Merry Christmas

Wishing you Merry Christmas. I hope you have peace, happiness and abundance in your life and spread the cheer around. 

I will be spending time with family, cooking up lunch and just lounging and you can find behind the scenes here



(Pic courtesy: Soma Bhattacharya via Canva)

Top 3 Books for 2016

If you have been with me reading the blog or checking tweets and watching the occasional pop ups in Instagram, you will know that I read for work and pleasure. This year has seen me get back to it more than the last two years. 

So, if you like to red or looking for a last minute gift idea, you can check out these 3 books which I think have had the most impact on me. 



·    The 193 pg book focuses on the benefits of maintaining a checklist through various industries. 
·      A surgeon from NY, the book The Checklist is not about just to do lists. It’s a brief list that helps critical decision making in sensitive situations like the operating room by saving lives or during investment decisions or in aeronautical situation (mid air crisis).
·        
The reason I liked the book is because:
§  It’s a simple idea that’s so well researched that it makes you think that we should all implement more checklists in our work places and homes to save ourselves from complications.
§  He talks about how the checklist that was created in John Hopkins hospital that raised a possibility that people talking to each other  a minute before starting the operation was a strategy to foster team work which lead to higher success rates. 
§  It made me think that the basics of any project management should be about certain checklist like its focused a lot in Agile with the ceremonies and DOD (definition of done) and exit criteria’s all set to actually ensure that everything is in its place and chances to miss it is reduced thereby ensuring the quality of the potentially shippable product.
§  It’s a book that will make you think and has take away's that you can actually implement in your work. It also provides you with enough case studies that will allow you to make a strong case with the right set of data that you will need to get buy in from your team or management to get the checklists implemented. 

If you need an awakening of your mind and soul, if you want to grow more, need a way to organize your thoughts and dreams, want to be happier....this is what you should be reading. It shook me up literally. ·It’s a must read and will be my staple on the bedside table for the next few month definitely.          

  • 223 pages excluding the glossary and others, this book will help you understand your expectation from life and how to get them. Book talks a lot about the realities that the author faced as he tried to build his own business that thrives successfully now.
  • He gives example from his own life and multitude of other people like Dalai Lama, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Tony Robbins on how they look at success.
  • My favorite in the book is chapter 5- where he talks about the structure that’s split into 8 sets of qualities that we need from life and for me thinking the way he has laid it down was life changing. I really knew the actions I had to take to grow more personally and professionally.
  • This is a book that helps you look inside you, fix it... so you can fulfill your dreams outside.

·         This was an impulsive buy in airport because I was looking to read something while I was on vacation for my son’s 2 birthday this August. I don’t think I have ever thought of sleep so much in my life till I started reading this book. I will be honest, I am not much of a sleeper, I like to stay awake more than I like sleeping. I have in the recent years also been very sleep deprived; I call it the Rio Effect. The book surprised me with the health benefits and the link to better decision making and yes now that I try to sleep more I do see the payback myself.  

  • ·We all know sleeps important, but the author breaks the modern myth of going sleepless and how cool it is especially for youngsters and showing why and how it’s important to achieve our goals.
  • It talks about medications, health issues, and extra cost to government dealing with health crisis that can all be reduced just by sleeping.
  •  It also talks about how from Warren Buffet to Satya Nadella all emphasize about sleeping and its bond to good decision making and the effectiveness and efficiency.
  • If you like informative and well researched book like I do and the topic is something you can relate to- it’s a good read.
For me I can connect the dots of the take away of the 3 books- I think resting the mind to work and function better in a structured way through checklists will make me happier and give me better value for the time invested in doing it. And happiness will ensure I work through my challenges better and have the capacity to fulfill the dreams.

Pic courtesy: Google and Soma Bhattacharya
Some of the links are Amazon affiliate links, you don't pay extra for it but it helps this site run. Thank you.

The Art of Failing

I have failed a lot. That made me afraid of being a failure
.
And there have been quite a few times when I have been called one. I have recently realized that my journey in life have been paved through my failures and because I have failed I am doing what I do now.

 Suddenly I have realized that failure shouldn’t be negative and depressing. It’s part of rethinking and making better decision. 

Like I started this blog when I wasn’t sure what to do career wise, I had a difficult time finding a job and I just wanted a space where I could journal all my learning’s. I honestly never thought anyone other than me would be reading it. I turned the blog into a routine which means I was writing even during my worst of struggles and that kept me sane. It was a positive energy for me when a lot of things weren’t.

If you have read about the Lizard brain, you will know we refrain ourselves from doing things that make us a success. I am not a psychologist, however I can tell you that for me sometimes it’s true. I feel the things I should be doing and then I don’t. I don’t know why. For example, I have been thinking of writing about this for more than a week and I haven’t written. I am not sure why.

 I have been trying to get back to reading and the last few purchases (of books) have been really life changing and I wanted to share it with you. But then I thought, hey why not be more satisfied with my work and try out another medium- vlogs. I would love to bring you in my life and have a face to face conversation once in a while and do I did vlog. It was an epic failure, the video was too long (around 15 minutes) and I wasn’t sure how to edit. By the way if you are curious I vlogged about my 3 top favourite books in 2016.  Anyways, I don’t think I will be putting up that video which means I will have to re-record it.

So, why this post? Its almost end of the year and I wanted to check in with you and tell you that its okay to be where you are. I hope you are happy with life, however just in case if you are struggling think what you can do to get off the struggle. What will help you get there? Don’t get too bogged down with bad days or failures. And always help someone whenever you can. 

And don’t get scared even when you fail, try to keep up with your plan and keep at it! Everyone fails.



(Pic courtesy: Pinterest)

December without Snow

I am in the mood to celebrate life and December is my favorite month.

So, I have ordered a few more books and my Sundays are mostly about trying to cut down the clutter and soaking up the sun. 

 I am trying to get back to my original self, being more grateful, trying out new hobbies and hoping that this month is where I get to be creative again.

Last month I traveled, planted some more plants in my tiny balcony and started posting in Instagram. I also sprained my left ankle.

I have so much stuff coming for the blog and I am positive that my new change of routines and way of working will ensure I actually can get them done. So, it’s just not a concept running around wild in my head!

For some random links that I have been browsing recently:
  • Let’s start with the gifts: click here 
  • How about unwinding for the year by doodling and learning about its benefits: click here
  • Thinking about starting your own and finding out the latest in the tech world journalism: Click here
  • If you follow a end of day or beauty routine, ever heard of the capsule format: click here
  • Why Scrum is a scale free architecture: Click here
  • How about some serious reading on how social media and mental health are connected: click here
Anyone interested in browsing through the top 50 project management blogs (By Feedspot). can look up here.


(Pic Courtesy: Pinterest)





Where is Project Management?

If that’s what you are wondering, you are not alone.

If you look at my last 3 posts, there’s nothing about project management really. However, all of them will hopefully make you think about being a better professional and a project manager and sustain it over period of time.

Because being a project manager is not a onetime thing, you have to maintain your title, the success of your project and your reputation.

Anyways, this space for me has always been very personal. I have mostly written things that I have been going through in real life. See my first blog post from eight years ago here . That’s what I read/research on and that’s what I mostly write about.


So, hopefully this change of track seems interesting for you. What are you thinking?

(Pic courtesy: pinterest)

Finding your Zone: What you Need to Learn from Winners

I have always wondered what it takes to sustain the intensity of the work required to be successful. It can be easy to be in a positive mind frame every day when you are living life. 

In my search for finding successful people I turned towards athletes. It must be a huge pressure to perform and ensure failures and get back at it again. I learned that some athletes can learn to trigger a feeling of success through smell and sound alone -- outside of competitions. For example, when some athletes are feeling in a really strong, powerful state during training, they smell lavender oil and listen to a certain song. They then repeat these steps before competitions to bring back those powerful feelings. "It can actually elicit quite strong emotions," said Fletcher, explaining how connecting to these neural pathways can help trigger the unconscious brain, pushing the athlete into a really positive state of mind. 

Conditioning your brain is the secret to not only win Olympic medals but also win in the race called Life. Top tennis player Andy Murray often leafs through a notebook during his tennis matches to remind him that he's prepared, capable and ready to win. 

Getting into the zone – also known as “being in a state of flow” – usually happens when we are energized, in a good mood and doing things we enjoy and have some level of skill that meets the demands of the task.
Will a checklist help? Perhaps.  If routine that is continually done and adapted with years and comfort level- you might be able to recreate your zone over and over again. Sometimes it can just be music or a song, sometimes the same setting/place, a perfume.
No matter what it takes, its something essential to continue doing the good work and being you. And its’ not easy. So make the changes and see what gets you in the zone and keep doing it. I don’t think I get into the zone on a regular basis but it helps a lot when I do.
Few things I have been trying to do:
  • Have a routine
  • Repeat the routine during the same time everyday (till it becomes natural and just repeating it puts me in the mood- to relax or write or feel positive)
  • For me sound, visuals and smell work great- I use songs, sometimes visual boards (my office has one) and perfume (I have set perfumes for days when I am not quite myself to make me be myself)

We are all humans and getting into the zone might end up being challenging but that’s what we should look at it- a challenge that needs constant work and adaption.

(Pic courtesy: Pinterest)

Whats in my Bedside Table- The Reading List

This is whats going on right now.

The last book I read was The Sleep Revolution.

Current Read- The Checklist Manifesto.

To read- The Talent Code.

To see why you should be reading these as well, check this space next week.

Whats in your bag?

(Pic Courtesy: Soma Bhattacharya)

This is How I work- Laurens Bonnema

Laurens Bonnema is an Agile Management Consultant with Xebia and an expert in sustainably aligning business and IT to improve the results of IT projects. He also helps people (re)learn how to visualize their ideas through sketchnoting, graphic recording, and videoscribing so they can communicate those ideas more effectively, help each other to solve problems, and have lots of fun.
For the past 17 years, Laurens has served in almost every role in IT. Even Project Manager! More about Laurens’ work at Xebia can be found here. Want to know more about sketch-noting, graphic recording, and videoscribing? Hop on over to www.bonnema.ink.

When do you wake up every day? What’s your alarm set to? 
 My alarm is set to 5:55. Most of the time, that’s also when I wake up.
Tea or Coffee? 
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Any rituals to set the tone for the day in the morning? 
After I wake up, I drink a glass of water and meditate for 10 minutes. When time permits, I read a few newspapers on my iPhone before getting out of bed. If not, I hit the shower, get dressed and go downstairs to grab some breakfast. Over breakfast, I look at my calendar to get a feel for the day, and check my Sprint Backlog to select the three most important things I want to get done today.
When do you feel most productive?
I feel most productive in the morning. That’s when I get most of my work done. After 12:00, my energy tapers off. I usually experience a small burst of residual productivity around 21:00. But between 12:00 and 21:00, I’m mostly on autopilot.
Where do you work?
Work is where the client is. For me, that’s usually in or near one of the main cities in The Netherlands: Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Utrecht. But I’ve done assignments in Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, and India as well.
Three must have items on your desk
 If I could pick only three items to have on my desk, it would be my Leuchtturm1917 Whitelines Link notebook, Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand fountain pen, and Apple Macbook Pro.
What do you listen to while working?
To concentrate on work, I listen to classical music. Mostly Mozart. When I need less focus, I switch to podcasts. At the moment, the Tough Girl Podcast by Sarah Williams is my favorite.
What are you reading currently?
I’ve just finished “Your Press Release is Breaking my Heart” by Janet Murray and am currently reading “Verbaal Meesterschap (Verbal Mastery)” by Remco Claassen. Remco is one of the most celebrated public speakers in The Netherlands. Next up is “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday.
How do you organize?
I use Scrum to stay organized and productive. I have a Product Backlog spread out over several Trello boards. Every two weeks, I select items from those boards and put them in Todoist. That’s my Sprint Backlog. Every day, I select the three most important items to get done from Todoist. Some days I do more, almost never less. I don’t distinguish between personal and client items. When I did, the personal items never seemed to get done. Now, I have a nice work-life-swirl going that suits me much better than work-life-balance.
Any hacks you prefer for work?
 Learn something new! And start teaching it to others as soon as you’re somewhat competent. It will keep you engaged, fresh, and enthusiastic. That translates to all the other stuff you do. Even the stuff you don’t like as much.
What are your favorite gadgets?
At the moment, my favorite gadget is my iPad Pro. I love it! It’s a wonderful drawing tool that also functions as a powerful tablet. Highly recommended for anyone getting into digital drawing!
What apps can you not live without?
 It’s a bit of a list I’m afraid, but I’ll try to keep it brief and limit myself to the eleven iPhone/iPad apps I rely on the most that aren’t time-wasters: Mail, Trello, Todoist, Calendar, Fantastical, Buffer, Overcast, OPTIMIZE, Headspace, Adobe Draw, and Concepts.
Any new addition to your routines?
The newest addition to my routine is guided meditation with Headspace. I’ve been meditating for years without guidance, and I love the way Headspace makes it easy to stay focussed. I’m still a bit on the fence about it though. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll discover I prefer unguided meditation after all.
Also, I’m trying to make habits of exercise and writing. Mostly failing at that so far. So tomorrow I’ll try again!
How do you recharge?

Reading. Nothing gets me relaxed faster than reading a great novel. That, and sleep of course.

(Pic courtesy: Laurens Bonnema)

Getting off the Grid- You can save yourself

When the sun shines on you, you have a got a good day.

We are so busy and overwhelmed with work and life that we are always running around trying to sort out our to-do's. We have stopped smelling the roses.

And we pay the price for it.

Coping up to keep ourselves in the current workforce leads to around 56% with musculoskeletal symptoms. 22% newly diagnosed hypertension,10% had diabetes, 36% had dyslipidemia, 54% had depression, anxiety and insomnia, 40% had obesity. The stress score was higher in employees who developed diabetes, hypertension and depression. (Source)

Did you know that work stress has been categorized through a series of  stages.
  1. The honeymoon stage: Euphoric feeling if excitement, enthusiasm, challenges and pride on getting a new job. Dysfunctional processes include the depletion of energy reserves in coping and adapting to the new environment.
  2. The full throttle stage: Going full swing leads to a depletion of resources. Other symptoms include dissatisfaction, sleep disturbances, overeating, drinking or smoking.
  3. The chronic symptom stage: Development of chronic symptoms like physical illness, anger and depression.
  4. The crisis stage: Persistence of symptoms leads to disease, chronic backache, headache, high BP, insomnia, etc., would develop.
  5. Hitting the wall stage: No person can continue under strain for too long and one may reach the end of one's professional career. Burnout stress syndrome takes over.
  6. The opposite: Rust our stress syndrome occurs under extreme hypo stress. This is likely to occur when the gap between one’ capabilities and environmental demands becomes too wide.

We don’t realize the stress we are putting our bodies through until something goes wrong and we are spending our time more at the doctor’s lobby than in office or home.

According to the American Optometric Association, people who use computers daily at work or at home could suffer from computer vision syndrome  , which leaves them vulnerable to problems like dry eye, eyestrain, neck and backaches, light sensitivity and fatigue.

We are all aware of what happens. Rarely do we take the time to sit down and plan to change our lifestyle. I know it firsthand. I have moved between countries, thought myself as a go-getter, done well for myself with a full time job and a blog and hosting meet up group because networking is a good, right? I ate mostly healthy, exercised rarely and wondered if I would ever have the time to sit down with a cup of tea and read a novel? I didn’t and with motherhood, my workload went crazy. I had the help, however no one can take the stress of the mind to trying to juggling so many things. I felt guilty that I couldn’t write the blog, I was so exhausted by the end of the day. Small things piled up over the years till I was sitting in a doctors lobby recently did I realize there’s no meaning for all the ambition if I can’t balance my health along with it.

So, here are 5 steps you can consider:
  1. Move- there’s no alternative to moving your body and keeping it healthy. Don’t worry if you don’t have  a gym or a park nearby- just walk during lunch. If you can’t take longer breaks form life or work, try in small increments. I started using my office gym because once I landed home, I never had the time. I try walking around in office, taking stairs and a quick walk during lunch for like 10 minutes. They all add up and it helps- your mood and health 
  2. Meals- Try limiting takeout food, eating cookies or chips for lunch isn’t a good idea. Plan ahead, make a salad or a stir fry and just take it with you. Try a smoothie. What you put in your body matters, instead of a fizzy drink try coconut water. And this isn’t some words just typed in because I liked my burgers and fizzy drinks- it de-stressed me... till I figured out how much sugar I was putting in my body and zero nutrition for nothing. Eat healthy and once in a while indulge in your fav food.
  3. Take Breaks- don’t sit at a stretch for hours at work, I am guilty of it too, I am trying to change. Use a reminder, apps, alarm- anything that works for you, but take a break. Your eyes and body will thank you for it. Take breaks as in vacation, even if it means you are just sitting at home reading a good book.
  4. Stop Being Guilty- prioritize yourself. It’s okay to not finish that painting by the weekend, your well being matters the most. Instead just go out and play, the weathers on your side now.
  5. Create a Routine to Relax- unwind every day, end of day. When you work around the same routine every day, it gives the cue to your brain, it’s time to get to bed now or sleep. So, the first step of your routine will often get you relaxed like getting in your pj’s.

The most important of all, stop saying I don’t have time. It’s not about time it’s about priority. Nothing beats your health because if that’s not on your side, your career and ambition is in for a steep fall.

So, when overwhelmed GET OFF THE GRID. It's okay to postpone sometimes, its allright to say I will take care of myself first, it better to prevent, it's logical to switch of your digital belongings and accounts couple of times a week, try being a minimal and natural as possible and then go out and conquer the world. 

(Pic courtesy: Image 1, Image 2)

What I have been reading and why it matters to you

I wanted to share with you some random links that makes sense when you look at it from your personal development point of view.

For success, life not only has to be organized, you have to be in a very stable mental space and none of them just happen to happen. I hope you find something in these stories that helps you find that zone. 
And looking for a real pick me up, don't miss this. Malcolm Gladwell being interviewed by Tim Ferris.

"For one hour of writing, there's three hours of thinking". 

This is How I Work- Peter Taylor


Peter Taylor is a PMO expert currently leading a Global PMO, with 200 project managers acting as custodians for nearly 5,000 projects around the world, for Kronos Inc. - a billion-dollar software organisation delivering Workforce Management Solutions.  He is also the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’.

In the last 4 years Peter has delivered over 200 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’. More information can be found at www.thelazyprojectmanager.com  – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.

When do you wake up every day? What’s your alarm set to? 
I don’t have a pattern since I am moving regularly between the UK and the US, plus a few other countries in between just to make it interesting, but I am a morning person so wake up easily and can adapt to whatever time zone I am in.

Tea or Coffee? 
Coffee, most definitely coffee.

Any rituals to set the tone for the day in the morning? 
I like to get ready for the day, then check emails, deal with anything urgent and then take some time to go out for, and enjoy, a coffee, before returning for the working day.

When do you feel most productive? 
Well I said I was a morning person, which I am, but creatively I develop a lot of ideas on flights and also at night so productivity happens at various times.

Where do you work? 

I am based at home and have a pleasant first floor office in my house, but I also work out of various offices and customer locations as needed – as long as I have my phone and laptop work can happen.

Three must have items in your desk 
A clean writing pad, pens and laptop – phones come next on the list – oh and a webcam (visual engagement is so much better than just audio) – I know that is more than three items but I do need them all.

What do you listen to while working? 
A wide variety of music, in fact when writing one of my books you will often find a credit to a band or singer who ‘helped’ me on the journey to completing a manuscript. I find that if I ever get stuck on a problem or in the middle of writing them something ‘heavy’ (Metallica for example) somehow frees my mind and gets me going again. That said my music library is extensive and varied so there is always something good to listen to (well I think it is good but we all have different musical tastes).

What are you reading currently?
I usually have three or more books on the go at any time, something on my Kindle, and an audio book for when I travel, and a business book (printed) for education. Right now I am about to start ‘How to Lead a Quest: a handbook for pioneering executives’ by Dr Jason Fox.

How do you organize? 
‘Productively Lazily’ since it is the mantra in my bestselling book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’. I apply the 80/20 as much as I can, focusing on what really matters, daily sorting through what is most important and most impactful and working on that first of all – it works, well it works for me. Just remember the great quote ‘Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something’ Robert Heinlein

Any hacks you prefer for work?
It is not really a hack but I do inject fun as much as possible in my work, surprising my team sometimes with some unusual activities or ideas – the ‘hack’ is to throw people off path to think more creatively and be more productive

What are your favorite gadgets?
I guess it has to be my iPhone for various business and personal uses but generally I am not a gadget person – just give me the laptop and phone and I can work

What apps can you not live without?
Because of my travel activity I use the various airline apps a lot along with my travel company app, but I do love Audible for audio books so that is probably my number one

Any new addition to your routines? 
Always open to changes, apart from the coffee part, but nothing recent

How do you recharge? 
Writing. I always find that being a little creative allows me to relax and recharge.

(Pic courtesy: Peter Taylor)


This is How I work- Lindsay Scott

Lindsay Scott is a Director at Arras People, the programme and project management recruitment specialist in the UK. She’s also founder of the PMO Flashmob and PMO Conference. She is PMI’s PM Network career columnist and writes for TwentyEighty Strategy Execution and Project Challenge. Lindsay is also Co-Editor of the Handbook of People in Project Management

When do you wake up every day? What’s your alarm set to? 
Unfortunately my alarm goes off about 7.15am each morning, which is not necessarily the time I get up! I’m a real night owl so don’t like early mornings at all. I’ve often wondered if I would be better suited to the night shift but my work relies on being around when most other people are.

Tea or Coffee? 
Definitely tea – Yorkshire Tea, decaff with milk. Almost impossible to get in any other part of the world and always appreciated when I return from travels abroad. Us English certainly have a thing about tea 

Any rituals to set the tone for the day in the morning? 
Oh yes, bad habits too – tea, a cigarette and a look at the Times cryptic crossword. If its summer, sat outside overlooking the garden – or if it’s typical Manchester weather, rain, then its quickly out the door to work.

When do you feel most productive? 
I actually feel most productive mid morning and then later on in the evening so I tend to do different types of work at those times. In the morning I do a lot of writing about project management careers for various outlets, the first being the Camel blog. Later in the evening its more about research and reading.

Where do you work? 
I work in different places. We have an office in North Manchester, that’s the main office for Arras People. It’s in a small town, nothing fancy but I have a large desk and lots of in-trays. It looks like chaos but there is a system honestly! I work in London a lot too so there’s time spent working on the train, which I love, two hours of no interruptions because the phone network is so bad. In London I work in an apartment I rent, or grab a desk at the Institute of Directors in London’s Pall Mall (the pink one in Monopoly!). I tend to like working in different places because I’m a firm believer in a change is as good as a rest, especially when you’re trying to be creative in writing articles and suchlike.

Three must have items in your desk.
A cup of tea, lots of pencils and my day workbook.

What do you listen to while working? 
Nothing other than the general chatter of those around me at work or on the train. I’ve never been one for music or the radio playing in the background but can work well if there is. I just tune out.

What are you reading currently? 
I’ve got about three books on the go at the moment. For fiction it’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, set in London, an intriguing read so far. For non-fiction but not work related its The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons – I did a Psychology degree many years ago and still pick out books related to that. I’m also dipping in and out of The small BIG: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence. A good interpersonal book for any project manager. I’m a big reader so tend to have books on the go on Kindle and the real thing!

How do you organize? 
I tend to use the calendar a lot – Outlook Exchange so it works on every device I have. I’m also a sucker for a good old-fashioned list. I use a workbook – just a jotter from the stationery store and a “5 days a week” list. It’s standard stuff but I tend to list what needs to happen in the week on certain days then add in the activities I need to complete day by day. I often spend 5 minutes at the end of each work day updating the list, moving things around and doing that really satisfactory thing of striking a line through the things I’ve completed.

Any hacks you prefer for work? 
Because I’m working in different places all the time I totally rely on Dropbox to keep everything filed and easily accessible. I can’t bear not being able to lay my hands on things when I need to, plus Dropbox is also great for managing my photos taken by phone which I use for blog articles.

I use social media a lot for work too and I love reading and sharing great blogs. Dlvr is great for managing multiple social media accounts plus I love its Curator tool which allows me to save my favorite feeds, read blog articles and quickly share them across different platforms.

Finally another great tool if you use a lot of imagery in your work is PicMonkey  Although I use Adobe products a lot (Photoshop and Illustrator) you can’t beat Picmonkey for quick and easy image creation.

What are your favorite gadgets?
The usual I think – iPhone, iPad and laptop. I’m Apple on the mobile gadgets and good old fashioned Microsoft on the laptop and PC. I think that’s a Gen X thing! And I love the Kindle for being a good old workhorse of a gadget that withstands some serious knocking about. I’m also doing a lot of filming of sessions for the PMO Flashmob too so now camcorders have become a thing for me. Sennheiser wireless microphones are the best thing I’ve ever bought

What apps can you not love without? 
Oh wow, where do I start. Dropbox, Echofon (for Twitter), Facebook, Times newspaper, Daily Mail newspaper (guilty pleasure!), Weather app from the Met Office (we’re obsessed with the weather!), BBC iPlayer (TV on the go, great for the train), Anagram solver and the Thesaurus app (can’t do the crossword without it). I also like sketching when I’m at a conference – doing basic mindmaps, so I like basic drawing apps for those but no particular favorite (using Paper and Brushes at the moment)

Any new addition to your routines? 
Yes I’ve starting organizing an annual PMO Conference in London –  which has meant I have a whole new type of work to do. I love it. Especially the part where I get to choose what topic areas we’re going to cover and talk to potential speakers about their passions. It’s also meant I get out and about more listening to others speaking at conferences, like the PMO Symposium in the States. I suppose it’s like a big project for me – doing the project rather than writing about project management or recruiting for project managers like in the day job at Arras People. I like to have new things to do – to set new challenges – to blend with the work I’ve been doing for a while (it’s coming up to 15 years at Arras People!)

How do you recharge? 
I’m the queen of chilling out when I need to – or want to – I enjoy watching TV and movies – anything period drama wise and you’ve got me! Love reading of course and at a weekend I love visiting places. In England we have so much history on our doorsteps and under our noses that you just have to get out and explore. Recent weekends away have included the castle where Harry Potter was filmed and the Plague Village. If there is a magnificent garden to visit I’m also right there, and a chance to combine them with a city visit even better. The Real Jardín Botanico de Madrid was a recent visit.

(Pic courtesy: Lindsay Scott)

To read the last interview of this series, please click here.

This Is How I work- Siddharta Govindaraj

 Siddharta Govindaraj is an agile transformation consultant who help leaders meet their business objectives by transforming the way their organisation delivers software. He also started Silver Stripe Software Pvt Ltd, to work further in the area of software delivery

He was nominated for the Brickell Key award in 2011, an award given by the Lean Software Systems Consortium for recognizing achievements in the lean-agile industry and also a Fellow of the Lean Systems Society.

When do you wake up every day? What’s your alarm set to?
Usually between 5:30 to 6:30. I don’t have an alarm. My body clock is pretty good at getting me up in this range.

Tea or Coffee? 
I drink anything. Sometimes tea, sometimes coffee (usually when I’m outside the house), sometimes oats. I recently got my hands on some Kerala cocoa and I’ve been having Xocolatl (Warning: Pure cocoa is BITTER!)
Everyone should taste this to understand just how much sugar gets added to chocolate 😊

Any rituals to set the tone for the day in the morning? 
None. I’m just not the organised type of person to make this happen.

When do you feel most productive? 
Early morning. Late night. Even afternoon. The important thing is that I need 3 hours of continuous undisturbed time. Then I get into the zone and I can go on for hours. During my college days, I once started a project at at 7pm and at around 4am, a bunch of bees decided that my tubelight was the sunrise and invaded my room.

Where do you work? 
I work at home when I’m not at a clients office.

Three must have items in your desk.
I like to use fountain pens. I keep two of them in my bag. One has black ink and a fine nib and the other has a dark green ink and a medium flex nib. Someone has recommended deep red. Hmmm...

What do you listen to while working?
Nothing. I can’t do two things at once. If I play music, I can’t maintain my concentration. But I do listen to a bunch of podcasts while driving.

What are you reading currently?
Lean Change Management by Jason Little.

I met Jason at the Lean Kanban conference in 2011. His writings on agile transformations are the best I’ve read. Highly recommended - http://www.agilecoach.ca/blog/

How do you organize?
I don’t 😲

Any hacks you prefer for work?
I maintain a personal Kanban board when I’m at a client location. I have a really bad memory, so the board is very helpful. You can see a bit of it in the picture below.

What are your favorite gadgets?
 My Nintendo 3DS. Easily the best video games in a portable format. I generally play quite a bit of video games.

What apps can you not live without?
First, the Live Tiles feature on my Windows Phone. Yes, I’m one of the five people in the world who have a Windows Phone. iPhone is too boring and Android is full of malware. The Live Tiles feature is just fantastic because it shows a ton of information on the home screen. I rarely have to open an app.


  • Podcast Lounge – great podcasting app. I listen to podcasts when I’m driving alone. Why waste the drive time?
  • These are the Podcasts I mostly listen to:
  • Freakonomics Radio – interesting topics on a wide variety of topics
  • Harvard Business Review Ideacast – interviews on latest ideas on management
  • The Advanced Selling Podcast – about selling stuff 😊
  • The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast – this is a podcast on board games, which I play quite a bit of

Any new addition to your routines? 
I don’t have a routine to start with 😉

How do you recharge?
Usually go for a drive, or go to the beach. We’re lucky in Chennai that we have 15 km of beach.

(Pic courtesy: Siddhartha)

Giveaway: Project Management 2.0

Here's another Giveaway for you: Project Management 2.0 by Harold Kerzner

Project Management 2.0To read the review of the book, click here 

The give away is applicable only in India (no international shipping for now). Here' what you have to do:
  • Let me know you are interested to partcipate in the giveaway by adding a comment
  • OR you can tweet  about it and use the hashtag #SIPM
  • Last date is Aug 30.
I will pick a winner and announce it in the Blog on September 1. 

Have a good weekend!

This is how I work

When do you wake up every day? What’s your alarm set to?
Right now somewhere between 7.30 am-8.00 am. I try to wake up naturally, I leave the curtains open for the sunlight to stream in. 

Tea or Coffee?
Recently switched to tea. I am usually a coffee person for that first cup in the morning.

Any rituals to set the tone for the day in the morning?
Water my plants and soak up the morning sun for a couple of minutes and some days write in my gratitude journal may be a line or two.

When do you feel most productive?
I have always been a night owl, recently I am trying to make some lifestyle changes and have been trying to feel inspired in the morning. Some days mornings work for me, sometimes old habits die hard.

Where do you work?
I have my dark wood compact desk set up in the bedroom by the window, I like the natural light and the corner of the room. The desk has enough space to keep my knick knacks on and storage for files. the window sill has few plants. My desk is pic 2, of course its a partial pic of the desk. I pair it up with a light brown leather swivel big chair that's comfortable enough to nap in :)

However, sometimes I will just work out of the couch while watching TV (at night) or at the dining table if I am trying to keep my laptop out of my 2 year old's reach. 

What are you reading currently?
The last book I read was Magical Thinking by Elizabeth Gilbert and that was a week ago. Right now, nothing specific. However every night I will browse through articles or blogs or anything that inspires me. Since I am trying to make my lifestyle much more positive and inspiring, I read on heath, food and being inspired and how it affects our well being and work style. 

As for work reading it really depends, it's is mostly on Agile or management. Last book I read was Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. 

How do you keep things organized?
I carry a notepad and pen with me all the time. I like the feel of pen and paper, so sometimes I will use the notepad, sometimes just jot things down in my phone. I also use sticky notes a lot for my to do list for the day.

Any hack you prefer for work?
When I read books, I will usually use post it notes and mark the important things or pages, so years later if I have to refer it’s just easy than having to read the whole book again.

What are your favorite gadgets?
An old DELL laptop, Mac book air and an Iphone.

What apps can you not live without?
I have reduced my times spent on apps, however once in a while I will still pop in whatsapp to catch up with my friends. Evernote. Instagram. Twitter. Pinterest. That’s it. I do have more than required apps on my phone, I have been trying to reduce my time on them and focus more on myself. So far, it’s been a positive change. It was the most difficult of changes to make to not check phone every five minutes. 

Any new addition to your routines?
I get bored very easily, so I try to change my routines once a in a while. Recently it has been trying to work out (I use the office gym) on a regular basis. I think my best when I am working out or just out a for a walk alone. I have also been trying out inspiration boards and gardening J

How do you recharge?
Mostly by reading  (book or just browsing through interesting reads over the web, sometimes just Pinterest) or watching a good movie and ordering in and if possible a mini vacation. 

This post is inspired by Lifehacker posts on the same topic. Click here to know more.

(Pic courtesy: pic 1- Pinterest. Pic 2- my desk)

Being Inspired

Only 25 percent of job success is based upon IQ. Seventy-five percent is about how your brain believes your behavior matters, connects to other people, and manages stress.  Click for more 

To work at your best nothing is more required than feeling fresh and inspired, ready to take on the day. But in today’s world, the stress, the complexity of our lives and the constant urge for more means life is about the rat race and less about being grateful and enjoying the NOW.
Here are 5 tried and tested ways to feel inspired: 
  • Connect with nature- The moments you wake up and no matter how you feel, connect with nature. Stand by your window and breathe in the fresh air, take your cup of tea to the balcony even if it’s for a minute, get a bit of sunlight or go for a walk. I have started looking forward to my mornings and the positive feeling it brings. Here are 10 benefits of sunlight 
  • Hold on to the positivity- I use my journal to write may be a line or two. If you have the time, feel free to invest couple of minutes here. Reinforce the positivity- listen to good music, read good quotes- whatever makes you feel positive. “Happy thoughts and positive thinking, in general, support brain growth, as well as the generation and reinforcement of new synapses, especially in your prefrontal cortex (PFC), which serves as the integration center of all of your brain-mind functions”. Source here  
  • Create a positive routine- give yourself couple of minutes white getting ready for the day. Wear the color you want, have a cup of tea while you get ready, have a fruit, read/listen a good book. Positivity has rewire your brain and help you broaden your skill set.  
  • Create an inspiring space at work- well not all of us have the luxury to design our own work space at office but smaller changes do create a big impact. Keep things you will need to keep your work life organized, comfortable and inspiring- index cards, sticky notes, personal pictures, quotes, few knick knacks you can add, healthy snacks etc.
  • Come home to a happy space- which means you have to leave the home clean and organized in the mornings. Light a candle, put on music, plays with kids and have a flavorful dinner. Catch up on some reading or your favorite shows, go for a walk, watch the stars- be grateful for the day you have had.
In case you didn’t know happy employees have about 31% higher productivity, 37% higher sales, and three times higher creativity! 

(pic courtesy: Pinterest)
 

Decision Making: what you should know about it.


Long ago when I was in school in US, I remember one of my professors talking about how he was teaching his toddler about choices and decision making.  He said, today we decided to have both milk and orange juice at the table during breakfast. And we asked Josh- Milk or juice? Josh said- milk juice. He wanted both. They finally couldn’t get Josh, the toddler to decide but he said perhaps tomorrow.
I sat in the class thinking, wow ... I wouldn’t even have thought of that. Growing up in India, decisions were mostly made for you, especially about food.

While options are great, sometimes having too many aren’t as easy to decide....
  •  Like when you have couple of job offers in hand
  •  Wardrobe decions every morning
  • Too many goals
  • Multiple decisions to make in a very short period of time

  1. Make your decisions in the morning\
  2. Eat first
  3. Cut down your choices
  4. Open the windows
  5. Use a foreign language

And  if you worry too much about making the right decision, click here 

(Pic courtesy: Google images)
 The winner of the Giveaway is Sudharshan from Hyderabad. 



Give Away: The Project Managers Guide to Mastering Agile



If you have been planning to read up this summer, this might be handy.

Giving away The Project Managers Guide to Mastering AGILE , to read a review about it and know more details click here.

The give away is applicable only in India (no international shipping for now). Here' what you have to do:
  • You can leave comments below on what inspires you to be a Project Manager? (comments are moderated so will not be visible immediately)
  • OR you can tweet  about it and use the hashtag #SIPM
  • Last date is June 30.
I will pick a winner and announce it in the Blog on July 1. 

You are Not Limited by your Location- SIPM Connect

If you thought your opportunities are limited by your location- think again.

 You can be located anywhere in the world and yet to connect to continents apart. So, if you are new to project management and what to know more, why limit yourself to your locality. Be bold. Be brave. Reach out to anyone.

The most difficult part of reaching out to someone in the PM community is:
  • You might want to network or work with the best; however you don’t know how to reach them
  • If you reach out, you aren’t sure if they will be open to it


Why SIPM Connect:
  • You can choose a mentor or someone to connect with anywhere in the world (choose based on country, city)
  • You can also choose them based on your domain of work and location (in case you want someone local, for example if you work in projects within advertisement, mass media who might want to connect with someone local or within your country)
  • They have already agreed to be the mentor (they have signed up as experts and chosen to be a mentor), which means you don’t have to pursue them as much to mentor you.
  • Best part, its free. Login from anywhere in world to anyone.  And you will never get bombarded with emails. Never. 



(Pic courtesy: SIPM)

Digital Detox

Over communication can be a kill, so once in a while detox helps. How often you do its up to you.

I do one when:
  • I am stressed about messages all over the place that I am expected to read and reply to immediately ( for work or otherwise)
  • I need some quiet time for myself
  • I want to re-invent me
  • I don't feel happy or focused

5 simple ways to detox:
  • Phone- If you cannot switch off your phone, don’t connect to the WiFi. Your phone would work but you can stop checking your social media.  
  • Online Status- You can let everyone know you will be offline for a week, which would clear off the expectations
  • It’s difficult- Everyone is constantly staring at their phone which also means it would be rather difficult to break the habit. So, if you are not the do in moderation kind, switch off your phone completely or take a vacation and go offline. You will be okay after a day or two.
  • Upload later- If you need to share pics or updates, wait for the detox time period and then go for it. Don’t break the detox. 
  • Why it helps- It will help you rejuvenate and relax, a much needed requirement for a project manager.  You will come back from the detox with a new perspective and a better focus.
(Pic courtesy: Pinterest)