I have been reading with interest the increased number of published articles around working from home, the best tools for making remote working easier and ‘ultimate’ lists for maximizing productivity since the lockdown of COVID-19. Like everyone, the first few weeks went by in readjusting to this new environment, temporally, emotionally, and spatially. After all, this was the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and we were all riding a wave of upturned schedules, potential strained professional (and personal) connections, and a negative sense of belonging (albeit temporary). But experienced remote workers showed us that connectedness can improve over time and that was an encouraging sign.
I invested a reasonable amount of time preparing strategies and identifying tools to cope but I was caught off-guard by the FOMO on apps that I might use to give me (and my team) an edge. The thought that I might, without some shiny new tool, prioritize tasks haphazardly, somehow miss an email thread accidentally creating a bottleneck or appear on a web call with staccato audio and an annoyed prospect, brought out untold anxiety. From there I tumbled down the internet rabbit-hole for a few hours and was left exhausted with the options available. Scores of apps for time-tracking, project management, product road mapping, social collaboration, mental health and the list went on. Thankfully, my anxiety was laid to rest after an hour in front of the telly.
This time last year, the fictional world of Westeros (Game of Thrones or GoT) and its ensemble were dealing with their own brand of chaos and I indulged in TV nostalgia by watching, ‘Game of Thrones: The Last Watch’. A documentary chronicling the creation of Game of Thrones’ final season, its most ambitious and anticipated one. It had a segment featuring David Nutter, the show’s main director and his work process. David Nutter, for the uninitiated, directed GoT’s iconic Red Wedding and Walk of Shame episodes. He is sought after in the industry to direct TV pilots and is often called ‘the Stephen Spielberg of TV’.
On the sets of GoT, Mr. Nutter and his team are orchestrating the show’s characters, setting complex scenes & narrative, coordinating shoots across locations, instructing thousands of crew members, and managing an audience’s expectation that was even larger than the wall in the north! Even within this environment, Mr. Nutter continues to use his mostly analog process including paper printouts of floor plans, hand drawn instructions and cast reading sessions that complemented his visual thinking style. This process is something that he had developed from experience and honed over time. Considering the amount of technology, the show utilizes, from production to marketing, it was insightful to see him in action. Using a work system that allowed him to produce the content the way he knew how to do it.
Therein lies the lesson, I suppose, that productivity is deeply personal, like one’s education or money is to them. To emulate the method and tools blindly from the above example would be a fruitless exercise. To combine self-awareness, simplicity and tools that feel right (behaviorally) would be going in the right direction.
We're now forty-five days into the new normal and as a product team have adopted a minimalist philosophy to our choice of tools and processes. We've also prioritized communication and discuss everything from statistical models to dinner recipes! I expect we'll refine our approach over time but so far, this seems to be working for us.
(Original FB post published on March 29, 2020)
These pictures say it all and we can do our bit to help even if we don’t know any of them. Please donate to NGOs, organisations and individual initiatives who are ensuring safety and essential goods to daily wage workers, migrated labourers and other underprivileged communities.
I've compiled this list using online sources and conversations with friends. Please do your homework and take your pick.
Diya Ghar is providing food and hygiene products such as soaps, hand wash etc to those who have lost their livelihood temporarily or permanently during this lockdown. At the moment, the fastest way to reach them is via their email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: https://www.diyaghar.org/
GOONJ, Contact Goonj Team at 9663798026 / 9620136320 / 080-43752143 for help in Bengaluru.
CAPS Foundation. Get in touch on 9886683697
Bank Details: Account Name: CAPS Foundation
Account Number: 64054464963
Bank Name: State Bank of India
IFSC Code: SBIN0040159
Branch Name: Hanumanthnagar
AMAN BIRADARI TRUST, https://amanbiradari.org/
We are accepting online donations to be able to provide meals to those stranded without food in the lockdown, including the homeless and riot victims: Account Name: AMAN BIRADARI TRUST, Bank Name: IDBI Bank, Branch Address: 1/6 Siri Fort Institutional Area, Khel Gaon Marg, New Delhi - 49
GOONJ has increased their efforts to supply food, grocery and other essential materials to daily wage labourers and other needy individuals. Contact: 011- 41401216, 26972351
Ajeevika Bureau - Call at 9958161866 (Vishal Tejpal) or 9999728452 (Loveleen Kumar Satija) for food or other essentials in Gurugram
Adhikar Foundation - Call at +916397804723 to provide cooked food to labourers. Ring up the Workers Unity organisation at 8920794944 or 9540886678
Elixir Foundation is helping migrant daily wage workers with food and other necessities. Before the lockdown, they had crowdfunded resources and now, one call from you can keep a family safe.
Elixir is also helping people living in Vadodara under dire conditions. Their helplines are operational 24×7.
Contact Goonj at 9354937428 / 044-49533991 or email them on email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
If you know anyone in need of food kits and who can collect them from Palghar, contact individual volunteer Lynette D’Souza at 9765472264.
Contact Himanshu at 022- 28453034 or 7838037092 of Goonj
Call the Elixir Foundation at 8655486459
Contact YUVA at 9830795695 or 9167723237 for emergency relief to needy families,
Goonj operates in Kolkata too. Get in touch with them at: Iftikar Ahmed: 8287969739 or email@example.com Arpita: 8287969740 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Seva Kitchen is getting help from NGOs and individual donors to ensure construction workers, scrap collectors and other daily wage workers are well fed during the COVID-19 lockdown. You can get in touch with them if you know any family in need or if you want to help the cause with food packages or hygiene products.
Contact Khushroo Poacha at 9561011264.
Contact Paritosh from Goonj at 09441553473 or 9640433473.
Contact Sheoji Chaturvedi from team Goonj at 9631568989 or email@example.com
Contact Jojo from Goonj at 0484-2977602 or 9847415522
To all my dear friends and family, Wish you a Happy Ugādi, Gudi Padava, Navreh and Sajibu Cheiraoba(1).
These festivals mark the beginning of the Lunar new year for many communities in different parts of India and while each festival has its own ritual, all of them involve cleaning, family, prayers, food and merry-making. (Don't all festivals?) In true Indian spirit, I also want to partake in all of them and absorb all the positive energy and hopefully, share some too!
Without being tone-deaf, I recognize that this time its going to be different with a #21DayLockdown and will not for the most part include all the usual fun but there is a silver lining. I'm now getting a world-class schooling about what is essential and I suspect you are too. Illusions, if any, are getting knocked down like a domino rally. Yes, having some savings for a rainy day is a good thing. No, that new feline-branded lifestyle shoe is not. Yes, having an ability to accept everything life has to offer in good measure is essential. No, most impulsive and fear based thinking is not. You get the drift.
On that last point, I'm reminded of an incident that happened about eight years ago. I walked into office like every other day and was greeted with a dīpa (lamp) and a brass plate filled with jaggery, kalkandam (lump sugar), turmeric, kunkuma and other assortments. My colleague who was at the desk wished me a Happy Ugadi and asked me to have a pinch of the prasadam. Gladly, my sweet tooth and I accepted a generous pinch, only to be hit with a mix of flavours all at once. I wasn't expecting powdered neem leaves and what followed was my face progressing through all the navarasas in quick succession. We laughed heartily and then I learnt that on Ugadi, the prasadam (symobolically) includes sweet, sour, salt, bitter, spicy and tangy flavours. Quite literally, I learnt in a moment that life will not just consist of sweet experiences, but a combination of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter episodes.
What a lesson and what a beautiful way to learn! No textbooks, sermons or cryptic language. See, there is a silver lining!
1) #Ugadi is celebrated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; #GudiPadwa in Goa and Maharashtra; #Navreh in Kashmir. #SajibuCheiraoba in Manipur. (I had to research the last two. Pardon my ignorance.)
2) Ugadi symbolism by Vasudha Narayan: Just as the different substances are bound together, one is reminded that no event or episode is wholly good or bad. Even in the midst of bitter experiences, there are sweet moments. One is also reminded that the experience of taste is transitory and ephemeral; so too, is life, and one has to learn to put pain and pleasure in proper temporal perspective.
3) Navarasa - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgHTKfHp37c. Also, watch the master class by Jagathy sir - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNIdreeRM4E :-)
4) Photo credit: N Bhaskar, The Hindu, 25/3/2020