ll put it away or deal with it later … that’s procrastination.

Unfortunately, this piles up, accumulates over time, and then we’re stuck with a mountain of clutter that’s too overwhelming to deal with. You’ll need to deal with that mountain. I’ve shown you some methods. Get it down to minimal, and enjoy that.

But once you’ve dealt with the mountain, you need to stop it from happening again. That’s where beating your procrastination habits becomes so important. When you’re going to put something down, deal with it right now. It only takes a few seconds.

How long does it take to put dirty clothes in the hamper, or hang up a shirt that’s still clean? Like 15 seconds. How long does it take to sort through some mail, opening the envelopes right there, setting aside a few bills to be paid, filing a couple things, tossing the rest? Three minutes. How long does it take to put a book or magazine away? To put a piece of paper in the right file, or toss it? Seconds.

When you deal with things in tiny little bits like this, before they build up, it’s easy. Deal with them while they’re easy so you don’t have to deal with them when they’re hard.

Also read: 7 Tips For a Clean Desk and 4 D’s of Time Management

See Mush’s Page on Facebook

Free ebook: Focus – a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction

I just finished reading this wonderful book by Leo Babauta. It’s an important reminder of the importance of focus in this age of distraction, and how to achieve it. The book is available for free and is ‘un-copyrighted’ by the author so you can share it with as many people as you want. Just click on the image to download the PDF version.

It’s an essential guide for everyone who needs to focus, and covers lots of useful stuff like:

  • the importance of finding focus
  • the beauty of disconnection
  • how not to live in your inbox
  • creating an uncluttered environment
  • strategies for prioritizing
  • systems for getting amazing things done
  • single-tasking and productivity

Download it now.

Happiness, Health and Productivity – best of 2010

Here’s a collection of links to some of the most popular posts on my blog during the last 12 months. I hope you find them useful and consider sharing with friends. These may have some ideas for your New Year Resolutions too:

On Happiness:

On Health and Nutrition:

On Productivity:

Please let me know which ones did you find most useful.

[Photo taken during a hike in Rotorua, NZ – Nov. 2010]

5 things everyone can learn from the Aussies

Having spent ten days in Australia, I was reminded of the many good things about the Aussies:

  1. Good day, mate! It’s the local greeting but also an attitude of happiness and friendliness. You can only greet each other with enthusiasm if you are really happy and grateful with your life. Otherwise, it will be the usual ‘how are you?’ and ‘not bad’. That attitude is also reflected in their choice of vocabulary. It’s not ‘nice’, it’s ‘fantastic!’ or ‘awesome!’ Simply put, ‘life is good!’
  2. Work to live. Most Aussies don’t live to work. A standard working day for most offices is 8-4:30 and 9:30-5:30 for most shops. This means more time for life outside of work – family, socializing, sports and hobbies. Yes, many Australians actually have hobbies like gardening, woodworking etc. Do they get less work done compared to those who regularly work overtime in many other countries? I don’t think so.
  3. Sunday is family day. Unlike many of us, most Aussies actually have a ‘plan’ for Sundays. And the key elements of the plan are family and outdoors – beach, picnics, parks, hikes. That’s not only great bonding time for the family, but also very healthy.
  4. No worries, mate! That’s also more of an attitude than just another local phrase you hear often. Aussies seem to genuinely believe that no problem is big enough to worry; given some time, most situations sort themselves out; getting stressed doesn’t make things easier. I wonder if they have one of the lowest rates of stress-related illnesses in the world.
  5. Play to win. Aussies are clearly one of the most competitive people, and it’s not just in sports. I think they generally like to excel at whatever they do – be it making a coffee, raising a child or winning an olympic gold. This is also obvious in a higher standard of services.

I am sure some readers will have many negative things to say about the Aussies. Every one of us, every nation, every place has negatives and positives. But I find myself much happier when focusing on the good rather than the bad, particularly when I am traveling. Please share your positive thoughts about your favorite place.

[Photo taken from a boat in Sydney. You can see some more spectacular photos here.]

5 things to do while looking for a job

Version 3

Whether you are starting fresh, have just been set free (fired) or are in between jobs, looking for a new job can be extremely frustrating. Here are some tips to keep you sane, make the most of the time and even increase your chances of landing a job:

  1. Make the best of your time. While most people complain about not having enough time to do everything they want to do, you have all the time in the world. You can waste it by sleeping more, watching more TV, spending more time on the Internet etc. Or you can do more productive things like reading, writing, exercise, travel etc. But the best investment of your time is in learning things that will increase your ‘market value’ e.g. learn a language; teach yourself advanced computer skills; start a blog on something you care about… Wake up at six in the morning and do one or more of these as a “job”.
  2. Stay motivated. You hear about the bad economy, increased competition, unemployment rate, market conditions etc. but you manage to motivate yourself and start sending lots of applications. After a few interviews the ‘facts’ start to sink in and you start getting depressed. You allow your self-esteem and your confidence level to drop. Now you are not as enthusiastic and motivated at interviews; you get some more rejections; you get even more depressed… and the cycle repeats itself. Don’t let that happen. Be prepared for 100 interviews before getting a job, and do your best at every one of them. See each interview as part of the process, as another step towards the destination.
  3. Use all the resources. Remember that somebody somewhere wants to hire someone exactly like you. The more you reach out, the better your chances of connecting with that someone. Find job listings in every newspaper, magazine and website. Talk to headhunters – they are not just for top-level jobs. Connect with everyone you have ever known; social media like Facebook, Linkedin etc. make it easier than ever to find long lost friends and make new ones. Don’t be shy in letting the world know that you are looking for a job.
  4. Volunteer. Whether for a cause that you care about or at a job that interests you, volunteering allows you to keep busy, stay motivated and make new connections with potential employers.
  5. Try direct sales. Most direct selling companies are always hiring people without any relevant experience, regardless of the economic conditions. Good direct selling companies offer free training, excellent products, above-average income potential and regular motivation, and do not require more than 4-6 hours of daily commitment. It’s an excellent way to improve your communication skills, learn how to motivate yourself, make lots of new contacts and even make some money while looking for “the job”.

In summary, get out and get busy; have some daily routine; stay active and in touch with your field; learn new skills; try new things. Any employer will prefer to hire someone who has been busy and active, who has been doing ‘stuff’ while being ‘jobless’. Don’t wait to get lucky; the harder you work, the luckier you will get. Good luck!

The Worst Uses of Your Mobile Phone

I was in a business meeting recently where the other person kept looking at his phone for messages or emails every time it vibrated. He even typed a couple of messages during the hour long meeting while we exchanged important information and discussed a possible business relationship. Do you think I want to do business with this person?

I was reminded of a time when an estate agent was showing me an apartment when his phone rang and he started chatting non-stop. After waiting for about five minutes, I just walked out of the apartment. When he called back to ask what had happened, I told him exactly what had happened and never met him again.

Whether you are in an important business meeting, or having quality time with a loved one, responding to a call or looking at messages/emails only communicates one thing to the other person: You are not as important as the person calling/messaging/emailing me right now. I think these are some of the worst uses of your mobile phone:

  1. Holding it in your hand or placing it in front of you during a business or personal meeting. If you are expecting a call, let the other person know.
  2. Looking at it every now and then, and reading emails/messages during important conversations. If you must read or send an urgent message, please excuse first.
  3. Immersing yourself in your phone when in a social gathering. That only means: Do not disturb, or I am not interested in any conversation.
  4. Talking loudly on your phone in a public place without any consideration for other people. Either talk softly, or move away from the people.
  5. Typing on your phone while walking, and expecting other people to watch and move out of your way. Ever seen a collision of two people typing on their phones without looking up?

It’s funny how we use our mobile phones to connect with everyone in the world, and often forget to connect with all the people around us – often the most important people in our lives that we just take for granted.

Here’s a funny video clip of Jerry Seinfeld talking about the ‘iPhone and Blackberry People’.

    Do You Respond or React?

    In every situation or problem, we have a choice to respond or react. And our choice determines how we get affected by the situation or problem. My favorite example is that of a delayed flight. Most passengers choose to react by asking for an explanation for the delay, calling up family and friends to share the anger (‘why does it always happen to me?‘), demanding to ‘speak with the manager’, expecting free meals, continuing to be angry even after taking off and landing at the destination and perhaps for the rest of the day. If you choose to respond, you could be grateful that they found out the problem with the plane or the pilot or the weather while you are still on the ground, rather than finding out when you are 35,000 feet up in the air. You could catch up on some phone calls or shopping or reading, or simply enjoy doing nothing for a change. If the flight has been indefinitely delayed, you can also respond by trying to find another connection to your destination.

    When someone criticizes you, you can react by offering explanations or starting an argument. Or you can respond by trying to understand the other person’s perspective, by accepting that you aren’t perfect and by being grateful that someone cared enough to tell you about your weakness. Continue reading