Friday, 23 June 2017

I realise this is probably a hard question to ask yourself - or to ask the client. But the truth is, we can all get easily sidetracked and start focusing on the wrong thing. It's especially true if we tend to be fighting constant fires on a project.

Getting stuck in the fireman role as a PM on projects can lead to doing many things out of order or just plain wrong. It can become easy to lose sight of what has brought you success along the way and just get mired in the problem issues of the day. Why? That's what is screaming at you the loudest right now.

The key is to keep sticking to best practices. Yes, run down the issues. Yes, answer the customer questions. Yes, write that big press release the customer or your management is waiting for on the latest status of the big project rollout on which you're working.

You cannot ignore those critical requests from above. But if they aren't critical, then put them off. Keep in mind - you'll have to try to make that call on your own. Anything management wants right now; they will tell you it's critical even if it's not to those of us living in the real world.

As a project manager, what should you be focusing on today - right this very minute? Let's consider.

Focus on the Top Priority
I say multitasking is overrated. I say you cannot do it and perform at the top of your game. So what's important today? What's important right now at 2:34 pm? What should I be doing now to get things done, to make progress on the project, to make my project customer happy? What is the top priority for me to tackle today or this afternoon?

Don't just zone out or do what feels best. Do what is the biggest priority. And if two or three things are big, pick one you can knock off quickly first. Then move to the next one.

Think About Best Practices
Do you think about best practices on your project? Not just PM best practices, but overall business best practices? Are you well-prepared for your next status call? Will you be? Are you ready for your next team meeting? What does your team need from you right now?

If you're looking for something beneficial to do, try gathering everyone on the team together. Discuss internal lessons learned. Then see what you can think of to improve project performance and how you're all performing right now.

Why Are You Behind?
Is your project behind schedule? Maybe the focus is an issue? Does your team know what they should be doing? Are there any team members continually lagging behind on their tasks?

Perhaps they are overloaded with yours and other projects. Have a discussion - you may find you have the wrong resource. Or you may find you need an additional resource part-time to supplement their work.

What Opportunities Do You Have to Make Your Project Better Right Now?
What action can you take to improve your project right now? Present a business need to executive management and gain their buy-in for some much-needed assistance. Call the customer and see if there are any specific needs or concerns they feel need addressing. Meet your team to see if you have all bases covered at the moment. Take a full day away from other projects to do some catch-up, planning and strategising on this project.

Look around - maybe there's some potential work the client has mentioned that you could draw up a proposal for that would result in a change order - making everyone happy. (You and your company get more revenue. Your client gets a new need filled.)

Sometimes we get so bogged down in the daily activity of our project that we get tunnel vision. We're so overloaded with what we think we should be doing that we forget to stop and step back a couple of feet to figure out what we REALLY should be doing.

For a good chunk of this past year, I was suffering with depression.

Life felt thick and heavy. My motivation was at an all time low. I cried all the time. My parents were worried about me.

One of my best friends passed away, I went through a challenging breakup, and I’m more genetically prone to depression than a lot of people. I was in a multi-month funk and I could feel my brain’s reward centre being totally shut down. The things that used to make me happy didn’t make me happy anymore.

When I finally acknowledged that I was likely struggling with some ongoing situational depression, I went into research mode (as I do).

The data didn’t look good…

Apparently, treated (aka medicated) depressive episodes averaged 3-6 months in length, and untreated (non-medicated) depressive episodes lasted an average of 6-9 months.

Being as stubborn as I always am, I thought to myself, “I wasn’t included in this study. Those statistics don’t apply to me.”

For me, medication is always a last resort. I wanted to do whatever I could to cure my depression naturally, without drugs.

The following seven science-backed things are the highest leverage tools that I used to overcome my depression naturally in under a month. In fact, many of the following tips have been proven to be just as effective (if not MORE effective) than medication for depression.

(Side note: I’m not a doctor. Do your own research. Consult a doctor if you’re really worried. Some depressed people will need drugs to get out of their depressive episodes and that’s just fine).

7 Things You Can Do To Cure Your Depression Naturally

Spoiler alert: rubbing dandelions on your face is not one of the seven tips.
When you’re depressed, your motivation is at an all time low. It can be difficult to make yourself breakfast, or even get out of bed when you’re really in it.

Because of this, I’ve included a ‘seed habit’ tip in each section. The seed habit in each section is the easiest and most immediately actionable way to get yourself to engage in the behaviour, without having to overcome a major hurdle each time you lean into it. Think of it like your quick-start, easier-to-implement action step that you can take on today in order to get yourself on the fast track to feeling better.

1. Exercise

You’ve heard me harp on this point in at least a dozen other articles for a reason.

Exercise rewires/heals your brain, it boosts your self-esteem, and it releases endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (happy chemicals) that play an important part in regulating your brain’s functioning and your mood.

During my depression, I thought of exercising as my medication. I told myself that exercising at least three times per week was my non-negotiable, had-to-be-done thing. If I wasn’t going to try any drugs, then exercise would be my medicine.

Even if it feels absolutely ridiculous or pointless, just try it. Work up a sweat… you’ll feel better.

Exercise – seed habit: Enlist the help of a friend and go outside/to the gym/play sports a few times per week and you’ll feel slightly more human. By asking someone else to keep you accountable you’ll be that much more likely to actually do it. Make the exercise that you engage in something that you find moderately enjoyable and it’ll be that much more compelling.

Having just hiked a mountain with my dad.
2. Eat the right foods

If you eat nutrient-stripped, overly processed foods, you’re going to feel like shit. Garbage in, garbage out.

To the best of your ability, eat a diet loaded with vegetables, lean proteins, and fruit. Too much sugar, caffeine, alcohol/drugs, and (for some people) dairy and grains will lead to a lot of inflammation and bad/erratic moods. If you can’t muster up the energy to make your own nutrient-dense, home made meals, then ask a friend, family member, or significant other to make your meals for you.

(To be Continued)

I wouldn't say that life of medical students is a path laden with rose petals, but it isn't full of thorns either.

I dropped a year to prepare for medical entrance exams and that was by far the most difficult year of my 18 years on Earth.

And then happened college! I got into one of the best medical colleges and life was full of balloons and candies! All relatives were giving my example to other kids of the family, neighbours were coming to our house every other day to congratulate me.

I wish this phase lasted a little longer. Because once the daily torture of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry started, all those congratulation gifts were forgotten (JK, I loved anatomy :P ) but the constant tests, tutorials, vivas and written exams were killing me.

It was only a matter of time though, because we medical students already face the worst times preparing for entrances, and this new kinda torture doesn't make us give up so easily!

Then came the best part! My college is situated in the posh South Delhi! And in the 1.5 years of my MBBS, my friends and I have eaten at every minutely famous eatery :P we have been to every monument and mall in Delhi! We go to comedy shows every now then, go for night outs and squeeze discounts with our ID at every fair/fest!

Hauz Khas Village is our home ground and CP is our Adda now.

And once we visited everything around at least twice, we went to IIT Bombay for their fest, to Agra (for an impromptu weekend getaway).

Yes, medical education is tough. No doubt! we mug up thousands of pages of text books for exams. But we also spend thousands of rupees to make up for the daily hardwork :P

We try to attend every conference for medical students here and make new friends ! We organize many awareness events and seminars and these activities also get us brownie points from our professors :P

These pictures are from the most recent Agra trip and a conference on Organ donation we recently attended.

We witness life and death every day in the hospitals and see patients telling their dear ones their last wishes. Perhaps, this makes us a lil more immune to all the hardships of medical profession.

We may not know how to make lemonade when life throws lemons at us, but we definitely know the alternatives to all the bitter medicines we are given by Dr. Life.

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