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Philosophy Productivity

Remote Work

All knowledge workers should work remotely now.

Forever, not just for this pandemic.

If you use computer to do your work, you should work remotely (preferably home or a closest coworking space).

You should let industrial workers, medical professionals, local businesses, or anyone who absolutely needs to be in physical space, give a priority.

It isn’t about a preference or convenience.

It is about being responsible and doing the right thing.

It isn’t just about social distancing and being cautious and prepared for another pandemic.

It’s about getting back the 5-10% time of our life we waste in commuting.

Less people on the road means:

Less or no commute time for everyone.

Less stress, neck and back pain, headaches, and accidents.

Less pollution and fuel consumption.

And more importantly – more time for family, exercise, cooking, and hobbies.

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Philosophy Productivity

Meeting Participants’ State of Mind

There are a lot of folks who are experiencing video meetings a.k.a. Zoom fatigue with the new normal of working remotely.

What if you get asked – “How do you feel?” before and after each meeting? 🤔

It needs to be a very lightweight approach to capture each participant’s “state of mind”.

Before the meeting, you can select one of the options:
Great: Well-prepared, well-rested, excited, or calm.
Meh: Not prepared, overwhelmed, tired, or distracted.
Worse: Sad, angry, depressed, sick, or injured.

And after the meeting, you can select one of the options:
Great: Inspired, hopeful, confident, or decisive.
Meh: Confused, hopeless, doubtful, overwhelmed, or distracted.
Worse: Angry, unhappy, lost, frustrated, or sad.

In Avoma, we already capture each meeting’s “Purpose” and “Outcome” to track meeting level success.

But this is taking it to the next level and understanding each participant’s success.

It would be interesting to capture participants’ feedback over a certain period and see how it affects meetings’ outcomes and employee satisfaction.

What do you think? Would you like to track this?

How could it be helpful for you as an individual and your team?

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Productivity Startup

Slack Etiquettes

With remote work, I’m worried if we’re spending more time Slacking vs doing uninterrupted high-quality work.

Here are some Slack etiquettes:

1. Fewer messages mean fewer notifications

Never send a one-word message like hey, hmm even if you immediately follow up with your real message.

2. Use Reactions vs sending one-word messages

For acknowledgment, use Reactions instead of one-word messages (Thanks, lol).

3. Use formatting for longer messages

Use bulleted lists, bold, and italic text styling to make your titles and key points stand out.

4. Use threads to reply and comment

Use threads every time to keep an ongoing conversation with replies and keep the main channel clear.

5. Default to public channels

Use @username mention for specific requests or urgent matters. DMs are for confidential conversations.

6. Set prefixes to indicate message purpose

BUG: someone needs to look into it
FYI: no one needs to reply
CUSTOMER ISSUE: a high priority issue

7. Disable Notifications

Disable all Slack group notifications sounds and alerts. Keep only personal DM or @mention notifications.

8. Praise publicly, criticize privately

9. Know when to Slack vs to meet

If you’re furiously Slacking in channel, consider having a meeting/call. Share discussion points & decisions for others.

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Prioritizing your Schedule Vs. Scheduling your Priorities

How to achieve your goals with a popular prioritization framework

The other day I heard this quote while listening to a podcast episode:

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. — Stephen Covey

My instant reaction was — whatever 🙄! It sounds great to hear, but in the end, aren’t these two things still the same? The author is just making it catchy to remember it. And I moved on.

But it stayed on my mind over the weekend. I remembered it and kept thinking about it. I guess making it catchy to remember it actually worked!

So I decided to give it more thought and understand what’s the difference between these two phrases and specifically, what shall I get out of it.


The Prioritization Paradox

The phrase ‘prioritize what’s on your schedule’ seems to imply that you already have a bunch of tasks on your plate, and now you have to do bottom-up planning to shuffle them around in their relative order of importance and urgency. This seems to be more of a day-to-day execution mode.

On the other hand, the phrase ‘schedule your priorities’ implies you have an empty schedule and you think about your priorities first, then schedule them in its order of importance, and then come up with appropriate tasks. This seems to be more of a monthly or weekly planning mode.

The difference might sound subtle but I think there is something to it. Here’s another way of understanding it. Ask yourself these questions:

Do you want to slog through the laundry list, checking each item off, even if it’s not very useful and probably not contributing to your goals?

OR

Do you want to start with your goals, prioritize them and then focus on the most important tasks that will help achieve your goals?

Obviously, you will agree that it’s later.

This leads to a question — how do you decide what is a priority?

Making prioritization choices seems like one of the biggest challenges we face on a day-to-day basis both in our personal lives as well in our professional life.

Which task should I do first? Is this task relevant to my goals? Is it worth spending so much time on this task?

Unfortunately, not enough people ask these questions on a daily basis. Largely because prioritization is a complex task, but also because they aren’t aware of how to do it effectively.


The Eisenhower Matrix

There is one time management process I had heard a few years ago that I have been following it somewhat loosely, but I think it can help answer some of the questions above. It is called the Eisenhower Matrix. Using a 4-quadrants matrix below, you will categorize your priorities or tasks based on four possibilities of the urgency and importance of a task.

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately)
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later)
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else)
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate)
https://jamesclear.com/eisenhower-box

The great thing about this matrix is that while it’s best to be used for your monthly or weekly planning process, it can also be used for your day-to-day execution.

While it’s self-explanatory what each of these quadrants means, I will share how I use this process typically on a monthly and weekly basis.

Quadrant #1: Urgent and Important

These are the tasks that are urgent (maybe because I did not foresee earlier, or because some external event triggered it) and important (because something is dependent on it or something in which I have got the most context or knowledge about), I try to prioritize these as many as possible.

Examples of this type of my tasks are: following up with a prospect on the proposal, preparing requirements for the sprint planning based on customer feedback, following up with a candidate with offer details while she’s also interviewing at other companies, etc.

Quadrant #2: Important, but Not Urgent

These tasks are important (because I need to be involved in it) but not urgent (there is still some time to do it). I tend to schedule these on later part of the calendar so that the urgent tasks are taken care first, and then I can start working on these as time permits before they become urgent.

Examples of this type of my tasks are: working on product strategy and roadmap, refining our vision and differentiation, working on new marketing copy and website pages, etc.

Quadrant #3: Urgent, but Not Important

These are the most crucial tasks that you need to manage properly as they distract you from working on your most important tasks. A natural tendency is to work on the urgent tasks without really thinking too much if they’re really important or not (i.e. are they going to move the key needle of your goal or can somebody else do this instead of you).

These tasks I try to delegate as it’s less important for me to be involved in it, and maybe somebody else is better suited to do it and probably can do it sooner than I can do.

Examples of this type of my tasks are: doing timely accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes, etc. I definitely suck at these, so I learned to outsource these to who do it better.

Quadrant #4: Not Urgent and Not Important

These items are mostly distractions. So I try to delay them as much as possible or ignore them completely. This definitely helps simplify and declutter my to-do list and not feel overwhelmed.

Examples of this type of my tasks are: surfing the internet during the work-time, attending many meet-ups and conferences, meeting people over coffee/lunch without specific agenda, etc.


While I use this framework fairly regularly, I don’t use any specific tool to categorize each task diligently in different quadrants. That seems like overkill to me and make it too time-consuming.

But just being aware of this framework back of my mind while I am planning a week or a month, I have found it to be useful to identify and plan my top priorities to do first vs schedule some later, and also delegate and ignore other things.

I hope you’ll find it useful too.

Efficiency is doing things right; Effectiveness is doing the right things.

Peter Drucker
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2017 Retrospective and 2018 Goals

My reflections on what worked well and what didn’t in 2017 and what I would continue to do and do something new in 2018.

I’ve started this practice last year — to retrospect on the last year’s achievements, misses, and learnings and define the goals for the next year at the beginning of the new year. I have written about why I started doing this exercise in my last year’s post, but if I want to summarize it in one key reason — it would be — to be accountable and answerable to the world about my new year’s goals.

But before I begin, wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2018!

Retrospective for 2017

Overall, it was a great year. I made satisfactory progress across many areas and I feel good about it. Having said that, I still feel I could have done better in a few areas.

As mentioned in my last year’s goals, my 3 big priorities were —

  • Family
  • Health (Exercise + Sleep)
  • Startup (Venture + Programming)

Family

On the family front, I enjoyed spending a great time with family in general.

Travel
We traveled to India, Hawaii, and Tahoe together and spent a great time with the extended family as well.

Daily routine
The most important habit I’ve been following for the last couple years that I continued even last year was — I try to be home from work between 5–6pm instead of staying up late till 7pm or so such that I can spend more time with the kids before they go to bed by 9pm. I catch up on work after they fall asleep.

Health

On the health front, overall I did decently well, but I’m personally not very proud of it.

Workout
My key goal was to complete 3 routines of P90X-3 — that is 30 minutes intense exercise for 90 days — and do it for 3 times in the year. Unfortunately, I finished the entire P90X-3 routine only once, and then for 2 times, I started the routine and gave up in the middle after 4–5 weeks into it. So in short, collectively I’ve worked out only for 5 months than the planned 9 months.

Sleep
Overall as planned, I continued to sleep well for an average 7 hours/day. Even though we had an infant baby and I had my ambitious startup plans, I managed to get a decently well sleep. Obviously, a lot of that credit goes to my wife! 🙂

Meditation
Overall, I had not planned to do meditation in the last year but learned to do a guided meditation, Pranayama and different breathing techniques to meditate well. I learned this in the 2nd half of the year, but managed to do 20 mins meditation in the early morning at least 3–4 days/week.

Food
As I started exercising actively, I adopted some good food habits too. Most importantly, a drastic reduction in sugar intake — for example, no sugar in Tea, Coffee, etc., but also, in general, less consumption of sweets. In addition, I’ve also increased protein intake mostly through plant-based supplements in smoothies/shakes and energy bars.

I’ve also seen, when I didn’t exercise as per the plan for the half of the year, I lost my control and ended up eating more junk food. So the lesson learned is — when you exercise actively, the guilt of eating junk food is very high.

Work

On the work front, I think I’ve made good progress, but again, I’m not completely happy with my own accomplishments and believe that I could have done more.

Startup
The biggest focus for the last year was to start my new venture. I started exploring the problem, solution, etc. since Jan 2017, finalized what I want to work on in Mar 2017, assembled the co-founding team in Jul 2017 and officially started — Avoma, Inc., and raised a pre-seed funding in Oct 2017.

We’re still in a stealth mode and have launched the product in private beta to a few early customers and iterating on our product. So technically while we’ve made a lot of progress, obviously, I would have wished this would have happened a lot sooner and we would have achieved a lot more things by the end of this year.

Programming
While my initial goal was to re-learn programming and launch a meaningful application by the end of the year, ideally for my startup only, unfortunately, I just learned different programming languages and frameworks but did not end up building a real-world application.

I learned Python, Django framework, Javascript, React and Redux. I’m still not an expert in any of this. Since I was not an expert yet, I was being a bottleneck in our startup’s product development efforts while other cofounders were pretty strong technically. So I ended up getting out of their way and let them handle the end to end product development.

Miscellaneous

Reading
My last year’s goal was to read a book per month. While I read 10 books in the entire year, I must admit — I didn’t really read them each book per month. Sometimes it took longer to finish a book more than a month, and sometimes I read smaller books and could read more books in a month.

The books I read are (with my ratings) –

Blogging
My last year’s goal was to write a blog post per week. I failed miserably in this. I only wrote 14 articles in the last year. One of the challenges was — writing a thoughtful article takes around 5–8 hours per post. So sometimes even though I had a lot of lessons and point of views to share, I ended up not prioritizing blogging over other important tasks at hand.

Goals for 2018

In short, for 2018, I won’t be changing a lot of things from my 2017 goals— just a couple minor changes. My goals for 2017 were pretty decent, and I plan to just repeat those this year too.

Family

  • Continue to spend a good time with the kids and wife — these times won’t come back again
  • Don’t plan to travel much this year due to startup commitments, but prefer to spend more quality time on a daily basis

Health

  • Complete P90X-3 routine at least 3 times
  • Meditate 3–4 days/week
  • Continue to follow good eating habits — no/less sugar, no/less fried/oily food, more protein, more vegetables and fruits
  • Continue to sleep 7-hours a day

Work

  • Achieve revenue and funding goals for my startup — Avoma, Inc.
  • Take Machine Learning, NLP courses from Coursera
  • Build a real-world application — preferably relevant to my startup, but in case if that’s not possible, then a side project

Miscellaneous

  • Continue to read 1 book/month — preferably 50% fiction and 50% non-fiction (or at least non-business related)
  • Continue to write 1 blog post/week — including both for personal and professional (startup related) blog

If you’ve read until this point, then I would request if you have any suggestions to improve my thinking or to achieve my goals, then please free to comment or send me an email at aditya dot kothadiya at gmail dot com.

Also, if you haven’t already done any retrospective for your 2017 and planned your 2018, then I would highly encourage you take a moment and think about it and write down what worked well and what didn’t in 2017 and what are your plans for 2018 — if not publicly, but at least for your own benefit.


Once again, wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year 2018! Hope you all crush your 2018 goals!

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Another Side of The “Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand” Story

Or why instead of following it blindly, it’s time to modify it a bit.

I’m sure most of you have heard of “The jar of life — Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand” story. If you have not, here is a quick refresher.

The original story

A philosophy professor once stood before his class with a large empty jar. He filled the jar with large rocks and asked his students if the jar was full.

The students said that yes, the jar was full.

He then added small pebbles to the jar and asked again, “Is the jar full now?”

The students agreed that the jar was indeed full.

The professor then poured sand into the jar and asked again.

The students then agreed that the jar was finally full.

The professor went on to explain that the jar signifies one’s life.

The rocks are equivalent to the most important things in your life, such as family, health, and relationships. And if the pebbles and the sand were lost, the jar would still be full and your life would still have a meaning.

The pebbles represent the other things that matter in your life, such as your work, school, and house. These things often come and go, and are not permanent or essential to your overall well-being.

And finally, the sand represents the remaining small stuff and material possessions in your life. These things don’t mean much to your life as a whole and are likely only done to waste time or get small tasks accomplished.

The metaphor here is that if you start with putting sand into the jar, you will not have room for rocks or pebbles. This holds true for the things you let into your life too.

If you spend all of your time on the small and insignificant things, you will run out of room for the things that are actually important. So in order to have a more effective life, you should prioritize important things in your life and then worry about pebbles and sand at a later time.

I believed in this story. And I had actually put it into practice in my both personal and professional life too.

Another side of the story

But there is another side of the story too that no one has told you yet.

While practicing this theory for a while now I’ve realized that — if I always try to focus on the most important things or goals in my life, then I would procrastinate the other tasks that seemed a lower priority.

But over a period, these lower priority tasks would start piling up. And the more I delayed taking care of these tasks, the more inertia it built up to complete those tasks.

The most harmful side effect of delaying lower priority tasks was, the longer the list of such lower priority tasks grew, the more stress it started adding to my daily routine.

The problem with focusing primarily on the most important things is — since they’re the most important things in your life, they also take longer to complete and more bandwidth to accomplish. And because you’re constantly swamped up with the most important things, you would never get to the lower priority things in your life.

And at some point, I have decided to stop following this mantra of prioritizing the most important things first. On some days, I would start taking care of the lower priority tasks first. This way, as the day starts, I would check off a few things off my plate, and then in the second half of the day, I would work on the important tasks.

The benefit of taking care of a few lower priority tasks first was — it would start building the momentum. There was a sense of achievement and progress. And that momentum would actually help me to work on the important and difficult tasks with much positive mindset.

So instead of following the rocks, pebbles, and sand story blindly as it was told, I would recommend to modify it a bit where instead of filling the jar with only rocks first, and then pebble, etc., you could fill it with few rocks, then few pebbles, then some sand, and then again few more rocks, pebbles and more sand. This way you’re making balanced progress in all areas.

Another approach you can consider is — at the macro level (monthly or annual), prioritize the most important things, but at the micro level (daily or weekly), keep it flexible as per the situation and needs at that time.


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Starting up… a new chapter

Today is my birthday. Birthdays are generally a good milestone to start something new, to have new resolutions and goals, to reflect on the past and think about the future — very similar to the beginning of a new calendar year.

Today is that day for me. I’m starting a new chapter of my life — one of the most important chapters of my life for the next several years — I’m starting a new company.

A day before y’day, I resigned from my current employer, [24]7 and jumped off the cliff again to start a new venture.

4 years ago, my co-founder and I had sold our previous startup Shopalize to [24]7 Inc. As a part of the acquisition, I joined [24]7 and worked there for the past 4 years. During my stay there, many people (friends and acquaintances) used to ask me when am I starting my next startup?

As they say, once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. So their question was quite valid. But I didn’t have a satisfactory answer. I knew it was not going to be “soon”. Very honestly, it was partly because we had some payouts over the period of 4 years, but largely also because I didn’t want to rush into a startup rat race for the sake of doing it and because it’s a fad.

While I had to wait there for 4 years for the full payout, I enjoyed every bit of this period on both work and personal fronts. Overall I had fun working at [24]7. I enjoyed working with some of the smartest people, built some great relationships, learned a lot of about Enterprise space, built some cutting edge innovative products, failed in getting traction for some of the products and made some mistakes too.

One of the most fulfilling reasons I enjoyed working at [24]7 is — I was able to contribute and make a direct impact in the company’s strategy and vision. It was a full package experience — I not only learned what to do in my next company but also learned what not to do. But overall, it was a great experience.

But for the past 6 months or so, I started feeling plateaued. I wasn’t able to make the progress I wanted. I wasn’t learning something new. And at that moment, the decision became stronger to start something new on my own and accelerate the learning process in pretty much everything.

Once it was clear I wanted to start my venture, I didn’t have a shortage of problems I wanted to solve. The question was — which problem should I pick to solve — and dedicate the next several years of my life for it.

For the past 3–4 months, I researched and brainstormed a couple of problems extensively, discussed it with other people too, and eventually decided to solve a problem that I faced every single day in my professional life as a knowledge worker, and is also applicable to pretty much most of the knowledge workers in the world.

I want to fix the productivity and information loss problem that happens during every “meeting” — the necessary evil of a corporate life.

I don’t hate meetings. In fact, I love them — but when they are productive. So much knowledge gets shared, so much progress is made, and so much alignment is achieved when you have good meetings.

But there is a downside to it the way how meetings are getting conducted today. So much of time is wasted and so much of knowledge that gets discussed in the meetings gets lost. And I hate that part. And that’s what I want to fix.

I’m teaming up with few other people who are equally passionate about solving this problem. It’s a hard problem and it will take many years until we achieve our final vision. But every attempt to reach towards that vision will be worth taking to make a positive impact in knowledge worker’s life.

We’re barely getting started, so the more details will get shared very soon and very frequently on this blog. So stay tuned…


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Things are for us; we are not for things

It’s so sad to see that nowadays we care more about making sure the smartphones and wearables we use get required attention and care instead of just being happy that we achieved our true goal for which those devices are designed in the first place.

A few days ago a friend of mine shared a below update –

Instead of congratulating him for 2.5 hours of exercise and burning roughly 350 calories, one of his colleagues asked if he had Fitbit on and did he capture those steps?

Who’s controlling who?

Somewhere in this age of smartphones and wearables, we forgot that these devices and things around us are designed for us and not the other way around.

Shouldn’t it be perfectly fine if we forgot our phone at home for a day? Why do we get restless about it?

Shouldn’t it be okay if our Fitbit is not charged right when we really wanted to go for a run? Why do we cancel our exercise plans just because we can’t capture those steps?

We get stressed if our phones are not charged before we head out. We get restless if we don’t get any new notification from our favorite apps in the span of 5 minutes. We feel frustrated if we can’t capture our 30-minutes run in Fitbit.

But we don’t need to.

Our addiction to smartphones & wearables

I don’t think there is any doubt in our mind that we are addicted to these smartphones and wearables. When you think of the last time you were in the same position, it may be just a few minutes ago. From catching up with friends over the dinner table to watching our kids play in the park, we miss out life’s simple joys when our attention is turned to these little devices that we carry everywhere. We pretend to be still paying attention, but the truth is we can’t really multitask the way we think we do.

I remember a short film titled “I Forgot My Phone — Video” suggests just that. That video has already been viewed nearly 50 million times, which suggests that it hit the cord of many people’s current situations.

While the video is supposed to be a lighthearted take on our smartphone-obsessed culture, it opens our eyes about our smartphone addiction and what we need to do about it.

We can do something about it

Instead of succumbing ourselves into this sensory overload, if we unplug ourselves for several brief moments during the day and looked up, we would experience a whole new world exists beyond that little screen. Specially wearables invading our lives from fitness to glasses to watches, I questioned are they just a fad or a real necessity. I believe it’s a fad — and that’s my opinion, but I also read stories about many people who found it to be life-changing.

For me, Fitbit was valuable in the early days to learn my initial benchmarks. After initial few months of its usage, I learned on average how many steps I walk in a typical workday. How many minutes I need to run or walk to achieve my 10K steps goal for a day. But once I learned my patterns, that novelty wore off after few months. Eventually, I stopped using Fitbit and just started making sure that I exercise minimum 4 days a week. I don’t need to be accurate about how many steps or miles I ran. All I need to do is be in the ballpark. But now the benefit is, I don’t have to worry about charging it every 4–5 days, or making sure I’m always wearing it, etc. Life is slightly simpler :).

But the point is not just about Fitbit or any specific device. In general, I think we can do a better job in being mindful of giving just enough attention to these devices or things, and not at the cost of missing the joy of real life interactions and experiences.


Originally published at aditya.kothadiya.com on March 14, 2016.

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This is how I want to use Facebook

For the last 2 months, I deleted the Facebook app on my iPhone as a part of a casual experiment. Sounds crazy, right? Well, probably not to sane ones, but definitely to addicted ones.

Let me explain in detail.

Being mindful about my time

In general, I’m very observant and mindful about how I use my time. But there was one behavior of a mine I wanted to make sure I’m controlling it rather than it controlling me — the smartphone addiction.

Overall I believe I’m mindful of how I spend my time on my iPhone (my wife may disagree ;)), but still one fine day, I questioned the time I spend on some of the apps I use every day and the value I receive from each one of them.

I use Twitter, Nuzzel, and LinkedIn apps most actively to discover inspirational or actionable articles about startup and product management (the topics I’m passionate about). I also use Quora and Medium once in a while for interesting articles on varied topics. I use Pocket app to save all these articles and read it later when I’ve leisure time on weekends. Apart from these content-specific apps, I use WhatsApp and Facebook pretty actively for messaging and keeping a tap on friends’ activity respectively.

After ranking these apps based on its value I receive, WhatsApp and Facebook ranked last.

I felt WhatsApp is still valuable to communicate with close friends and family with the condition that I opt-out from all groups where sending forwards and jokes was a prominent activity than actual communication.

The value of Facebook

But for Facebook, I couldn’t convince myself that I was being “connected” with my friends the way it’s being advertised. I thought it was happening on WhatsApp on a more intimate level. My Facebook newsfeed is primarily a source for entertaining and political videos, photos of friends’ vacations and parties, and once in a while educational and informative articles/videos. Overall I felt, I’m not getting enough value from Facebook compared to the time I was spending on it.

Having that little Facebook app icon available to tap at your finger tip was a clear invitation to waste 10–15 minutes of your day every single time you open that app.

So I thought — what if I could just get rid of the Facebook app from my iPhone and see how it affects my life?

It sounded like a good idea — and boom, just like that, the app was gone!

And nothing happened in last 2 months. I didn’t miss the Facebook app at all.

Having said that, I’m not saying I didn’t access the Facebook website at all in those 2 months. Once or twice in a week, I would take an effort to open the Facebook.com in the browser on my iPhone. Since the experience is not very great on the mobile web browser, I wasn’t spending a lot of time on it. And I felt that was good enough Facebook consumption for me.

Something changed

Every time I would access Facebook through the browser, I would encounter few updates from Mark Zuckerberg as I’m following him. And most often, I would be inspired by his thoughts, actions, and resolutions. And apparently I’m not the only one. There’re many men who find him as a lifestyle guru.

While I admire his posts about how a farmer in India benefited using Internet.org, I don’t agree that’s how most of the India or even the World is using Facebook. It’s a great story to tell for marketing purposes, but I’m concerned that most of the World use Facebook for passing their time.

Again, I do believe in Facebook’s network effect but realized that it’s better to put that network effect into a positive change than just for entertainment purposes. That’s when I realized, I have a choice to decide how do I want to use Facebook. And there are 2 aspects to it — i) what I should share on Facebook that will be valuable to my friends and ii) what my friends will share that will be valuable to me. While I can’t change my friends’ behavior, but, at least, I can start with me, and hope that it will inspire a few of them to do something similar.

What I plan to do

I plan to share more inspirational and informational videos of all kinds that I personally discover. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a serious person ;). Once in a while, I’ll share entertaining videos too :), but my focus will be on educating and motiving others.

In addition to that, I will share various problems that I observe, and possible ideas and solutions that could solve them. They may be half-baked, but I’ll share it anyways so that conversations will happen and those ideas might get baked by collaborative inputs and wisdom.

I also want to share some of the things that I’m working on and the lessons I’m learning — my day job, my part-time projects, my hobbies, resolutions, etc. I will not just share my success stories or accomplishments only, but will also share my struggles and failures.

What I hope others will do

While I make this my habit, which will take a while, I also hope other people also share similar things so that I and others can also learn from them.

While I’m very proud of people’s achievements when they share them, I’m more interested in hearing about their journey how they got there — including their ups and downs.

While I’m very happy to see photos of their vacation, I would love to read more about how did they plan it, what was their experience like or unique perspective they developed about that location, etc.

Anyways, you got the point. Let’s make Facebook informative, inspirational and personal.

Closing thoughts

We need to leverage Facebook’s massive reach to make a positive impact in the World rather than wasting people’s most precious resource — time, which many of them don’t realize it.

So I’ll be using Facebook actively again — just with a positive twist. And yes, I’ve downloaded back the Facebook app on my iPhone :).


Originally published at aditya.kothadiya.com on March 9, 2016.

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Why you need to produce more than what you consume


A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a Reditt thread which was discussing the small lifestyle changes you’ve made to have a big impact in your life. The most popular comment on that thread was about how one person improved his life by being a Producer vs a Consumer. Here is brief excerpt of that comment –

I make sure to start every day as a producer, not a consumer. When you get up, you may start with a good routine like showering and eating, but as soon as you find yourself with some free time you probably get that urge to check Reddit, open that game you were playing, see what you’re missing on Facebook, etc. Put all of this off until “later”. Start your first free moments of the day with thoughts of what you really want to do; those long-term things you’re working on, or even the basic stuff you need to do today, like cooking, getting ready for exercise, etc. This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you’re missing, but never feeling satisfied. When you’ve started your day with doing awesome (not necessarily difficult) things for yourself, these distractions start to feel like a waste of time. You check Facebook just to make sure you’re not missing anything important directed at you, but scrolling down and reading random stuff in your feed feels like stepping out into the Disneyland parking lot to listen to what’s playing on the car radio — a complete waste of time compared to what you’re really doing today.

Very well said. I totally agree with this philosophy. Though I try to follow this philosophy many times, I fail to follow it consistently for good length of time. But I’m not going to give up. I need to follow this discipline again more consistently. Writing this blog post can be considered as producing my own thoughts instead of just consuming a Reditt thread.

Why I believe in this philosophy?

The short answer is — producing helps us grow. If you observe your consumption activity, most of the times it’s a passive activity. When we’re watching a TV or online Video, or reading a news or blog article, for the most of the part we tend to believe in what the content producer is telling us. We rarely think on our own while we’re consuming something. So we don’t develop our own view points and our own thinking. While I agree leisure time and rest is important, and we need to consume something entertaining without thinking much. But too much of this behavior becomes a habit and eventually it makes us weak as over the period we stop thinking.

On the contrary, when you produce something, you stretch your mind. You come out of your comfort zone, stretch your own limits, and you think on your own! You develop your own view point. Every single producing exercise is a great learning experience on many different levels — sometimes tangible and sometimes intangible. But with this constant habit of producing something, you continue to grow — both personally and professionally.

If that’s the case, then is consuming totally useless?

Of course not. While I agree that being just a consumer is not a good thing, I strongly believe that consuming is just as important as producing. If there are no consumers, then there won’t be any producers, and vice-versa as well. So we need both — producers and consumers. We just need to follow a discipline to do both things with good balance. To produce some great stuff, you also need to consume new information, knowledge, and ideas. So you definitely need to consume what interests you. But you also need to put certain limit on it and make sure it doesn’t become just mindless consumption. In day to day life, I would give more emphasis on producing something meaningful, but at the same time, I would allocate some time to consume something relevant and thought provoking — ideally something which will even inspire me to produce something new.

So what should you produce more and consume less?

The first thing — you need to believe that you need invest more time on producing than that you spend on consuming. Producing could mean your day-to-day office work, home tasks, replying to important emails, writing a blog post, or even Tweeting some interesting insights of your own (not retweeting someone else’s blog post link). Even during your day-to-day work — brainstorming new ideas, architecting new design, programming some function — falls into bucket of producing Vs just attending meetings & presentations, or reading programming articles or books — falls into bucket of consuming. Similarly, just watching funny videos or someone else’s photos, watching TV serials or sports channels is most of the times mindless consumption. We just need to limit the time we spend on these consumption activities.

Final thoughts

Again, both producing and consuming activities are important, you just need to find a way to produce more stuff than what you are consuming. At the end of the day, it’s the right amount of balance will make you feel proud, enriched and excited Vs exhausted and less motivated. Hope this blog post will inspire you to produce more stuff — let it be hacking a project in the part-time, writing a blog post, painting some picture, or anything which excites you, and pushes your limits and make you think. Happy producing!


Originally published at aditya.kothadiya.com on February 8, 2012.