How to Set Yourself Up for a Productive Day

If you are the kind of person, who wants to get more done and are struggling to stay consistent, this might be right for you. 

In this video, I talk about 3 ways you can trick yourself to check off the lists and yes, it's all in the mindset.

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Book Review| Show your Work

May 31, 2021 | | 0 comments |

I am an introvert and have like many always struggled showing my work. 

I dreamt hidden behind the curtains of my apartment's floor to ceiling windows and wanted to get the courage to one day tell everyone about my ideas. I was shy like many to speak up or show my work. So, when I was in school I had warmed up to the idea to write for a newspaper. Back then you had to mail them and one day out of nowhere it was published. That's how I started- showing my work.

That didn't take away from the awkwardness of thinking that if I wanted to show my work it would always be talking amidst people and selling them my pitch. Later, slowly I would send poems, articles mailed to be published in some coffee table books and journals.

Later when I had mustered the courage standing in front of the mirror holding the record button of my walkman practising speaking to a crowd I realised you could now blog. Thankfully that helped me start writing. I had a personal blog way back in college and then wrote another lifestyle blog and finally this one that you are reading today. Showing your work can be powerful, with so many platforms available now you can choose the one that makes you comfortable. I finally mustered up the courage also to start speaking up- opened my YouTube channel.

I wish I read this book before and that's why today we will talk about this book with the hope that if you are still fumbling and thinking whether you are good enough to showcase your work- you need to read this.

Show your Work

The Book- Show Your Work

Author- Austin Kleon

Price: 603 INR Kindle and 916  INRfor paperback (I have the Kindle version) 

Who Should read it- Anyone who wants to put their work in the public domain and needs a little bit of push.

"It's not enough to be good. In order to be found, you have to findable"

Put your work out there- You need to decide to put your work out there, whether it's through words, pics or videos. Kleon thinks that people will find you (yeah I am waiting for that too and thank you for reading my blog).You don't have to be a genius, rich or mater- you can start as an amateur.

Learn in front of others- The best way to get started on the path of sharing your work is to make a commitment to start learning in front of others. I think the biggest fear is that of being called a failure when you put yourself out without being an expert. I know it well enough especially when taking up a new role or a new platform. I think more successful you are in one one part of life, more fearful you are putting yourself out in another. 

Read Obituaries- To be aware that we are all going to die one day might help us treat our days as something to share our work. I recently heard it's also one of the good ways to find out what your goals are or who you want to be. thinking what will be written in your gravestone after you are long gone, is what brings back clarity on what we should be doing more of.

Think process not products- What used to matter before was just the product.  No one knew what happened behind the scenes in creating it. However now with social media available an artist /author/ideator doesn't have to work in secrecy behind the scenes anymore and can choose to talk about the process if he/she chooses to. By putting things out there consistently, anyone can actually form a relationship with customers who can now read/see the person behind the products. 

Become a documentarian of what you do- how can you show your work even when you have nothing to show? documenting your life can have its advantages because now you can get it done even with just a phone. You can choose to share when you are ready now that you have enough content ready

Share something small everyday- in early stages share what inspires you, middle stage share your process and as an expert share about how your project/products are doing.

"That's all any of us are: amateurs. We don't live long enough to be anything else" . - Charlie Chaplin

Turn your flow into Stock- Stock is best made by collecting, organizing and expanding upon your flow.

Tell good stories- Human being like to know where things came from, how they made it and who made them. always keep your audience in mind when telling one.

Shut up and Listen- if you are only pointing to your own stuff online, you are doing it wrong. you have to be a connector. if you want to get, you have to give.

Learn to take a punch- when you put your work out there, you have to be ready for the good, bad and the ugly. trick is to not care what everybody thinks of you but what the right people think of you.

"I come pre hated. Take your best shot" - Cyndi lauper

Pay it forward- Be as generous as you can but selfish enough to get your work done.

Reading this book again, opened me up to getting back to my work and start hitting the "publish" button again. Let me know if you read this book. 

(Pic courtesy: Google images)


Getting More done| Time Management

May 24, 2021 | | 0 comments |

 If you woke up every morning and could see the amount of work you get done everyday, you would pat yourself everyday. 

Getting more done always doesn't mean waking up at 5am, it can still be managed with these 3 simple tips depending on the kind of work you do and the style you prefer. 

1. Prioritization

2. Time Blocking

3. Visual Boards

More in the video below:



Which one is your choice of time management?


Locked up: The New Age of Collaboration amidst WFH

Lot of people I knew over the years, looked down upon work from home. Being at work meant more engagement, interest, collaboration. So, why work from home?

Today we are redefining what collaboration means locked up in our homes. An estimated 16 million U.S. knowledge workers started working remotely due to Covid-19 as of March 27, 2020 

The same group who once scorned the ability to work from home now talked about how surprised they were being able to work from their own home and numbers started trickling in of greater productivity, more efficiency and everyone happier because of finally being able to get rid of the commute, spend quality time with family and some even working on their newly found hobbies. 


Ninety-four percent of 800 employers surveyed by Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm, said that productivity was the same as or higher than it was before the pandemic, even with their employees working remotely 

Has this era of pandemic broken the traditional idea of work and collaboration? Has this led to taking a modern approach of being able to collaborate remotely bringing in the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere globally. Has this opened up the global market for the talent pool? Does this encourage a lot more women to come back to work or continue with work?

Forbes mentioned “The fastest growth in remote work has been in computer-related occupations, with business, financial, and management occupations also experiencing rapid growth in teleworking” 

I know this first hand, I have friends who have moved to other cities or travelled back to their home states rented apartments and are working from there for months now. All of them mostly working in IT. The Facebook groups of home stays are flourishing with a steady growth of members everyday which only can vouch for the fact that everyone is enjoying the newly found freedom of being able to connect remotely.

These changes have steadied few things:

  1. The market has changed for good- remote working is here to stay. With all myths of remote working being debunked, more and more companies are opening up to the  option of continuing with remote work. It might be one of the positive changes left behind by this deadly pandemic.
  2. Improved communication skills will be required- flexibility and remote working will mean better and more communication skills to gap the loopholes created by not being able to meet face to face. Building teams and camaraderie over zoom calls might reveal new skill sets everyone needs to bridge the gap of real face to face conversations. Team connects will just not be for a stand ups or town halls, it can simply be a break with colleagues or used to welcome a new team member.
  3. Self-motivation is essential and so are the tools- working on your own schedule and on your own might also need more willpower and self-motivation to get things done on time. This is more challenging with kids at home for the longer run with online from home schools. To be able to get deep work done that require more attention might need setting up rules and boundaries even at home. Tools that allow team to collaborate and work together will likely be more in use.

So, does this mean more remote project management positions openings up? While sites like Upwork who have always flourished on remote work model has 1,223 Project Manager positions tagged and open to hire right now, Fiverr has project managers ready to set up collaboration software for teams amongst other things from Monday dot com to Trello.

Change at any level as it turns out is not easy and this concept of locked up collaboration seems to be just a start to slowly settle down as a  mainstream way of working.

What do you think?


(Pic courtesy: Pexel)

Rethinking Agile as Bold, Kind and Human

Feb 26, 2021 | | 0 comments |

 This post was first published  in Projectmanagement.com. Click here to read. 

Agile has become ubiquitous in project management, with teams using it to spark out-of-the-box thinking and drive countless projects across the finish line. Yet almost as quickly as the approach popped up, companies and project leaders began to oversell it—and what seemed to be a radical way of thinking has become mired in repetition and monotony.  

Agile was about being open and transparent, and people having the utmost importance in the process. Now, if you ask anyone about agile, it’s all about the three questions: What have you completed since the last meeting? What do you plan to complete by the next meeting? What’s getting in your way? There’s also the fear of being constantly monitored and the fact your performance is measured by your team’s velocity. 

Breaking out of this mold can prove difficult—who has the time? But with much of the world working from home, now might be the best chance to rethink agile as boldkind and human



Let’s look at how that might work.

Agile is bold: Challenge the process. Question what’s right for your team and be open to experiment. To get everyone engaged, encourage team members to ask questions. And try incorporating at least one fun icebreaker in each team stand up to get people to open up and spark discussion. 

Agile is kind: Just because the data seems all over the place or you don’t achieve a desired project outcome, the team is not always wrong. Look for insights, do anonymous retrospectives, dig deeper and listen more. Avoid making assumptions. Instead, remain empathetic and open as you talk through challenges and navigate team members to arrive at a solution. 

Agile is human: Agile won’t work if the team can’t work together and it’s up to leaders to foster a sense of camaraderie. One way to build this spirit of collaboration and rapport is through simple exercises, like using a sticky note or sharable spreadsheet where team members anonymously write one thing they’re good at or that they’re proud of outside of work. Then allow other team members to guess that person’s identity. This isn’t about who wins, but it gets the entire team to communicate in a low-stakes environment.  

What are the biggest challenges your team has come across with agile—and how have you overcome them?

(Pic courtesy: Pexel)

Book Review- Digital Project Practice (managing Innovation and Change)| Giveaway

If 2021 has reading more books in your mind, you can start with this one that questions the status quo. Digital Project Practice (Managing Innovations and Change) , edited by Tobias Endress is a  collection of articles spread across 3 categories - Methods and Practices, Tools and Techniques and Culture, Soft Skill and Human resources. To check the book out please click here.

Giveaway details at the end of the post.


An advantage of having independent chapters in a book means you can start with any chapter that interests you. If you are thinking how do I know which chapter to start first start with, all of them come with a summary at the end of chapter. I found it rather interesting to see the topics that were covered  and perhaps the background of the authors from various countries and regions and profiles that make an interesting mix to not only read the book but have multiple takeaways to rethink the way you operate.

The book was written with the purpose to share the  business experience and prepare a book that introduces the methods, but also covers the practical aspect, critically acclaimed existing approaches and practices, and shows the limitations. This means the book touches on appropriate methods as well as social aspects. The social factor is actually one of the running themes in the book. I experienced in many projects that managing the human aspect can be at least as demanding as mastering the technological challenges in complex environments. It felt it might be a good idea to bring together the perspectives and experiences from various professionals with an international background and contrasting ideas in one book. 

The chapter by the editor Tobias Endress called “Ideas and Requirements for Digital Innovation” is a great place to start. Practical and yet the chapter nudges you into thinking why the initial process of ideation is ignored in so many organizations and teams and the problems it later leads to. From multiple product owners to introducing design thinking as a complementary process for Agile he writes in details how it can be of help. I have definitely seen companies who do something similar and the author cites Salesforce and their use of design thinking to bring out innovation.

He also steps into the creative area and talks why brainstorming just isn’t enough. I think the same way about brainstorming that the best idea accepted is usually from the one person who competes and wins to speak in a limited period of time (perhaps mostly extroverts). Now that might not always be the best idea and you see that’s what I like about this book that it brings up topics and issues that are humane. It’s just not technicalities and KPI and charts and graphs to track the work, it’s what really works in real scenarios where the human factor is of the utmost importance.

The author mentions: I wanted to emphasise the importance of the start phase of the project. Agile methods like SCRUM or XP seemingly support the ‘quick start’ of any project. However, even when the methods aim to provide rapid results and feedback through fast deliveries it is my experience that it’s difficult to deliver a project in time and quality when you “sprint” too often in the wrong direction. I’m convinced that it saves time and money and possibly quite some headache when the objective is well thought through in the beginning. This does not mean that it is set in stone and may not be refined during the project phase, but good preparation might significantly reduce the frictions during the following phases. The practices highlighted in our book aim is reducing frictions in the first place.

I have to say, though this book initially comes across as just theories stringed together, sooner than later it turns out to be an interesting study. It definitely is for those who have spent a few years working and is well aware of the general business and process that’s being used in small or big firms. Also for newbies who want to start with the right mindset. If you are trying to think differently or look at another perspective- this book has your name written on it.

In many projects and conversation with fellow project professionals I heard statements like “yes, we use agile methods, but not like in the textbook”. This inspired the idea to prepare a book that covers not only methods but the practical application in real-world projects. I also wanted to raise awareness beyond plain software development aspects. Complex change and innovation projects require a wide range of different skills and usually involve many stakeholders. For example HR or legal teams are highly relevant, but often neglected in agile frameworks. I asked experts from my professional network if they want to contribute to such a book project and if they want to share their insights and experiences. I’m very happy with the responses and that we managed to cover so many different aspects of the business. I think it is interesting getting some insights through the perspectives from project professionals with different background. Changing perspective can help for "reflection in action".

Another chapter that might interest a lot of people specially during these time is of Time Management written by Gunter Jeschke. His concept of "bore out" amongst others are interesting where he sees the need for anyone to cut off immediately and look for another position in order to be more efficient with their time. Time management in this chapter doesn’t limit itself to personal and work time management but continues to talk about time management in projects and how to get it done well even when resources are on leave and are leaving.

If you are a hiring manager or often involved with hiring people in your team, Dr. Bernd Thommes chapter on Talent Challenges talks you through of finding the right talent and keeping them. While we all know everyone wants to belong and contribute to something bigger  the hiring manager needs to translate the company objectives into something tangible that hired employees can see as something they can contribute.

In being a book that covers all topics, I was intrigued and surprised by this one by Elena Dinman in the chapter Team and project Management Values, she talks about how in Belarus intrinsic motivation within teams is cultivated. She gives deeper insights into team motivation and a sense of belonging. What I also found very interesting is the “horizontal management” structure  she mentions which encourages any new joiner in the team to go through all the roles within the team and then start on his/her immediate role. This is a take home for any team or individuals who often complaint about team motivation and not having the right cross functionality. The focus is on flexibility and cross functionality. In creating a system to trust human values, she focuses on burnouts, emotions and even how meditation or business yoga brings the team together.

So, what will you like about the book? It’s definitely the different perspectives and attention to details and how each one if their own specialised domain/expertise handle it. 

As the editor also kindly points out The various chapters make it very clear that there are different aspects and not one single answers. However, there are tools and techniques which may help a lot to increase the performance and also the perception of project success. The various chapters cover specific aspects of project business and provide you with the personal opinion of the respective author. I hope that this input enables and encourages the reader to reflect upon the methods in the own organization.


This has definitely been a good read and if you want to check the book out, don't forget to participate in the giveaway. 

All you need to do is join the SIPM facebook community and you can read the full interview with the Editor Tobias Endress. In the comments section of this interview about the book mention why would you like to read this book. On Feb 25, I will announce the winner  and ship you the hard copy of the book (This is for India only). 

If you would like to buy the book, links here.

You have got mail :)

Feb 9, 2021 | 1 comments |

 Hi You,

Just popping by to say hello. 

I know I haven't written in a while and I am guilty in a way to keep you waiting.

I have been writing here for so long that it should come naturally to me. Some days I am not sure what to write, I have more ideas than I can count swimming in my little head. Yet, I write in my head every night :)

I am like you (or not), I tend to procrastinate. I wait and wait a bit more to clarify my ideas and then its just too late to write.

When I started this blog in 2008, I didnt think about anything at all. I just wrote. I didn't think anyone would read this blog, I didn't know if I should even let anyone know. So, in a way I was free. I wrote because it was for me. My learnings, my mistakes, my way of just keeping a simple journal.

So, when I suddenly freeze and stop writing, I am reminding myself I should remember the why. Why I started this blog, this community. I may not be a newbie by definition anymore, yet we are all learning everyday (at least I hope to). 

I hope you have been doing well this year  and getting to do things at your pace. 

Sending you good vibes and warm wishes,

Soma.


Happy New Year 2021

Jan 3, 2021 | 0 comments |

Wishing a very Happy New Year to the SIPM community. 
Stay safe and best wishes



 

(Pic courtesy: Pexel)