Archive for the ‘Balance’ Category

Family time

I work pretty long hours during the week. Even though I strive to do a split schedule of working the morning session and taking the afternoon off to spend with the kids, most of the time it doesn’t work out as expected. I end up running an errand or getting back to work after lunch. And with my scheduled meetings in the night I end up staying very late and the kids go to sleep without me around.

And due to our hectic schedules on weekdays we have planned the classes for the kids for Saturdays. So Saturday is the fun lessons day for my kids. They do singing, piano and ballet. Ad it’s pretty much a full day program. And Sundays are the relaxing day for them. They pretty much have the whole day to themselves and to complete their school homework.

I strive to spend the Saturday with the kids. So no matter how late I stay up on Fridays I am up on Saturday morning to take them to classes. And I enjoy this me and the kids time very much. Today I tagged my son along for a two hour lesson for my daughter. These two hours I usually spend at a car wash getting my car washed, vacuumed and waxed.

So today, my son spent time with me at the car wash watching the car being cleaned. But his interest in cars being washed waned pretty fast. And I had got ready for such eventualities. He loves playing kiddies games on the iPad. Usually, it’s tussle to get his hands on the iPad when his sister is around. Today he enjoyed uninterrupted play time.

Ad I need to work on my patience with the kids. I have a tendency of getting pretty impatient with them when they do not listen to my instructions. I guess they are just being kids and I’m forgetting the fact. In order to make the most out of my time with them, this is one area that I need to improve. I wasn’t a very patient person at any count even previously. But I guess that SOS,etchings need to be improved when you become a father.

I am scared that I will miss out in their growth years and suddenly find them to be all grown up and distant from me, busy with their own lives. I want to be a part of their lives, not just by virtue of being their father but also as the person that teaches them about life, their friend and mentor. I had a pretty good relationship with my own father. I don’t recall doing too many things with him, he was more of an academic person. But he was always there whenever I needed him and he gave me the space that I needed as well. If I can emulate him in those aspects I would be successful as a father.

I also have a DIY streak in me so I try to get my kids involved when I do things around the house. My son was pretty interested my computer upgrade and networking projects around the house. He is also showing a keenness in cycling which I hope will prevail, so he and I can cycle together.

I even bought a book titled “Now that you are a father” to find inspiration in what I can do with the kids. I want to find interesting things to do with them which will be interesting to both me and them, apart from getting them to do homework. Hopefully I will get some inspiration from that book and by googling around.

Read my post on Giving GTD a Try at my other blog more dedicated to personal development.

We are having Internet connectivity problems at work these days. Due to lightning, our network equipment has got damaged and hence we are on a very slow Internet connection.

This slow connection made me realize how dependant I have become on the Internet. Without a speedy Internet connection, I am seriously handicapped. Come to think of it, it is not just Internet that I have come to be dependent on. It is overall connectivity that I have come to depend upon.

I feel seriously lost if I step out of the house without my cell phone. It has become a part of my lifestyle so much I feel insecure without it. More than the incoming calls, I need it in case of an emergency. Not that I have managed to come out of many emergencies thanks to my cell phone. I wonder how my mother does without one.

The Internet too is becoming second nature. If I don’t check my mail for a day, I feel as if something is a miss. It is not that I am expecting anything on the mail. Just that I need to be on top of my mails. I hate to come to my mail box with mails that are several days old and the total running into a few hundred.

There’s another side to emails. You feel a strange loneliness when you haven’t got any mail for a day. But thanks my clients there’s hardly a day that goes without me getting a mail with some lame and sometimes stupid complaint.

What would it be like to spend a week without emails and your cell phone. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to do that while I’m on the job. I am obliged to answer my cell phone as it is a company phone and if I don’t answer my mail within the day I am bound to end up with a few more complaining about the lack of a response.

So has technology made our lives easier or has it made us more connected and tied down and made us slaves to the technology? Can we go home after work and just forget about work? We can’t. If something comes up, we are bound to get contacted over our cell phones. We will have to answer our urgent emails from home. I even work from home over the week ends, responding to client queries and resolving issues.

I think technology has blurred the line between work and private time. We can no longer have a truly private time away from work. If something comes up, by the mere fact that we are connected we will have to respond. So who gets affected? It is our families and the relationships that get affected.

I think we lack a certain level of discipline. Just because we are connected we should not jump to work while you are at home. I had a client once in Singapore who had clearly drawn a line between work time and private time. If you contacted him during off office time even for a small clarification, he would politely tell you that he would answer the query when he gets to work. I think it is a worthwhile discipline or a practice that you should develop, unless of course you are a workaholic.

The ideal Scenario

The ideal scenario out of this connectedness would be an ability to work from home. To have the ability to spend more time at home but still get work done. To be able to remotely work from home. But our mind set and the culture has not come to that stage where our physical presence is not required at work. I think we have not got used to working in that fashion.

But the good news is we are getting there fast. I have seen geographically dispersed project teams working on projects using collaboration tools and thier productivity is no less than them being on the same room.

Taking time off 

I want to take my annual leave for at least 10 days at a stretch and be away from my emails and cell phone during that time. I will dedicate all my time to spend with my family and maybe do some reading. That will be some holiday.

Now if I can sort things that are pending so I can actually go on that holiday…

 

It was nice to be home on a Sunday without having to worry about any work. I did have a lot of work piled up for this week (which I am tackling right now), I made a decision to not to worry about them, as I needed to give myself a break and to spend some time with family.

I have been spending time with my family but during the last week, I was pretty much drained out by the time I went home. Which left me falling asleep and hardly spending anytime with the baby. So I needed to properly spend time with them, by being there with the body, mind and soul. Not just physically. My wife was also getting annoyed with me for not spending any quality time with them (her and the baby).

So I spent the Sunday, just playing around with the baby. Meddling with my computer as it had crashed the day before and looking for a car to buy. I guess I managed to spend time on all activities, but this time, I managed to spend the time on it without my mind bothering about something else. I think finishing the PMP exam was one heck of a relief!

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I was listening to an audio book of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and one saying had a powerful impact on me. He said that the best way to get in control of yourself immediately is to make a promise and work towards keeping it. And the other is to set a goal and work towards achieving it. That put’s you in total control of your life immediately. The sense of control is immediate.

In order to set the goals that really makes sense in the long run, we must work on the first two values in the value chain that Covey describes, accepting the fact that we are resonsible for our lives (Be Proactive) and setting goals that are congruent with what we intend to achieve out of our lives (Begin with the end in mind). Once we work on internalizing these habits we will slowly get a good feeling of what we are and where we want to go. This will help us set our goals congruent with our personal mission.

But making promises and keeping them is something that we can start off immediately. Covey suggests two great promises that we can make. We need to think about one activity that will make a significant change in your personal life if done consistently and well. Similarly one activity that will have a significant impact on our professions. Then the promise is to attend to it.

If you are able to identify this one activity, and if you consistently do this activity, day in and day out, every day, once you are done with it or while doing it, you will feel a powerful sense of control over yourself. You will feel totally in control, you know what you do is going to make a difference in your personal or professional life and you know you are doing it to the best of your ability.

This is a concept that is very valid. We are conditioned to think in terms of accomplishments and we spend a lot of our time, locked in tasks that we absolutely are not enjoying. We do these tasks targeting a goal and we forget to live each day in the process.

I wrote on this topic a few weeks earlier as well, but at that point I was concentrating on finding enjoyment in everyday tasks. But another thought hit me. What if we populate our days with things that we enjoy doing? What if we do things that we like doing and set our goals in such a way, that they are achievable by doing tasks that we enjoy doing. Doing that will help us come up with goals that are more congruent with the tasks that we enjoy, and the goals itself will be more congruent with our inner self.

There are a few basic things that you need to set in order to have a good day everyday. If you are stuck in a job that you hate, or hate your boss or your co-workers, I don’t think you will be successful in having a good day. If that is the case, then may be you should look for a change. I know this personally because for a while I was in a job that I absolutely hated. It was such a relief to change that job and I found an immediate increase in my happiness levels and effectiveness. So find a job that would mean something for you. According to Stephan Covey a person looks to fulfil 4 aspects through their work, body/mind/mental/spiritual. Look for a job that fulfils all four aspects for you.

If you find this job, then that will solve a greater part of the equation for you. After finding this job, or converting your job to fulfil these aspects you need to look at ways to convert your tasks to enjoyable tasks. Some of the things like doing small tweaks to your environment, etc will help in some ways. You can find tips for these in Steve Pavlina’s article here. Here Steve actually speaks of ways in which you can get more enjoyable tasks done in a day. I guess you can take that as a guide and come up with a list of things that you may like to include in your day. A few things that I enjoy having each day is the time that I spend with my family, specially my wife. I enjoy the time I spend driving to and from work with her. This is our private time that we talk about a lot of things.

In the mornings we talk of what we intend to do in the day and the evening ride is spent talking about how the day went off. This time is very important as it is the time that we spend on strengthening our relationship, finding out what’s going on in each others work lives. This also frees up our evening for deeper level of communication!

In my view it is far more productive to enjoy the process rather than to focus  on the end result. If you are going to spend the majority of your time locked in things that you don’t enjoy for a few minutes of glory, you should really question the rationale behind your thinking. Your life is essentially the combination of all that time, not just a few moments of glory. So is it really worthwhile to sacrifice your life for a few moments of glory?

I came across this article by Steve Pavlina on creating a relaxing environment in your work space in order to achieve a higher level of productivity. I was able to immediately resonate with this article as it reminded me of how tensed up I was feeling in a somewhat cramped workspace sometime ago.

I remember on the first day in an earlier job I was given a desk which was painted a dull gray and it was pretty cramped in a cramped room. I could not figure it out in the beginning, but I was putting an effort to be happy and enthusiastic on that job from day one. That affected my performance and also my stay in that company was short-lived.

Pavlina suggests some creative ideas about personalizing your workspace. Although some of those ideas may be hard to apply in a corporate environment, specially if you are sharing an office room with other persons, some would be pretty easy to apply and would create a more personalized environment.

To me, the main reason for personalizing my desk is to make office enjoyable and engaging. I want my desk to reflect my personality. If you are in a new job you may not want to decorate your desk on day one. Instead, you may take some time to do it. But in any case, it is a good idea to either adapt the environment according to you or to adopt according to the environment.

Here is the article on Relaxifying your workspace.

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I have been having this image on my desktop because the moment I read it, it touched a very deep vein. And I realized that if this moment is not enjoyed we are never going to be happy, ever!
I remember a piece of advice that my father gave me long time back while I was back in school. He told me, that I should live my life in a way such that anytime you stop and look back, you should not have any regrets for things you have done and things you have not done. I never really understood the true meaning of this until I saw the above.

I was browsing Steve Pavlina’s blog after a long time today and here it was, a post where he talks about living the present moment, called The Power of Now. Well is it a synchrocity or not I don’t know, but it sure is a sign that is telling me that I should concentrate more on enjoying the present moment.

The way I see it enjoying the present moment has a lot to do with being contend with what you have. Either you are happy with what you are and have or you learn to be happy. My religious teaching tells me to find happiness with what is already there. And I never realized that it did not mean that we should not be ambitious, but rather it tells us to enjoy the present moment and not to leave living your life until your ambitions are achieved.

Reading Steve’s post opned my eyes a bit more. That is why I thought of sharing the news through this hoping it will help more people. When you hear the good news, you should share it!

This is a very interesting post on the Fast Company Blog.

Can you honestly answer this question? When was the last time you can remember you not thinking about your business? Work? Or whatever that we are pursuing?

I was personally thinking very hard to remember this moment. But honestly, I could not think of a moment that work, or projects that I am involved in, were not hovering over my mind. Even if I was involved in something else, things to be done, to be completed were on the back of my head and I was never really free from the tasks.

I am sure the companies that we work for will like it, but is this the life we really want. We are so engrossed on the results, we forget to enjoy the process or to take a proper break? I always had a policy of leaving work at office, but lately, the other projects that I am involved in were taking up my free time. SO I am left with no free time, and my sub-conscious mind always working!

Heck, I need to change this pattern, before this hunger totally consumes me! I have a very important phase in my life coming up and I want to be completely involved in that. So let me put the work and projects aside, and try to be fully involved in these activities. I want to take a break in my pursuits and enjoy the moment. As it is said, I wanna enjoy the ride, not just the destination. For all I know, I may never really ‘arrive’, as the destination keeps changing, as the world changes!

There is a post with the above title in Steve Pavlina’s blog. This is a very interesting article. Also, this article re-iterates the points I have made based on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Steve’s article is like a summary of these three habits: Be Proactive, Begin With the End In Mind, and First Things First.

Steve starts off by making the point that if we do not make a conscious decision on what we do with our lives, we will end up living a life that is handed over to us. This is exactly the same point that Covey makes to drive the importance of being proactive and to begin with the end in mind. Basically, Covey’s first two habits drive the points: I am the creator, and I write the script of my life.

In Steve’s post he says that as we grow in consciousness we will ask ourselves the question, “what the heck am I going to do with my life?”. In Covey’s literature, Covey encourages the reader to find the answer to this question by practicing the habit of beginning with the end in mind. If you have come to the stage of asking yourself this question, after reading Steve’s posts I suggest you pick up 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and read it thorough.

As a first step Steve suggests that we try to understand the reality as accurately as possible. This is very similar to Covey’s habit of being proactive. The idea that Steve presents is very similar to the idea presented by Covey on Principles, values and beliefs.

In his post Steve questions us whether we are passionate about our lives right now? This is a very important question that we must get right. I have seen too many people who living thier lives for a moment that is to come in the future. They have put away their passion, happiness and content to the future. They are sacrificing their present for an unseen future. It is essential that what ever that you are doing right now, you are passionate about it. Live each day and each moment passionately. Whatever your purpose in life, it has to make sense to your life, right NOW!

Then comes the question: does your purpose make sense in the long run. This is the very question Covey asks his readers at the start of begin with the end in mind chapter in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you think at the end of your life and think, where you want to be, what you would want to achieve and the purpose of life that would make sense to you, then at the actual end of your life, you would not regret a living your life, the way you did. It is essential that we evaluate each action we take, each response, with the end in mind. By doing so, your actions will be congruent with your values and principles. So at the end, you will look back at your life and get a feeling of “I did my best!”, and leaves you at peace with yourself.

So if you see yourself coming to an end, then it is better for you to get out of it as early as possible and change directions. If your current job is not heading towards the future that you want to have, then change it now. AS Steve says, if you are happy even if your life end this moments, if you don’t have any regrets of things that you should have done, then you are on the right track. If not, work on eliminating those disappointments as early as possible.

The third question that Steve poses is whether our purpose makes sense at different levels of consciousness. This is the rational behind Coveys suggestion to base our center of principles. Because, as we develop our consciousness, we may change our beliefs and our values. But the correct principles are changeless. So, if our purpose is based on principles, then as our conscience grow, our core will remain unchanged, because they were based on the correct principles from the beginning. Because our values and beliefs were based on a changeless, solid foundation. 

Finally Steve asks the question what happens to our purpose after our death? It is an interesting questions because very rarely that we think of existence of our purpose after our existence ceases. But if our purpose exceeds our physical existance, then we have given our purpose an immortal standing. If there are people who are willing to carry forward our purpose, after our death, and they are doing it through tier own convictions and free-will, then our purpose has exceeded human potential and has reached noble dimensions. If your legacy survives after your extinction, then your life has reached immortal dimensions.

Read this post. It is a very thought provoking post. And it will actually simulate your mind to seek the purpose of your life.

Okey, I have come up with a personal mission statement. If I keep this till I prefect this, I may never publish it. So I thought about just going ahead and putting it on here. So if I do make changes, I will add a new version. Anyway, I think publishing it is like officially adopting this as my creed! So, I am making a commitment to it.

Personal Mission Statement of Sampath Dassanayake:

  • I will be a light, not a judge.
  • Succeed at home first – I will love my family unconditionally and will be available.
  • Excel at work – I will give 100% to the job at hand, without worrying about the next promotion or the job.
  • Be proactive –  I will act before being acted upon. I will be my own creator.
  • I will create my own destinity (Begin with the end in mind)
  • I will organize my life around deepest priorities. (First things first)
  • I will seek a win/win solution at all times.
  • I will seek to understand and then be understood.
  • I will look for Synergy in life.
  • I will work on balanced renewal of physical, mental, spriritual and social dimentions of my life.
  • I will develop at least one onew proficiency a year.
  • I will not fear mistakes nor failures. But I shall never forget the lesson.
  • I will work towards becoming financially independent.
  • I will keep my expenses within my earnings. I shall not get into debt beyond my earning capacity.

I have also created another mission statement around the current roles that I play. Here it is:

Roles and Goals:

  • Individual – Myself is my greatest asset. I will seek balanced renewal of my spiritual, mental, physical, emotional and social dimentions of my life.
  • Husband – My wife is my companion and best friend. I will be honest and true to her and will love her unconditionally and will accept her for who she is.
  • Son – I will love and care for my parents to the best of my ability.
  • Brother -I will be there for him as a friend whenever he needs me.
  • Employee – I will give my best to the job at hand without worrying about the next job or promotion.
  • Entreprenuer – I will work towards achieving my entrepreneurial dreams.
  • Teacher – I wil share my knowledge freely and willingly.

 

Get A Life!

I ran across an interesting article on Fortune called Get A Life!. It is an interesting and provocative article which sheds some light on how a few selected companies are trying to strike a balance between their top employees work and their personal lives.

It is interesting because the current norm in thinking is that you have to work 10-15 hours a day in order to prove that you are a top producer in your company. This norm is a proponent of working hard over working smart. Even if you work smart and manage to finish your tasks you will find more work on you table the next day. This in turn turns people away from working smart.

For a while I have been trying a strike a balance between my personal life and my professional life. I value my personal time as much as I value my professional time. One of the main reasons that I work is to support a quality personal time with my loved ones. Though I have achieved that target, I often it is at the expense of my professional life, because I choose to let go of some star assignments because it will cost me my personal life.

But the article speaks about a few examples where a few companies have re-designed some jobs in order to allow the employees to have a better work-life balance. I liked one quote in the article which read “Companies need to be 24/7, not the employees.”

And another fact we face in Sri Lanka is the emerging super economies of the region, India and China have a work ethic of 18 hour days. And us being the tiny neighbor, we are trying to compete by overdoing them. And laments comparing our hours with that of theirs are very common. Is our approach correct? One good example is in this article itself, where it compares the work ethics of three teams in India, China and Hungary. And it boils down to the approach that each team had taken towards the work.

So the question still remains. Are we willing to do whatever it takes reach the top? What is the price that we are willing to pay? I for one, don’t want to be the next Bill Gates or Jack Welch. Instead of reaching the top and drawing a 7 figure salary and missing out on my kids growing up years or sharing my life with my wife, I would rather draw a salary that will sustain my family and share those moments. But that would mean that I may miss out on some opportunities out there. But if I let my life go by, there’s way that I can pull it back. I do not want to wake up one day, all alone in a big house with a swimming pool. I’d rather wake up in a humble bed, with my wife next to me, to the shouting of my kids!

Last week I made a decision. I decided to let go of a very lucrative part time job inorder to spend more time with my family, i.e. my wife.

My offer was to work online everyday from 9.00 PM to Midnight for a US based client. ANd the pay was very good compared to Sri Lankan salaries. But the tradeoff was it was the time of the day that I had for my wife.

I tried it for a couple of weeks. The pay was good, I could see a lot of money coming my way. But we hardly got any time together. Had no time to take her out, even to go shopping after work or to go out for dinner. I had to rush back home and log in by 9.00.

The result was I was always tensed up everytime I got caught to a traffic jam on the way home from work and my wife had to do all the things by her slef, so everywhere by her self. This was not something we were used to doing. We were used to doing things together. And we were missing each other even though we were in the same room.

So I quit the job. Now I may have lost my additional income stream. But I have got back something much more valuable. Time spent together with the person that I love most!