I'm a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.



More Lessons on Improving Productivity via Deep Work

This is a continuation of my habit of jotting down key learning from the podcasts I listen to everyday. Today, my fitness band says that I walked 9kms for 1 hour and 53 minutes. This also means that I listened to that much duration of the audio book. That’s a good one fourth of the book, ‘Deep Work’ that I’m listening to.

I carry a piece of paper and a pen during my walk and jot down the points that I find useful. Here is a synopsis of those important points.

Schedule Blocks of Time for Different Work:
What Cal Newport suggests is to pre-schedule important work into your calendar. You can do this by blocking off time for important activities. For example, every day I walk in the morning while listening to an audio book. By blocking the time between 6am to 8am, I ensure that this time is only allocated for exercise and audio books. Should any other task come my way, I will ensure they don’t happen in this preset time. This ensures continuity of my daily exercise. Another example could be that I schedule everyday between 12 noon to 1 pm for new business proposals. Then I ensure that no meetings or conference calls happens during this time. This ensures that I churn out new business proposals every day which is crucial for generating new business.

Rinse and Repeat: This type of scheduling is particularly useful for pursuing large or complicated tasks. By allocating a set time every day, you make sure that you can chip away and make daily progress towards the end goal. A good example is my reading habit. While I buy lots of books, I really suck at reading. Especially, big books like the ‘Deep Work’ which is over 70,000 words. However, since I integrated listening to this audio book as part of my daily walking routine, I was able to finish listening to the entire book within 6 days.

Decide Your Schedule in Advance:
Cal Newport suggests that blocking time off for certain tasks should be done well in advance. Even better if its done on a regular basis so that you follow a rhythmic pattern and over a period of time, it becomes a habit. By imbibing this practice and making it a habit, you no longer need to exert any extra effort to get it done. It becomes second nature to you.

Trust Your Structure:
Once you decided on your schedule, just trust it. Don’t question it and just follow the structure. Initially, this would be uncomfortable and it’s important to anticipate that discomfort. This way, you don’t get put off. It’s also important to be flexible. You don’t necessarily have to follow the schedule strictly. Make small leeway and keep making small adjustments so that you feel comfortable following your schedule.

Reduce Shallow Tasks:
A shallow task is something that does not add much value to your overall goal. For example, checking your Facebook often, constant messaging on WhatsApp or binge watching YouTube without an objective are all things that you can slowly reduce. You don’t have to cut it out completely. But be conscious of where your time is going and slowly but surely reduce those time-wasters. The best way to do that is by tracking where you spend your time daily.

Reduce Travel & Time Wasting Commitments:
Don’t let others control your time. Feel free to say no to any requests that take your time. Be polite but firm. Travel can be a huge time sink. Think of the opportunity cost. Accept it only if you can greatly benefit. If not, politely refuse.

Set a Senders Filter for Emails:
All of us spend an inordinate time on email. Cal Newport suggests to put a ‘Senders Filter’ which puts the onus on the sender. The idea is that you set the expectations well in advance to the sender. Will write a more detailed blog post on this interesting topic tomorrow.


New Year’s Eve Potluck Dinner

The Story of Yasodha: Overcoming Difficulties in Life.

Every morning, as I take my pet dog for a walk around my neighborhood, I notice a special person. A lady with a puny figure in a saree that looks like she had hastily wrapped around. The white walking stick in her hand expels any doubt that she is completely blind. Most of her front teeth were missing which makes her look like she is in her mid sixties even though she is only 47 years young.


What really caught my attention was that I find her confidently walking in the neighborhood, taking the correct turns and even stopping at the right plant to smell the flowers. One day, the curiosity got the better of me and I approached her to ask who she was. And her story of resilience absolutely blew me away!

Her name is Yasodha and she had been blind ever since she was 3 years old. Having born in a very poor family, she and her sisters made ends meet by delivering milk to homes in the mornings. Slowly, she started to work as a domestic help in a few households and continues to do so for over 25 years.


Both her husband and she would travel everyday from their home in Bharaniputhur, on the outskirts of Chennai to Virugambakkam , their place of work. This 13 kilometer journey requires them to travel through a share-auto, a bus and then by foot.

Five years ago, on a fateful day in December of 2009, a Water Lorry hit her husband and her as they were crossing the road. While both of them were seriously hurt, her husband did not survive the accident. Yasodha, made a slow painful recovery. “It was in the accident that I lost all my front teeth”, she hastily adds. All these years, it was her husband who was her escort wherever they travelled. They never had any kids and now with losing her husband, she really had no one to assist her.

It took Yasodha 8 months to overcome the sorrow of her husband’s loss. Her relatives too deserted her and she decided to take things up on her own. She rejoined work and now she undertakes the 13 kilometer journey completely on her own. She wakes up at the crack of dawn, tends to the chickens she raises , finishes her chores at home and is ready to leave for work. She walks from her home to the bus-stand and boards the bus to Virugambakkam. She takes assistance from her co-passengers to let her know when the right bus-stop comes for her to get down and for crossing busy roads. She says that people’s generosity is amazing.


I spoke with the couple in whose house Yadoda works as a domestic help. Both Mr.Ravishankar and Hemalatha are retired officials. Yasoda has been working at their house for 25 years now. They said that she knows their house better than even they do. Her attention to detail and her cleanliness is amazing. Her honesty is unquestionable and not even 10 paise has gone missing. Both Mrs &Mr.Ravishankar deserve credit for standing by Yasodha at time of her darkest grief. I was privy to a beautiful human relationship.

On the other hand, its sad to see that she is being denied the monetary compensation for her husband’s death. She is supposed to get Rs.6 lakhs from the Government but a combination of red tapism and corruption is seeing her run from pillar to post with no sign of her getting the money. Sad to see people take advantage of her disability and innocence. Here’s hoping she gets her due.

This story of Yasodha will be part of a book I’m putting together titled ‘UnKick the Bucket‘. Its a compilation of people who have had near-death experiences and have made the most of their second chance to live.

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