• Leadership,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    The Pen is Luxurious Than the Keyboard

    This year I have made a commitment – I will be more accountable to myself. I found a paper notebook is helping me in this regard. Every day/week I am jotting down what I want to focus on, what my intention is and how I am doing.  A paper and pen is definitely not the state of the art personal productivity tool but surprisingly enough it is helping me to be more mindful about my time. I now have more clarity about where I am with respect to my bigger goals (also written/drawn on a paper).  I wonder, what is the point on going back to a non-tech solution when I…

  • productivity,  Success Strategy,  Time Management

    Too Many Emails? Some Real Causes and Solutions

    In the corporate world, people often complain about too many emails. It is a modern-day challenge for sure, however, over the years I have noticed a few underlying causes and possible solutions for this common symptom. Introverts feel more pain Emails and meetings (add social media to the list) are other forms of people interaction (like big gatherings) that exhausts the introverts more. As an introvert you have developed strategies to survive in other social situations, why not get creative for this one! It’s a self-management challenge There are quite a few ways emails can be organized, filtered, searched and marked for follow-ups. How open are you to try those? If…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    Fulfilling Achievements are Good, Experiences are Even Better

    I often ask this question to my clients and class participants: Describe some occasions from the recent past when you felt excited and fulfilled. The common responses I get are, “when I graduated college”, “got my dream job”, “had my last promotion”, “had my baby”…. Interesting to note, the “recent past” part gets ignored easily. Another observation, all those listed are mostly focused on achievements and not on the activity or the experience of doing something. You can ask me why this is a problem. The problem is when we are only focusing on achievements, we need to wait (sometimes long) for those to happen again for us to be…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    Don’t Focus on the Problem – Focus on your Ultimate Vision

    Last year, an engineer, let me call him Tom, came to me. He looked very tired and unhappy. “Sharmin, I am working long days, late nights, still my manager wants me to do more, have more impact, show more leadership…where is the time…why can’t he see my contribution already! With changes going around all the time it is so hard to get anything done on time. I even wanted to change this job, but in this economy, it is so hard to get an interview even!” – Tom gave me quite a vivid picture of his life. I felt compassion for him. Not too long ago I experienced this first…

  • Living from inside out
    Happiness,  Leadership,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    How are you setting your goals, Inside-out or Outside-in?

    Last week I was describing the concept of “Living from inside-out” to my class participants in a high tech company. The example I gave – If you target to become a VP of a company that is an “outside-in” way of seeing your goal. The “inside-out” approach could be – I want to innovate, drive a product (what kind?) that I care (fill in here with why you care…) and I am willing to take risks, sacrifice my comfort to make it a success (define it using your values). Basically you are defining your intention qualitatively; you are not attached to a certain form of it. There is a good…

  • productivity,  Stress Management

    Feeling overwhelmed? You might be overloading your PFC

    Do you often feel overwhelmed? Do you wonder why it happens? Understanding how our brain works might give you some ideas. The part of the brain behind our forehead is called the prefrontal cortex(PFC). PFC is a tiny part compared to the rest of the brain (where permanent memory resides, in the form of patterns). PFC mainly performs executive functions (processing, analysis, decision making, etc.). PFC needs lots of energy to function, not only that, at a time it can handle only a few pieces of information, e.g., three numbers at a time. For example, think about a ten-digit phone number, when you have it like 4258234417 VS 425-821-4417, notice, which format is easier for you…

  • productivity,  Success Strategy,  Time Management

    Too many to-dos… Not enough time…Cause or Symptom?

    My friend Amy calls herself lazy as she is always running behind her infinitely long to-do list. Even when she is sitting down she feels guilty that she was supposed to do something useful.  She says sorry a zillion times as she frequently cancels our coffee/phone chats at the last moment. Seeing her hyperactivity makes me feel underperformed:). I have been wondering why we are always behind despite all the hard work? Why she feels compelled to say “Yes” to every request? Recently found some answer from this article. Saying “Yes” 1. Avoids conflicts 2. Takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not the request is truly important 3. Feels…

  • productivity,  Success Strategy

    A Baby step isn’t just for the Babies

    In my 1:1 coaching and group classes, I have been teaching this concept from TED on how to create your own vision (what do you want) and design baby steps to take you closer to that vision.  A baby step is not just the execution; the idea, the planning, even as simple as carving out a solid 30 min from your busy day to think about your vision could be a baby step. A baby step gives you more clarity about your vision; it gives you added experience and learning. Even when you fail, a conscious baby step always takes you closer to realizing your vision. Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said…

  • EQ,  Happiness,  productivity,  Success Strategy,  Time Management

    Katherine’s Time Management Dilemma and the Power of TED

    This morning on my way to walk I saw my neighbor Katherine in her signature pink sweatshirt. Both of us were glad to have a company for the walk. The weather was exceptionally nice for a Seattle morning; the temperature was on the upper 40’s and the sky was clear with the golden rays of sun sparkling on the 84th avenue, my usual walking route. After a small talk, I asked Katherine how she was doing in making time for the new part-time job she started recently.  “I am not there yet, I need to start making some boundaries for all my responsibilities, my work, my children, my parents…” she started.…

  • productivity,  Success Strategy

    Drive – The Surprising Truth about what Motivates us

    Carrot and stick – reward and punishment- is an age-old technique for getting things done by others. The corporate world has adopted this mantra almost as the panacea for employee motivation. But Daniel Pink tells us a different story.  He says carrot and sticks works well only when the task is algorithmic (well-defined steps), it loses its effectiveness for tasks that requires even little bit of thinking and creativity. In today’s world, most high-tech jobs have lots of ambiguity and demand lots of creativity in order to perform them well. According to Pink, employers need to start thinking about different ways of motivating these knowledge workers. When an employee gets…