[5-Bullet Tuesday] Is “Work” Taking Your Life Away?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

What’s I’m pondering: 

According to Fast Company, Barack Obama, when he was the President, always wore the same thing – a blue or black suit. This was part of his secret to getting so much done.

He wanted to leave his mind saved from Decision Fatigue, which happens when you use your mind for trivial decisions such as what to eat, wear, buy… This let him focus effectively when the time came for more important decisions to be made.

Some of you may find this idea extreme, but the point is that we must do something to pare down decisions as decision making during the day add up and cause us fatigue.

So, whether or not our offices are oval, we need to find ways to reduce getting fatigued making unnecessary decisions during the day.

As Obama says:

“You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

Read here for more of Obama’s productivity secrets.

What I figured–

“My boss is unnecessarily complaining about my work. It’s painful!”

“My boss asks me to do the things exactly as he wants. Why can’t he understand that I’m not him?”

“I am sitting idle since last 2 weeks since I have joined the team. I feel so unwanted!”

These are some real life dialogues from my interaction with people just last week. Most people in the corporate world are unhappy with their work life. And since work life is a large part of your overall life, they’re unhappy in their life in general too!

Lot of them don’t even realise that something is going seriously wrong with them, until they have developed serious anxiety issues, stress or even depression.

So, here is a system to know your Happiness Score, based on the 5 keys to being joyful at work (French: joie de travailler).

Rate yourself on a scale of one to five on each of the following happiness keys :

  1. Freedom– If your boss wants you to do something “exactly like he wants!“, it doesn’t look like a place where you are getting enough creative freedom. Moreover, you don’t know what’s in his mind. The only way I can create something exactly like someone else wants is when I am him, which is usually not the case!

Reviews and feedback is alright, and is required for improving the deliverable further, but there is a thin line of difference between constructive feedback and forcing someone to become someone they are not! This thin line is quite significant to determine your happiness score.

  1. Connectedness–Being connected to people in the team and outside too openly is important to your being.

If your boss or team culture discourages talking to people from other teams, there is a problem.

You should be able to talk to everyone without any fear, openly. You should be able to bring up the ‘elephants in the room’, without mincing words.

Are you able to discuss matters of significance with your team? Connectedness is a human need and plays a key role in our happiness levels.

  1. Interesting Work– “Just do it because I say so!“,says your boss.  Well, that’s not what makes the work meaningful.

I want to know the reason why we’re doing it, what value I am adding to whom in the process. The bigger picture of the impact my work creates to a larger cause to the society, community or industry is what determines whether the work will be interesting to me or not.

  1. Being of use– “I am on the team for two weeks without anyone asking me to do anything!“. This is commonplace at work, and it creates havoc in the minds of people who are sitting idle.

We humans enjoy being useful. We may not believe it but it is true. If you’re sitting doing nothing, it’s not at all a good news. It is a serious cause for concern. Take some action if that’s the case or even quit such a job. Believe me, you’d be better off.

  1. Well Balanced Life– “I come back so late that I don’t see my children during weekdays!” Well, is that worth it? I don’t think so.

Listening to some light music, yoga or exercise, morning prayer with family, reading something different, attending to family functions and conferences, pursuing hobbies, spending time with family, making memories.. those things ought to be part of our life too.

Well, now that you have rated yourself on 1-5 on each of the above parameters, add up your individual scores and determine your Overall Happiness Score. If your score is between:

  • 5 – 12: Situation is alarming and you need to take some steps today. It could be as drastic as moving out of the project, organisation or even that career.
  • 13-18: It’s concerning but you can possible do something to increase the score. Look at the areas where you are really low and see what can be done to address those areas.
  • 19-25: Congratulations! You’re doing well. Your life is under control. All you have to do is manage your scores.

If you’re wondering, “What about Money? Fame? Parties? .. Don’t they bring happiness?”

Well, most of these would bring instant but temporary happiness, which often leads to long term distress. Of course we need money to sustain ourselves, but beyond a certain point, money won’t add to one’s happiness. For lasting joy, one must focus on things beyond these material things.

What I’m watching—

It was Thursday and a rather stressful day at work, but I dared to shoo away the stress and watch this comedy play on the way back home.

Bawarchi Diaries” at Akshara Theater.

It was of course a tough call to attend because the office pressures always have a tendency to dominate our lives and keep us away from things we know will relax us and bring our focus back.

I’m so glad I attended. In fact, I figured that if you’re just heads down into work, you are losing out on the varied perspectives which off-track experiences like watching a play can bring.

Particularly, this one was an out and out comedy, about a cooking maid, Rajkumari, who goes to different apartments and encounters some quirky residents in each one of them. From a modern day father-son duo obsessed  with Mahabharat, to a man who speaks only in songs and advertisements, each apartment has crazy residents who drive Rajkumari mad.

If you missed it, don’t sulk. It’s happening again on 28th Sept (Saturday) at Akshara Theater. Tickets are available at venue. (Akshara Theater Phone: 011 2336 1075). Live it up!

(Lucky to have clicked the poster with one of the artists from the same play, Harshit Pahwa)

Quote I’m pondering —

In the classroom, the teacher had asked the little 5 year old John Lennon, “What do you want to be when you grow up?

His reply, “Happy!

Teacher said, “You didn’t understand my question, John.”

to which John said, “You don’t understand life, Teacher!”

What I’m re-reading–

Sometimes we feel so consumed with work and end up missing the little pleasures of life. Reading my own article from a couple years back was a pleasant reminder of that.

The question to ask ourselves is: Are we paying attention and looking for opportunities to change a simple, run of the mill kind of day into one that becomes a lifetime memory?

 Look for windows of opportunities that could change a usual day into a lifetime memory. If you look carefully, you will find them.                                                                                                                                                                                         

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