After completing my post-graduation in Remote Sensing – a space Technology, at IIT, I joined the dream job of Scientist in the Department of Space, Government of India. Besides doing the research activity, I wrote the required software code myself instead of looking for software developers. This idea of wearing two hats worked so well for our team – I mean, who doesn’t like all-rounders! It was a great brand to be known for.
So, eventually, when I moved to jobs at multinational corporations as a software developer, I went on adding more hats for myself, a manager, a software architect, a business executive, etc. More and more projects came my way. The top-rated year-end appraisals were proof of my success with my brand.
As my portfolio kept increasing, a period came in my career, when I was highly successful and highly stressed, at the same time. Why not, as I was doing the seemingly impossible task of folding, as per Paul Graham’s terms, Maker’s Schedule and Manager’s Schedule together into one. I could have not disappointed the stakeholders around me, as I had never let them down. I was also in no mood to dilute my brand. This struggle resulted in long working hours, stress, and work-life balance issues.
Added to this, I had a totally insensitive supervisor, who appeared waiting to see me fail. Despite the fact that I worked for him for the previous eight years did not matter anything to him. He deliberately chose to undermine my dedication to the work and focus on things that slipped through the cracks, which I agree had become common because of the massive workload and crazy schedules. He never missed an opportunity to show faults in my work. He called my directs to the meetings along with me and then humiliated me in front of them.
I could have simply left the job, but something inside me said that this would be running away from the problem than taking it head-on. On one hand, I reported the atrocities to the higher-ups but also decided to do something to eliminate my misses and inefficiencies.
One thing that was clear to me was that I had to work on was avoiding things falling through the cracks. I had noticed that my supervisor was good at remembering all the things that were under work. I could not do that so that well. I bought a bunch of books on personal productivity and also on how to remember things better. These books talked about some ideas but did not appear that they would solve my problem.
And then the life-turning moment came for me. I was chatting with my younger brother, who also is a software professional. When he knew that I was looking for a book on personal productivity, he suggested trying GTD (Getting Things Done) book by David Allen. I went through the book a couple of times and voila! I noticed that the GTD methodology hits at the root cause of the personal productivity problem. It is not that you have to increase your memory, but build a system that assists your naturally poor short-term memory.
The rest is history. I was always quite convinced about being organized and always experimented with it. This orientation helped me to not just quickly learn the GTD methodology, but bring innovations into it. In a year or so, I built the most promising personal productivity system for myself. It simply revolutionized my life. I felt fully in control of my responsibilities. Things stopped falling through the cracks. I planned my work more regularly and started working on them much in advance and completed them in time and with good quality. This helped not just me but my entire team working with me. As much as my supervisor shied away from appreciating this transition, but in the town hall meeting, he couldn’t avoid giving credit for several achievements of our department in that year to me.
As GTD got deeply wired into my way to work, it became my passion to continuously fine-tune my system and enjoy the compounding benefits. As a natural progression, I decided to share my success with my system with others, and since then wore just another hat – Personal Productivity Coach and Consultant!
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