48 hour days and 4 day weekends

Are you smiling ? And chuckling that I have finally lost it? Hmmm Shalini must be saying that she has successfully transferred her Friday madness to me. My friend Shalini’s madness starts taking over from Wednesday onwards and progressively becomes unmanageable by Friday :):) And its good, I enjoy it. I just wish she could be her Friday self everyday…. well, that too shall happen someday. I am being her Friday self till then.

So, today morning I wanted to write early and asked Amma to cut the fruits and Krishnan to make the juice because I wanted that time free to write. I opened my laptop and started logging into my blog and realised that Krishnan was sitting in the living room and had told Amma to let him know once she had completed cutting the fruit. I have to confess that my sixth sense for my mother’s activities is heightened.. I usually catch her doing something that she need not or should not be doing :):). It has always been that way since I was a baby. I watched over her and was the mother. So my sixth sense kicked in and I got up to see what she was upto and as expected, she was trying to remove the thorns from the pineapple that had been peeled. Yes, I stopped her and took over the cutting and juicing of the pineapple and in the next 5 minutes everyone had juice.

Before you decide that I am tom-toming my speed of execution, I want you to read this paragraph. The juicer I have, as do many of you, can separate the thorns in the pineapple once its peeled or you use a filter and remove the thorns. Nowadays you get these slow juicers that separate the peels and seeds and give you juice thats fresh and with fibre and I am using one of these. My mother need not have spent time removing those tiny thorns because the juicer would have done it anyway. She was spending time on an un-necessary activity that would take a lot of time to accomplish…. my mom can afford that time, she isn’t stressed, but you are 🙂

In my blog You got Stress ? :):), I have written about making time for your passion and one person commented saying he will someday be like me, without stress. My reply to him inspired this blog. Most people are stressed because they don’t have 48 hours in a day to accomplish all they have to do in a day …. but you do have 48 hours if only you didn’t spend time taking out the thorns from a peeled pineapple !! What my mother did in the morning is what you do everyday at work, at home. Focus deeply on the unnecessary, unimportant and time consuming trivia. I always had time for the people who worked with me and I rarely worked beyond 9 hours.. I never followed the fashion trend of taking work home and working on weekends. I had 48 hours in a day and I still do and I will continue to have those hours. Remember two things – do your work, not other people’s and limit what you can get done in a day.

Everyday I identify the two things that I must accomplish that day and just spend time getting those done. Till I don’t do those two things, I don’t get onto anything else. For instance, Krishnan and I have put health as a priority for the rest of our lives and to that end, we don’t start our day without a 3 to 5 kms walk. Its easy. At work, I would similarly identify, just two or three things that I had to complete in a given day and prioritise those. Everything got done. The planning has to be long term but execution has to be bite sized.

At work, the one other thing that you need to watch out for is the first point – do your work, not other people’s. Its not collaboration when you do your subordinate’s work. It doesn’t help your subordinate grow and it takes up all your time. Anytime you feel you are overwhelmed and don’t have any time at all, check the work list … how much of it is somebody else’s work? Especially managers need to watch out that you get paid to “get” the job done, not to “do” the work. If you “do” the work, you got promoted by mistake :). And no, like Prof Martins says, you don’t have the luxury of blaming your team member if the work doesn’t get done. Think about it – Don’t touch your team member’s work and you can’t blame him/her. What it presumes is you have identified the right team member or trained them well. Hopefully that is a priority everyday … if its not, you will have only 10 hours a day and get nothing done.

We, in India have imported the work culture and definition of productivity from the US.. not once looking to Europe and a few interesting countries there, France, Germany or more recently Sweden. Sweden has recently experimented with a 6 hour work day and guess what, productivity went UP, not down. Read about the experiment here Efficiency up, turnover down: Sweden experiments with a 6 hour work day. France, for long has had shorter work weeks and longer weekends and guess what, there are almost no gyms in France, but they also don’t have an obesity epidemic like the US or India. Why ? because they eat cheese, pastries and drink wine and walk and cycle everywhere …. they aren’t stuffing breakfast down their throats while driving or eating chips and cookies in a meeting room :):).

What I am going to say next will really make you hate me, but thats ok. As long as Krishnan and I were working the 9-5 hours, our respective bosses always had our vacation plans for the entire year usually by Dec 31st of the previous year. So the vacation plan for 2014 was with my boss on Dec 31, 2013. Do you know where you are going for the Thanksgiving weekend? A sure way of beating stress is to daydream about your vacations … and plan for them a year in advance. It does two things – gives your team the opportunity to fend for themselves and learn a thing or two about managing and it gives you a break from the grind. Don’t stop with your vacation plans, ask your team to similarly plan so that you don’t have to refuse anyone their “PTO”. Don’t tell me its not possible, I have done it for nearly 15 years with my teams and thats usually the first question my direct reports have to answer – what are your vacation plans? Right, Rohit ?

So there you have 48 hour days and 4 day weekends … Hope atleast one reader put in their leave application for Friday, making it a four day weekend before reaching the end this blog. Happy Wednesday !

2 thoughts on “48 hour days and 4 day weekends”

  1. 🙂 Once again a very inspiring write-Up. Thanks for writing it. I dont know how soon I would be able to achieve what you say here, but yes I have started trying. I am off this Friday and would do something exciting with my family and that should help all this Stress. Thanks Again.

    • Ankur, am so glad that you have taken time off on Friday. Try switching off your phone tonight :). The world won’t end if you don’t see your emails… It existed before Google and will exist after Google too :):). Happy Dussehra.


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