Month: January 2020

A New Teaching Gig

MITADT University campus
MITADT University campus

I have recently started a new teaching assignment, with the Institute of Product Leadership. I am teaching Digital Marketing to students in the first year of their Full Time MBA Course in Applied Data Science and Technology Management.

The classes are conducted in the campus of MITADT at Loni, Pune. MIT is a well know engineering college. I am familiar with and have visited their campus at Kothrud in South West Pune during my time studying at the Government College of Engineering (COEP), Pune. But this was a new campus for me. In fact, it was the first time I was visiting Loni, about 15 kms to the East of Pune, on the road to Solapur.

I was staying at a hotel in Mundhwa, or Koregaon Park Annexe. This is right in the heart of the city. And it had its advantage in that there were good street food options a couple of minutes walk from the hotel. I did not want to travel to Pune and not try the local street food and was delighted that I could indulge in this conveniently.

Sunset - Pune Koregaon Park
Sunset – Pune Koregaon Park

The commute to Loni took around 40 minutes one way. The campus is a pleasant one. Not very large, but with imposing buildings, dominated by the towering World Peace Dome. As with most educational campuses, it had well maintained lawns and numerous trees. The classrooms on the other hand, though, were relatively small and very school-like in its feel.  Having said that, it did have its benefits of being more intimate, leading to a greater degree of interactivity than in larger rooms.

One of the enjoyable moments for me occurred while I was taking a post-lunch stroll in the campus. The Mula-Mutha river forms the northern boundary of the campus, while immediately outside the main entrance to the South runs the main Mumbai – Solapur railway line. One frequently hears the passage of trains anywhere in the campus. This reminded me of my own engineering college, which, though located nearly twenty kilometres to the West in the heart of Pune city, had the exact same geographical layout, bordered by the river to the North and the railway line to the South.

I enjoyed teaching the course and look forward to subsequent visits.

When are you least productive at Work?

blur business coffee commerce
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Finally, studies have shown that what I experience during the course of a normal work-day is not unique. I have always found my concentration levels dip after lunch, making it harder to refocus and get work done as effectively and efficiently as before lunch (or later in the afternoon).

Now, this study in the UK has found that 14:17 is the time when a large number of people experience the dreaded slump at work. Now, this study was conduced in the UK, but I am sure the results would resonate with many office-goers.

I have definitely found this to be true for the most part of my working life. I am a morning person, and work at maximum efficiency till lunch time (usually around 12:30 / 1 pm). I try to take a short walk after lunch, but find that it’s still hard to get back to the same effectiveness as before. Rather than fight it, I usually just accept it and use this time for my casual browsing, emails, etc. Usually 20 minutes is what it takes for me to start getting out of the slump, and I then get back to work as usual.

Another thing I have observed recently is that this phenomenon is not restricted to working professionals alone. I have found that participants of my teaching sessions that start around 2 pm take longer to ‘warm up’ than at other times.

As experts quoted in the study mention, this slump is a natural part of our circadian rhythms. The ideal solution would be to take a brief nap at this time, but that might not be feasible in most work (or study) places.

What are some of the ways we can work around this natural slump?

  • Take some time during our immediately after lunch for mental relaxation. This can help manage stress levels and enhance energy levels.
  • Use this time for work that is not very mentally demanding (boring stuff).
  • Travel. If you have to travel for a meeting, can you time it such that you are traveling around this time (maybe even take a short nap on the way!).
  • Get a good night’s sleep. This is simply the best solution to minimise the effects of the afternoon slump.

Do you also experience a slump in the early afternoon? What do you do to overcome it?

Monday Reads – 20/01

silver imac near white ceramic kettle
Photo by MockupEditor.com on Pexels.com

Today’s articles might require readers to register, but it’s well worth the effort.

The first two articles are from MIT Sloan Management Review’s Winter 2020 issue:

You’re Going Digital — Now What? – Some tips that can help ‘transform’ your Digital Transformation initiatives. Key insight for me was that “the formation of new and initially invisible social networks… may be the most important ingredient in driving digital transformations.

Five Rules for Leading in a Digital World – Tips for leaders in this “VUCA on Steroids” world.

16 Rules for Living with Less – So you would like to declutter and adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, but don’t know where to start? These set of rules could well prove very helpful.

 

Monday Reads – 13/01

my-life-journal-unsplashPhoto Credit   My Life Journal

In which I list down articles that can help us in our daily lives…

Beat the clock: how you can save two hours a day – It’s interesting to see the increase in articles these days that speak about how to reduce time wasters and focus on one’s priorities. This article has an interesting suggestion for how one could actually put this theory to practice. In this article, author Marie Forleo, suggests that one should aim to free up two hours a day by first understanding where one’s time is presently being spent. It might sound tough, but there are some useful tips on how one can achieve this.

The Mental Health Benefits of Having a Daily Routine – This might seem counter to the popular notion these days that flexibility is one of the key requirements for success. But I strongly believe that having a daily routine can be a powerful tool to help us achieve our goals. In addition to providing an anchor in this fast changing world, it can help reduce stress and help us sleep better. Interestingly, both this and the earlier article emphasises the importance of developing a good food habit as well.

The morning routines of successful people – I am a morning person, and, naturally, this article appealed to me. While developing your own routine, pay close attention to what your morning looks like.

In the Beginning, Anything is Possible – So, if all of the above articles have helped you decide that you need to make a change, and you are wondering where to start, then this excellent article might just be your best starting point.

 

A stay at Annamalai Tiger Reserve

Sunrise - Forest Rest House Attakatty
Sunrise – Forest Rest House Attakatty

We decided to take a small break during the Christmas holiday period, pretty much at the last minute. As expected, decent places to stay without having to break the budget were hard to find. But as I started looking around places that can be reached in a comfortable day’s driving, the hill station of Valparai stood out.

Valparai is located on the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu, close to the town of Pollachi. As I started reading more, I realised that Valparai is located adjacent to the Annamalai Tiger Reserve, which in turn is contiguous with Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in Kerala. While researching for suitable accommodation for the family in and around Valparai, I came across the Forest Rest Houses located within the Tiger Reserve.

While I have stayed inside or adjacent to forests previously, I realised that my kids had not. This, along with the suitability of the accommodation for this specific trip and the budget were the key factors that influenced us to consider this option. But the most important, and surprising, factor was that accommodation at any of these Forest Rest Houses could be booked online through a surprisingly good web-site.

Accommodation booked, I rented a car through Zoomcar for the duration of the trip. An important point that we had to keep in mind was that, as the place was located within a Forest, access was restricted after 4 pm. This was to minimise any wildlife encounters. As the place is a fair distance away from Bengaluru, we decided to break our journey at a friend’s farmhouse near Coimbatore.

The drive to the rest house (at Attakatty) was uneventful, except for the fact that the location of the rest house is not very well sign-posted from the main road. We ended up missing the turn-off and had to make some sharp U-turns to get back on the route. But once there, it was very nice. Accommodation is in the form of low-slung rooms, beneath tall green trees nestled on the side of the Western ghats. It is sufficiently far away from the main road to block off vehicular noise, but close enough that we could walk down to the tea stall at the junction for delicious snacks.

Attakatty Forest Rest House
Attakatty Forest Rest House

The room was spartan, but reasonably clean. Bed linen was provided, but one has to carry all toiletries, as well as soaps, towels, etc. There was running water in the very clean toilets, but ours was missing hot water. The staff were attentive and made arrangements for hot water, so it was not too much of an inconvenience.

Dinners and breakfasts were at the Rest House. Prior notice of a few hours has to be given to the caretaker so they can prepare the required quantity of food. The food was typical basic South Indian fare, but delicious.

We were only there for a couple of days. but the experience of staying inside the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, one of the key ecological hot-spots of the World, was a very memorable one. On the first evening, we were visited by a small group of Lion-tailed Macaques, a species of monkey endemic to the Western Ghats.

View of Aliyar Dam
View of Aliyar Dam from Attakatty

I had high expectations of spotting endemic bird species, but this did not fructify. But I still managed to observe a good number of birds, some of which were lifers for me.

For a last-minute holiday, this surpassed expectations and made for a refreshing break.