EMBRACE BOTH THE UPS AND DOWNS

Founder and CEO of Sulekha.com Satya Prabhakar shares ten ways to stay calm, focused and in control of your work and personal life.
Satya Prabhakar        Print Edition: November 8, 2015
Embrace both the ups and downs


  1. DEVELOP ROUTINES Any task that requires you to decide between options draws on your limited reserves of willpower. If we can convert tasks that we want to cultivate into habits within a scheme of an unthinking routine, (such as brushing teeth) the routine gets simpler. It shouldn't be taken as a rule, but the Nike advertising slogan "Just do it" makes a lot of sense because it exhorts us to perform rituals without taxing our prefrontal cortex. Top App Habit Master
  2. JOT DOWN REMINDERS As we race through the day, innumerable bits of information- tasks, recommendations, ideas, notes-come to us from multiple sources. We cannot trust our brains to remember all of it. Unwittingly, seeking to remember also creates anxiety about forgetting or straining your memory when you're unable to recall something. The trick is to write everything down. Top App Wunderlist and Evernote
  3. EXERCISE IN SOME FORM Physical exercise not only produces calm-inducing endorphins, it also leads to superior intellectual prowess. Accept it without questioning and make time for it no matter what. If the President of United States has time for it, so do we.
  4. EAT HEALTHY Sticking to a goal of eating healthy is easier when combined with physical exercise. Millions of articles on this can be condensed into three simple instructions. Eat 25 per cent less food/calories; replace processed foods with whole, high fibre food and drink water/tea/coffee without milk and sugar. Top App MyFitnessPal
  5. SINGLE TASKING Irrespective of what is expected of us, the mind is directed towards performing only a single task at any given point of time, not multiple tasks. Multi-tasking causes fragmentation, stress and poor quality, while single tasking ensures quality work, higher productivity and a sense of calm and assuredness. Focus on one thing at a time for reasonably large chunks of time. Top App 30/30
  6. OSCILLATE Avoid doing one thing for too long. Our tasks must oscillate from periods of intense activity (increasingly more strenuous) to a period of relaxation and joyful activity. This has proven to improve productivity while reducing stress.
  7. TIME FOR LEISURE No matter how busy you are, you have to take time out for activities that make you happy. This is essential and critical for rejuvenation and for you to be good at your job. While activities that involve creating something or mastering a skill are most beneficial in the long run, even vegetating in front of the TV counts as a winding-down activity.
  8. PLAN AND PONDER Periodic planning (yearly, monthly, weekly, daily), even if we are unable to stick to the prescribed timeframe, will offer us control over what we're doing. Planning defines the target areas and qualifies priorities. The converse of planning-retrospection- is also essential to figure out what we should be doing differently. Make it constructive and don't blame yourself for past decisions.
  9. FAMILY AND FRIENDS The roller coaster of life requires a stabilising force that most often comes in the form of friends and family who are somewhat distanced from your professional life. These are often people who are equipped to offer support and counsel. However, these equations and relationships must continually be renewed to be meaningful. No one ever got anything meaningful out of a one-sided, convenience-based friendship.
  10. SMILE AND MEDITATE Life can be worse. Smile. Life can be better. Meditate. Both of these simple, yet very hard-to-pull-off activities are guaranteed de-stressors. They say an entire month's worth of stress can be unravelled by a solid session of meditation and they aren't wrong. Similarly, smiling can infuse your body with energy you didn't know you had. And, it makes everyone's day brighter.

Satya Prabhakar is the founder and CEO of Sulekha.com

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