Thursday, May 8, 2008
Five Steps to Being More Productive
by Penelope Trunk
Posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2007, 12:00AM
One of the best ways to distinguish yourself at work is through productivity. We're all sifting through too much email, we all have more work than we can ever get done, and we all have access to more information than we could ever consume.
The people who make the best decisions about how to process this information quickly and effectively are the people who will stand out in the workplace.
Productivity Is a Skill
It used to be that people went to work from 9 to 5, and if you were serious about your career you worked much longer hours. But few people still aspire to a 9-to-5 job, and most of us use productivity tools to manage our time in a way that facilitates a great personal life and a great work life.
Thousands of people read productivity tips on Lifehacker.com every day of the week, and dissect David Allen's bestselling book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" with the fervor of an English lit student explicating "Ulysses."
Productivity skills are a new measure of career potential, so you need to develop them. Here are five ways to excel at productivity:
1. Do the most important thing first.
Gina Trapani, the editor of Lifehacker.com, calls this a "morning dash." She sits down at her desk and does the No. 1 item on her to-do list so that she knows it's finished.
This requires a lot of prior planning. You need to write an accurate, prioritized list and you need to block out a portion of your morning to accomplish your No. 1 task uninterrupted.
The hardest thing about living by a to-do list is that you have to constantly ask yourself the difficult question, "What's the most important thing to me right now?"
A good to-do list includes long-term and short-term projects, and it integrates all aspects of your life. "Pick out lawn furniture" is on the same list at "go to the board meeting" because both are competing for the same, limited amount of your time.
2. Keep your inbox empty.
Your inbox is not your to-do list; your to-do list is something you compile and prioritize. If your inbox is your to-do list, then you have no control over what you're doing -- you've ceded it to whoever sends you an email next.
Productivity wizards experience less information overload because they deal with an email as soon as they've read it -- respond, file, or delete. Nothing stays in the inbox. Reading each email four or five times while it languishes in your inbox is a huge waste of time, and totally impractical given the amount of email we all receive.
3. Become a realist about time.
You can schedule and schedule and schedule, but it won't do any good unless you get more realistic about time. Develop a sense of who in your life is good at estimating time and who isn't, because you need to be able to compensate for the people who mess up your schedule with poor time estimates.
In general, though, we're all bad at estimating time. We overestimate how much time we have and cope poorly with the fact that what we do with our time changes from day to day. So the first step toward being good at estimating time is to understand your own inherent weaknesses. Then, at least, you can start compensating.
4. Focus on what you're doing so you can do it faster and better.
Most of the time, multitasking doesn't help you. It works for short, repetitive tasks that you're very familiar with. But you don't want to develop good work habits for boring work. You'd probably prefer to stretch your brain and try new things, and that kind of work requires focus.
A wide range of research has shown that even if you can talk on the phone and use email and IM at the same time, multitasking decreases your productivity. Our creative powers are compromised when we multitask.
The other common culprit to focusing is lack of sleep. Some people think they can use caffeine to dull the need for sleep, but it catches up with them. Fortunately, you only need a 10-minute nap to get your brain back on track. And when you're making up for several nights of lost sleep, you don't need to make it all up -- you just need seven hours to get back on your game.
Once you know what's most important to you in all aspects of your life, you'll know what to delegate. And the answer will be almost everything. The hardest part of productivity is admitting that you can't do everything.
In fact, it's the core of what being an adult is -- as a child, everything looks possible. Adults are hit quickly with the cold reality that they can only do what's most important. So be very clear on what that is, and delegate as much of the other stuff as you can.
At work, good delegating doesn't mean dumping your worst tasks on your co-workers. In fact, you often need to delegate your most appealing work and do some of the grunt work yourself. Because in the end, your No. 1 productivity goal is to get what's important done -- it doesn't matter who gets it done, and you're more likely to get a lot of help if you offer your fun stuff.
This holds true for your home life, too -- you can delegate a lot more at home than you think you can without losing the things you care about most.
Productive to the Core
The core of productivity is self-knowledge, which is emotional intelligence.
You have to know what you want most in order to know what to do first, and you have to know your goals before you can productively meet them.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
My friend Pradeep Srajan made a comment few days back "The test doesn't find the bug. A human finds the bug, and the test plays a role in helping the human find it."
A pretty thought that I agree with .........As I believe that a test only becomes an instrument in hands of a human.
Some points to ponder .......
- The first set of tests are created by humans on their interpretation of the requirements
- The tests generated will be towards both positive as well as negetive testing
- The first set of goof ups can start from here itself .......if the tester has not understood the requirements clearly and cannot identify the positive and negetive test sets
- The test set maynot always be exhaustive in nature
These are just the start points for testing.
But what is important to think is that can we accept the fact "to err is human" in the testing community ?
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Some questions ........
- What is crisis ?
- How does that arise ?
- Why does it happen ?
- How do you do crisis management ?
- What are things to be careful about when you are doing project management during crisis in a project.
There can be many forms of project crisis .....
let me start with one ......."dis-satisfied customer"
The biggest point of dissatisfaction comes to a customer when he finds that his requirements / expectations have not been met.
Mitigation action to expectation is little easy to handle. Ensure that SOW (statement of work)/ TO (task order) is very clear and all the do's and dont's are mentioned there in with clear information on procedure for that additional requirement handling.
But still to keep your CSAT high, you need to always know what are the free-bee's that can be provided to the client and how to harp about them.
Problem area : missing on client requirement
Some things that can be done as a PM to ensure no client escalations arise
- Ensure that the complete end to end process is in place
- All checklists are created
- Verify all client requirements personally
- Conduct regular quality and technical audits
- Keep taking a regular feedback from the customer
Problem area : Dynamic and unclear client requirement
The client is unsure of what he needs and what he can achieve in his set up. Their inexperience with the IT set ups are usually the reason for it.
If you encounter a dynamic client, try to figure out who will be the key communicators on their side and the stakeholders. It is very important that at any point of time you and the stakeholders have a good dialogue in operation with no scope left for communication gap of any kind.
It is also important to be honest to the client along with generating revenue for your own company. Try to give the best possible solution to the client that will optimize his requirements and their closures. The confidence that you enjoy as the face of your company from your clients is what will help solve many hidden and unpercieved risks of any project execution.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
What damage can bad managers do to the company and their subordinates .........
I will prefer to open this as a debatable topic and take it to logical conclusion after we have few significant posts here :)
and actually if you look at history of every year you will find that during this time of the year there are many layoff's every year.
Last year also all the Indian big names had a good lay off due to false certificates / bills / etc
Does this show a trend by any chance ?
Yes, the markets are definitely slowing down.
We all know that out project inflows are not steady and strong across the industry. Rupee appreciation is going up .......companies relying on US as main ROI will definitely take some impact.
but my thoughts for food .........this is also appraisal time ........generally people are not satisfied with the appraisal results.....its not the companies to blame but the managers ......I have personally seen how managers can reduce company policies to just exist on paper and take things up on personal whim and fancy .............. and how do they know to politically use it to perfection ........ :)
yes, that is an angular truth that lies here ...... hold down the attrition percentage ......
If an engineer who is thinking to quit n move on but is unsure of the industry trend, might just lie low and stay on and resultant looses one precious year of his career ......
Need some more thoughts to flow ........
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Anyways ........long due writings .......... intend to write something on 'nuances of project management' soon.