27 July, 2017 13:07

Me hand-washing my plates after lunch.

Colleague A: you don’t use the dishwasher?
Me: Nope, I don’t believe in it.
Colleague A: you think it conspires some theories?
Colleague B: it used to be my job for a while. I sat in there.

* * *

Me: how tall are you?
Colleague: 6″2′
Me looking up what 6″2′ is in cm: ah 1.93. Let me tell my husband.
Colleague: are you guys planning to kidnap me? Let me know so I can say goodbye to my friends.

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Why am I doing Smart Seeds?

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Someone asked me about that after he learnt that I’m currently working full time and doing a master’s degree part time, “Why are you also doing this (Smart Seeds)?”. I felt being put on the spot at that moment so I gave a really lame answer.

Now at this very wee hour, with the luxury of a quiet late night, I contemplate this question “Why am I doing Smart Seeds?”. Here’s what I reckon:

  • I have never taken part in an innovation programme of this scale so I want to experience it.
  • This is going to give me the experience of
    • stepping outside of my comfort zone,
    • working on something that’s bigger than me and my capability,
    • getting to work with a bunch of people in other industries that I would not otherwise have a chance to work with,
    • getting to learn from other industries through working on a project which of course, I would not otherwise have any chance to.
  • Again, an opportunity like this is not popping up often enough.
  • I put my time and thoughts into the application, of course, I will follow it through upon being selected.
  • This gives me a chance to be “out of the office” and have a wider perspective.

Handling more work

To start, note which of the four p’s holds the most opportunity for development. Find that section and pick one strategy (or more) to implement. Be willing to experiment. Make adjustments until you determine the strategies that really help you claim your time. And don’t give up — you owe it to yourself to have the time and energy for the activities and people that matter most.

PLANNING

Planning is about using structure and rituals to stay organized. Consider how you relate to structure and ritual in general. Do you enjoy processes? If so, you’ll be excited to try new ideas. Or do you cringe at the thought of too much routinization? If that’s the case, then find the balance of just enough structure without feeling bogged down in it. Below are organizing strategies and rituals that can yield fast, tangible results.

• Schedule power hours. Align your energy with things that require focus. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Block out two to three 90-minute blocks (“power hours”) on your calendar each week during your most productive times. You may end up scheduling over these blocks, but you have a better shot at keeping them if you’ve consciously put them on your calendar. If you work on weekends to catch up, use the same idea of power hours to set up guardrails between the personal and the professional. Go to a private room or close your door during power hours.

• Use look-ahead rituals. As your role gets bigger or your life gets more complex, it gets harder to work and live without more intentional planning. Looking-ahead rituals can build space into your schedule. On an annual basis, populate your calendar with future vacation blocks, key events, doctor’s appointments, etc. Get in the habit of scanning for upcoming travel, key deliverables, or especially intense periods every month or every week. For a daily scan, look ahead and pick one meeting for which a little prep work will go a long way.

• Be explicit about white space. When a free hour emerges, all too often we fritter it away or we’re paralyzed by all the possibilities of what we could do — and then we kick ourselves later for not using the time well. So decide in advance how you want to use free time. Create two lists of free-time activities: a “Productive White Space” list and a “Restorative White Space” list. When choosing an activity from the list, ask yourself: How much time do I have? What is realistic to accomplish? What would be most satisfying?

PEOPLE

People is about how you relate to others. Are the people in your life a source of positive energy, motivation, and support? Or do they drain your time and energy? Below are some tools for increasing the support you receive from others while also setting clear boundaries and reducing the amount of energy you spend on interpersonal issues.

• Create a delegation table. Explicitly map out who owns what on your team, since job titles don’t always make it obvious. Have a one-page snapshot you can look at so you’re less tempted to jump in and do things yourself. Let go of the need to control, and work to shift accountability to others. Your delegation table can include activities and requests both at work and at home.

• Know your confidants. The old adage “it’s lonely at the top” is true. Who acts as a sounding board when you need to think out loud? Who is the best cheerleader when you need a pep talk? Build a network of support, and your daily life will be a lot easier. Read more about finding the right people to help you achieve your goals here.

• Say no, but enforce boundaries with grace. As you grow in your career, things you once agreed to do (or even enjoyed doing) may become interruptions or drags on your time. Don’t put up a wall when saying no. Be gracious and acknowledge the person asking. Say something like, “I appreciate you reaching out,” “It’s so good to see you,” or “I hear your sense of urgency.” Be clear about your boundaries while showing that you want to find the best solution to the problem: “It would be better for Steve to resolve this, as he’s closer to the issue” or “You’ll get a speedier outcome by going to Kate on my team.”

PRIORITIES

Priorities is about intentionally deciding how to spend your time. Consider how you feel about prioritization in general: Are you ruthless about what matters most? Or do you love keeping your options open? The tough thing about time is that it is finite. Accept that you have to make choices.

• Take a trend-line view. The phrase “work-life balance” inherently sets us up to fail because no day can be perfectly balanced. So take a trend-line view. Reflect on the past six months or the past year. Rather than thinking of things as being in competition with each other, look at all the parts of yourself that you’ve gotten to express. Do you feel satisfied with the way you’ve allocated time to different areas of your life? Perhaps you’re doing pretty well but need to work on accepting the peaks and valleys. Or maybe something is wildly off and it’s time to name the issue and do something about it. A quick way to get an overview of time allocation is to color-code your calendar. Assign a different color to the 3–5 domains you want to track. Conduct periodic reviews to see if the colors are distributed the way you think they should be to achieve satisfaction and performance.

• Use a snapshot or scorecard. Write down what matters most to you. Laminate your list, and then carry it in your bag or post it next to your computer as a reminder of your priorities. Engaging in a lot of activity does not always mean doing work that is meaningful and adding value Speaker and author Pat Lencioni talks about having a “rallying cry”: a thematic goal that answers the question, “What is most important right now?” Within the context of an organization’s goals, it’s usually the one at the top of the list. Check out The Advantage for work and The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family for home.

• Name the trade-off you’ve chosen. Once you’ve made a decision to say yes to something, name the trade-off that inevitably comes with that choice. Owning when you say yes and no will make you feel less like a victim and give you a greater sense of personal power and choice.

BEING PRESENT

Being Present means paying attention to the people in front of us, focusing on the tasks at hand, and managing our emotions in the moment. It requires us to notice and tolerate feelings of discomfort so that we don’t engage in reactive patterns of distraction, perfectionism, procrastination, or rumination. Mindfulness is a popular strategy that I support. Other tips for increasing your ability to be present include the following.

• Accept and then act. Having trouble doing the less enjoyable things on your to-do list? Write down one thing you are resisting or procrastinating on. Now, accept that you need to do it. Say to yourself: “I know I don’t like to do this, but I am wasting energy resisting it. I accept the discomfort and the responsibility.” As with exercising — a challenge for many of us — the first 15 minutes are the hardest and require that we tolerate discomfort before getting into a flow. Acceptance does not mean being complacent. It’s exactly the opposite: Accepting the difficulty diffuses our angst and frees up our energy to do something about it.

• Give yourself permission. Have you finally gotten to the gym or done something nice for yourself, only to find that you couldn’t enjoy it because of the guilt you felt from being away from the office or your family? It’s important to recognize, name, and tolerate the discomfort of guilt. Notice it and remind yourself that your own self-care is important. As you give yourself permission more often, you may need to renegotiate with others. Let them know when you are or are not available or ask explicitly for their support.

• Set a statute of limitations on people frustrations. Ruminating, fuming, or burning energy on tension with others? Set an explicit time limit for being frustrated. When the time is up, stop and shift to a more constructive action. Having negative conversations with yourself in your head, gossiping with others, or venting only drains precious energy. Go have a direct conversation, make a request, or make the conscious choice that it’s not a battle worth fighting right now.

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coffee affair

I’ve been drinking coffee more than usual lately. Actually, my mind has been always occupied with stuff lately. If it’s not about work, it’s study, or IY, or just many other things. People problems – it all comes down to that.

I figure I have been feeling upset today. A small thing happened in the day; however, it was resolved in the end. Now that the universe has gone asleep and I’m dealing with the delayed processing of bottomed-up emotions, thoughts start to kick in. Was I unreasonable? Was I not cooperative? Was I misunderstood? Was I not supported? Was I inheriting stress from others? Was I being shitty? Was I not understanding? Was I selfish? Was I not managing things properly? Was I too OCD? Was I not managing my own expectations? Was I asking for too much? Was I not able to put it to rest? Was I too much about myself?

Why am I even thinking about this? I accept that dealing with my own self is part of the process. Moving on – always easier said than done.

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Meeting 101 #workWednesday

Good read.

Take aways:

😴 Kill the status meeting
👯 Hold one-on-one meetings sacred
📅 Every meeting must have a single owner
📋 Share the purpose of the meeting and agenda ahead of time
👑 Your calendar doesn’t make you important
☔️ Calendars shouldn’t postpone decisions
👥 Keep meetings small
💸 Consider the opportunity cost of every meeting
🌳 Treat other people’s calendars as a scare resource
🚨 Escalate, don’t 🔪undermine
⌛️ If the meeting is over, end the meeting
🔥 Declare calendar bankruptcy

PITA

Why do some people (not all), right before when they are leaving, suddenly become such fucking pains in the ass?

What’s even more bizarre is other people can acknowledge that shitty attitude as an obvious normal behaviour because they are leaving.

Man, XYZ’s work is so floppy. Plus his attitude has been bad.

Well, he’s leaving. He doesn’t care anymore.

Also, Friday used to be my favourite day. Not anymore now.

Anyways, here’s a picture of my CoffeeCeption #youSeeIt?

morning coffee

I was just about to make my coffee this morning when a colleague rushed over to make her coffee.

I gave way to her and she did a single shot. For some reason, she didn’t want it, or she might have explained it otherwise but it was too noisy down at the basement that I couldn’t get what she was trying to do.

She made another coffee and I said ‘alright I’ll take this single shot one’.

I frothed some milk and pour it in, kind of expecting the coffee would turn out to be bland and totally not drinkable. In fact, it was so pleasant. And nice.

Thinking about it, I have had double shot coffee for the whole one year. I had never thought of trying the single shot. And, I would not find out about the single shot if I didn’t take my colleague’s unwanted coffee today.

What else do I not know or try these days?

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the day i went away

It’s almost a year now since I got myself and my stuff out of SIA / CCB.

Six months in CCB were those of hard work, extreme pressure, learnings, perseverance, a whirlwind of emotions and of course some precious friendships. No doubt it was the best 6 months I have ever had in my career. They said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I think I got a tad tougher walking out of the complex.

so far

I haven’t blogged that much recently, compared to a few months back.

The main reason is perhaps due to the increasing workload after the fellow producer left his position. For two months – also the peak period, I was doing 2.5 people’s work – really busy at day, too tired at night. Good thing is a new producer has come and so the workload has become much more manageable.

Then, we were busy house-hunting.

Then, I took the plunge to sign up for a Master’s degree. The programme coordinator confirmed my place at 9PM on Friday and the first class started the following Monday.

Once in a while I read about someone else writing about their personal happening, I’m urged to do the same.

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