Mush Talks #11: ‘Three Benefits of Waking up Earlier’ by Mush Panjwani

I could script these talks, do a few rehearsals, record professionally with mics and lights, edit better, put music and effects and titles and captions… but then I wouldn’t be able to do one a week. I hope these zero-cost productions are still good enough to inspire some.

You may watch Mush Talks #1-10 here. And please feel free to leave comments below 🙂

Mush’s Lessons from the Himalayas: The joys of disconnecting (being offline)!

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My two weeks in Nepal were full of inspiration, with some important lessons learnt and many beliefs reinforced. Through this series of blog posts, I am sharing some of those thoughts and hoping to inspire some of my readers.

There are many things that we take for granted in life. When you are up in the mountains or in villages, a network on your phone is a privilege and Internet access a luxury. Imagine waking up in the morning completely offline, with no emails, messages or FB to check. And going through the day, using just the camera function on your phone. Once I accepted the reality, I began to see the beauty of the situation and the many benefits of disconnecting, unplugging and being offline:

  • Connection. I was better connected to everything and everyone around me. I was able to better appreciate the beauty of the nature; I was more aware of the presence of other human beings and the opportunity to talk to them, listen to them and learn from them.
  • Inner voice. By ceasing the flow of information and news, and other people’s opinions and updates, I was more in tune with my inner voice. I became more aware of my own thoughts and feelings. I even found solutions to some of my problems, within myself, due to the clarity and focus.
  • Mono-tasking. The increasingly unusual state of doing just one thing at a time. I was reminded of the pleasures in simple things when done with mindfulness – a sip of coffee, a hot shower, breathing with awareness, a bite of wholesome food, an eye contact, a smile, listening to someone with 100% attention!

I was still connecting to the Internet for an hour or so almost every evening after the trek. I was posting photos to Facebook, blogging my daily diary, and even uploading my daily 2-minute videos to YouTube whenever the connection was ‘good’. And I found that even my connected time was so much more productive and efficient due to the focus, and the awareness that I only had an hour or two to get everything done.

Since getting back from the trip, I have incorporated some of these ideas, yet again, into my life. I have switched off many ‘push’ notifications on my phone, so I can better control the flow of information. I have again started doing emails in blocks of an hour, 2-3 times a day. I have again limited my social media time to the bare minimum, and only twice a day. I have again started switching off my phone after 7pm. It’s only been a week, but it’s working out so well then I’m unlikely to go back to the old habits.

What do you think about disconnecting, unplugging and going offline for scheduled periods of time every day? How will that affect your productivity at work and the quality of your time with yourself, friends and family?

Please also check out Dinchack Facebook page for daily inspiration.

Make 2014 a Dinchack (Fantastic) Year!

Dinchack Season's Greetings2

For many of us, New Year is a time to make some resolutions and commit to bring positive changes in our lives. See if you would like to include any of the following to your goals and to-do lists for 2014:

1. Learn to be happy! Happiness is the foundation for all success and achievements. Happier people are more productive at work, better at relationships, healthier and have more energy. Practice the happiness principles daily:

  • Be grateful. Acknowledge the good things in your life. Being alive, having the comforts, doing a job, having a family… are not things to be taken for granted, but to be thankful for.
  • Accept what you can’t change. Don’t get angry, frustrated or disappointed at things that are beyond your control: The weather, traffic, the colour of your skin, your height, your past, other people’s thoughts and actions…
  • Make others happy. Compliment more. Acknowledge when someone does something well. Be kind and helpful. Help someone solve their problem. Give your time.
  • Find out what makes you happy and do that. Whether it’s nature walk, some form of exercise, volunteering, learning something new… Change your job if you have to.

2. Become more productive! Do the right things, do them well, on time and with ease. That may seem too ambitious but here are some of the ways to achieve that:

  • Prioritize. Do less to get more done. Ask yourself whether you can drop it, delay it or delegate it, before you do it! Distinguish between important and urgent. Develop the habit of ‘first things first’. Do what matters most first.
  • Simplify. Unclutter. Get rid of useless stuff that just occupies space – in your office, on your desk, at home, your wardrobe, book shelf, even the desktop of your computer and the number of apps on your phone. Don’t accumulate excess in the first place, and keep cleaning. When you buy something new, give away the old one. Go paperless!
  • Cut your Facebook time. And other social media time. And emails. Do them in batches instead of 24/7. Switch off the push notifications.
  • Sleep less. Waking up an hour earlier in the morning can be the single most critical change you can make, adding significantly to your productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. Use this time to exercise, plan, read, learn… no more ‘I don’t have the time’ excuse!

Do you have any additional tips for the two lists above? This is part 1 of a series. Can you guess what’s coming up next?

For daily inspiration and resources on happiness, motivation and success, please also see Dinchack on Facebook.

My top five productivity apps!

IMG_0482 IMG_0483 IMG_0484 IMG_0485 IMG_0486During the last six months, I have tried more apps than in the last few years, to increase productivity and efficiency in managing my business. Most of them were just average, few are dinchack (wow!) and some have become indispensable. If you are looking for useful productivity apps for your iOS devices, you might like to try these:

  1. Evernote: This app lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders and makes these notes accessible on all computers and devices. I use it to take meeting notes, capture ideas, maintain time logs for client consultation, and even keep all the dreams, goals and plans in one place.
  2. Receipts: This is a great app to track your personal and business income/expenses. It allows you to create different accounts, categories, fields and capture photos of receipts to be attached with each expense. Income and expenses can be entered in any currency and instantly converted to your home currency. And finally, you can export reports as Excel or PDF.
  3. SignNow: How do you send invoices to clients? Create the invoice, print, sign, scan, email? With SignNow, you can just upload the PDF, drag your digital signature, save and email – totally paperless! You can also sign any documents using your finger. Works well on all devices!
  4. Feedly: This is an RSS reader that aggregates all your favourite websites, blogs, YouTube channels and more for easy and fast browsing, reading and sharing from any device. It actually makes reading on handheld devices more fun.
  5. 1Password: Probably the best app to keep all passwords in one place – plus logins, memberships, bank accounts, credit cards, IDs, secure notes. You can also generate strong passwords, and keep them in sync across all devices.

Please let me know about your favourite productivity apps through comments.

How Do You Score on Your Time Management?

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Answer these simple questions and find out:

  1. Do you usually have time for the essential stuff like reading/learning, exercising, socialising, relationships, holidays?
  2. Do you usually get things done on time – including getting to appointments on time, whether at home or at work?
  3. Do you usually have written goals and plans to achieve them?
  4. Are your tasks usually connected to your goals and plans?
  5. Do you usually have a written list of priorities for the month or the week?
  6. Do you usually differentiate easily between urgent and important? And spend more time on important stuff?
  7. Do you usually focus on one thing at a time, clearing away all distractions?
  8. Do you usually differentiate between efficiency and effectiveness – doing things right, and doing the right things?
  9. Do you usually get a lot of stuff done through delegation?
  10. Do you often say ‘no’ to things when your schedule is already full?

The more yeses you have, the greater is your time management, and the better your quality of life! And what if your time management isn’t so great? Firstly acknowledge. Then understand that it’s a skill that anyone can learn, like driving or cooking or languages. And like any other skill, you can learn time management from books, courses, workshops… as long as you start applying the principles that you learn. Time management is a skill that you live with, so you need to make the necessary changes to your habits and behaviours.

Get a better understanding of some tested and proven time management strategies, and some practical tips, at my upcoming class at General Assembly in Hong Kong on Tuesday 8th October. Registration and details here.

[Photo at Interlaken in China – a recent short holiday]

Bonus time

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“Bonus time” is an interesting concept that keeps me happy when I am supposed to be angry, frustrated or disappointed.

If my flight is delayed by an hour, I consider it the ‘bonus time’ I’ve been granted. Full 60 minutes of no plans, no commitments, no schedules! I can do whatever I like – read, work, think, relax, eat, take photos, call family, or just sit and do nothing for a change. Of course, I have the alternative to get angry at the airline; demand explanations; get upset about the delay; think of the rest of the things that would all be delayed by an hour… but none of that is going to help. Next time you have a delay or a wait, try to think of it as a gift of ‘bonus time’ e.g.

  • You have an appointment with a dentist, or with anyone else, but are asked to wait for half an hour when you arrive.
  • It takes you longer than planned on the road, due to traffic.
  • You queue up somewhere and it seems to take forever.

In each of these situations, you have a choice to get upset or consider the waiting time as ‘bonus time’ in which you can do something positive, productive and unplanned – like making that call to someone special or catching up on the news or thinking some good thoughts or just conscious breathing. Will you try?

[Photo taken during a road trip in Yogyakarta last week]