Last week was pretty much hectic for me with over 12 hours of workdays clocked in. Within a work-from-home setup, it is so easy to blur the boundaries between work and your personal life, you almost lose a sense of distinction between both. Before you realize it, your work gradually consumes your days, leaving no time for other personal pursuits. Ever felt that? This isn’t a rant post to talk about the perils of being over-ambitious at work. I love my work, but at the same time, I strive to maintain boundaries.
These days I am reading the Happiness Express book written by Khurshed Batliwala and Dinesh Ghodke. The book has very useful knowledge and hacks for your everyday wellbeing. I must say it isn’t like your other self-help books, it’s full of mind-boggling facts about our bodies and why something is the way it is or it isn’t. Subtle humor, personal anecdotes and beautiful illustrations make it unputdownable and I look forward to reading it each day before retiring to bed. I am sharing a few useful hacks from the book which are helping me increase my efficiency at work and live well.
Last week I was editing a technical report on robotics, which is a new subject for me. It was intriguing and I was engrossed in reading it, then one chat notification popped up. Distracted for a few seconds, I ignored it and went back to my reading. Then an email notification popped up and it looked like an urgent message, I had to respond to it right away. I switched to my email and replied to it, then I thought — let me reply to that chat message too, why keep the other person waiting? Bang, boom! my concentration and flow crashed and deflated. When I went back to my report, I took a good amount of time to get into the flow again, in fact, I had to re-read the previous sections. Wasn't multitasking supposed to be a coveted and must-have skill? It didn't help me in this situation, rather I had to put in extra efforts to re-focus my mind on the previous task. The book suggests — do one thing at a time, our brain is not designed to multitask. Multitasking slackens your productivity and eventually compromises your cognitive ability, you end up losing your efficiency when you switch between multiple tasks.
Now, let's look at the importance of sleep. While working late into the night, I felt drowsy and dragged myself through the work just because I couldn’t meet my day’s target. To edit one section, I had to read the same piece at least four times because of my slowing down intellect. When I went back to the file the next day, I could finish the same section faster. Two major reasons for this — the night’s sleep had flushed out toxins from my brain (the book calls it brain shit) and some yoga and meditation in the morning had helped to sharpen my awareness. A good night’s sleep (at least 7-7.5 hrs.) is most important to function well and stay healthy. With too many distractions around, i.e., social media, Netflix, it's easy to stay awake and have the time of your life because YOLO. However, the damage that we to our body by staying up late at night is intense — the book has one chapter fully dedicated to sleep. Moreover, both Khurshed and Dinesh are working on a new book on sleep, can’t wait to read it!
I am still reading the Happiness Express and it has lots of other exciting chapters on food, exercise, memory, mind mapping and the Feynman technique. Very often, we tend to de-prioritize our bodies and ignore its warning alarms. We think we can outsmart nature, but then, later it teaches us lessons one way or the other. The pandemic has in a way forced us to look after our wellbeing, which was much needed. Apart from all the devastation it has caused, it’s been a blessing in disguise too — allowing us to introspect on what matters the most. I will share more as I read the book and will also recommend you to grab your copy, it has a wealth of wisdom packaged in a modern way. You will love reading it!