In 2018, I moved to Bangalore after joining SellerCrowd, a fully-remote company. While making the move, I realized and acknowledged the fact that maintaining a healthy lifestyle would be a challenge as I’ll mostly work from the comfort of my home.
Prior to this remote gig, I was with Wingify in Pune and was quite physically active during the time as:
Wingify had a big office that facilitated movement throughout the day.
There were a few football courts nearby my house so I was playing twice every week.
Pune’s traffic was less taxing so I spent my evenings meeting friends or go & eat in different parts of the city.
All that kept me moving and as a result, in good shape.
Now, after moving to Bangalore in 2018, I kept myself active by practicing yoga in the morning and some cycling around the neighborhood + some occasional training at the apartment’s gym.
About 6 months passed with just yoga and cycling but I still felt that I needed to get involved in some other sports/physical activities. This was mostly because I was practicing yoga nominally from my house and cycling was not quite fun because Bangalore‘s traffic isn’t a pleasure to cycle in. + I missed playing football too.
One evening while making my trip to my apartment’s gym half-heartedly, I noticed that a few kids were shouting in sync in the yoga room – which is just beside the gym. I went to peek and to my surprise, there was a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) session going on full-fledgedly.
I smiled, skipped gym that day and just stood there and watched the session go by. After the session got over, I went over to the instructor and without even asking what he’s going to teach me or how much time it’ll take me to go from White to Black belt (levels), I said: “I want to enroll in this class”.
Later when I thought about it, enrolling myself in the MMA class was a no brainer. Mostly because of my fascination towards close-combat fighting scenes I used to watch while growing up. Yes, I am talking about those Jackie Chan movies and Karate documentaries on Discovery channel and I was always intrigued by seeing these actors/athletes doing amazing stunts and at the same time being capable of defending themselves in tensed situations as a result of their training.
And that’s something I think I want to learn i.e.:
Having strength, flexibility, and more stamina
Capability to defend myself in tensed situations
Anyway, long story short, I enrolled about a year back and have been learning and practicing the basics under White belt. Last month I had my first belt exam and I graduated to Yellow belt!! 😀
FYI – The form that I am learning is called Goju-ryu which is one of the main traditional Okinawan (Japanese) styles of karate. The belt or levels starts with White (which I started with), and then people progress to Yellow (my current), followed by Orange, Green, Blue, Purple, Brown, Red, and Black. The change of belt color denotes the hard work and discipline that a student has put into mastering the art.
Well, that’s a brief summary of belts and the art form that I am learning. I’ll keep writing about my experience in MMA as I progress further. Till then, here’s a video of me performing a basic kata – Kata Junino.
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I started my Facebook account around July of 2007. If I remember correctly, 2006-2009 was a time when people were using Orkut (ha!) and later moved to Facebook. It’s been more than 12+ years for me and millions of others, being on Facebook. Since then, tech-giants have poured enormous resources to build many similar social platforms – fighting for our attention span and making money in the process.
Cut to 2019, we now have more social platforms than we actually need to stay connected. Facebook these days feels like a black hole to kill time. Instagram feels like a machine built to churn more pretentious and narcissistic humans. Twitter has everyone converse to look intellectually superior.
Facebook these days feels like a black hole to kill time. Instagram feels like a machine built to churn more pretentious and narcissistic humans. Twitter has everyone converse to look intellectually superior.
Given our use case, the pros of being on one of these social platforms under-weigh the cons.
For the last 2 years, my social media usage has gone up to about 2+ hours/day. While I shared something on a daily basis and it only took a few mins to post, I kept going back to check activity, many times a day. Sometimes it’s a ping from a friend. Sometimes it’s the curiosity of who’s liked or commented on my photo. Sometimes it’s just to refresh my brain with memes. But most of the time, it is my brain that has re-wired to grab my phone or computer and open one of these sites to check what’s new.
When I looked at the data (screenshot below) I found out that I spend over 1400+ hours every month on social media sites. That’s a lot of hours. That’s largely FOMO at play.
In recent years, a lot of research, interviews, and articles on social media companies have shed light on the dark practices that go inside to keep us hooked.
New notification types like “A photo of you from a year back”, “someone ABC visited your profile”, “People you follow have posted an image”, etc are all deployed to bring us back and spend more time. Instagram at one point (for a few months) started showing a red badge (indicating something unread or new) beside the “Open Facebook” CTA on Instagram – which was completely irrelevant to Instagram users and is a prime example of dark design pattern to bring users back by any means.
The addiction to open social apps follows us everywhere. When traveling, I noticed that I am spending more time sharing photos rather than enjoying the new country, getting to know the local people or experiencing their culture. Although I did enjoy going to places and was only spending about 30-60 mins posting photos each day, I do feel that I should have used that time to enjoy the place more vs. spending my travel time posting updates online.
Photos can always be shared later, no?
Furthermore, I realized that my addiction to social apps is also hampering my professional life. A few months back, I started reading this book called “Deep work” and just within 20-30 pages, the book made it very clear that in order to produce high-quality work, to think and solve complex problems, to build a focused mind, one MUST have a distractive free environment – leading to a focused and attentive brain.
The research is clear on how using social media apps on a regular basis rewires our brain to have a shorter span of focus time. We start finding it harder to sit and focus on the task at hand for more than a few minutes. At the same time, we also start craving smaller sets of dopamine hits more and more. Soon, we find ourselves constantly switching tabs, jumping apps to see activity, chatting with multiple people at once, watching short clips on YouTube, etc. While all that “work-&-play” in today’s startup culture might sound fun at the beginning, the damage it’s doing is really serious.
For example, I have been wanting to redo my portfolio website for 3+ years now. Every year, I add it to my to-do list but hardly make any progress. This is largely due to the fact that my focus is not my priority and hence my priorities are not in focus. I am spending too much time posting micro-life updates, checking who’s commenting or liking pictures and then repeating the cycle again by planning what updates should be next. It’s not that I haven’t tried bringing my focus back to important goals, but as I mentioned earlier, a lack of shorter attention span and being focused way too much on my “social-media life” has hampered my attention span quite a lot. So much so that I can’t even sit for 1-2 hours straight and see through things at a stretch.
My focus is not my priority and hence my priorities are not in focus.
Worth noting that a lot of people can sit for a longer period of time but that isn’t the proxy of their non-addiction with social media apps. Shorter attention span is just one of the many side-effects of being addicted to social media. Some can’t focus. Some become narcissistic. Some have no real social life. Some start spending $$$ to look cooler online. The list just goes on.
Another big reason why I felt like taking a step back from using social media was that I didn’t want my morning to start with other people’s posts, pictures, and news. I want my mornings to start with a fresh mind, without any biases or discomfort by looking at an endless feed of 200+ people. I want to experience where my thoughts go and maybe just journal them.
Side note – Journaling helps in channeling one’s thoughts, gives thoughts a structure on paper, and results in a calmer and a lot less chaotic mind in the long run.
And that’s what I want my brain to be. Calmer and less chaotic.
Lastly, a recent conversation with one of my friends also pushed me to think more about my immense love for social media and to start tackling the problem seriously. We were discussing our thoughts on our overuse of social media and he made a funny yet applicable comment about this habit of ours of posting life updates quite frequently on social apps. He commented:
Your life is not an Uber ride that you need to notify people that frequently
I knew right at that moment what sort of updates he’s drawing parallels with the ride app, Uber. Just like our Uber app/driver sends us messages at every turn like, “Hey, I have arrived” or “Hey, your ride has started”, etc., we’re also sending our life updates in a similar fashion.
For example, when we go to a new city, we send updates “Hey, arrived in xyz city”. When we’re hanging out in a cafe/restaurant, we add stories on Instagram “Having an amazing time at this cafe/restaurant”. There’s an update for every breath we take these days. It is endless, it is tiring, and it is non-value adding action, to say the least. This doesn’t mean that we should not share news/updates about our lives but I think we need to be asking ourselves the real reason we’re doing it for and then be discreet in how often we share these little-valued updates.
2 months ago, when all the WHYs finally sank in and I accepted that I was and am addicted to social media, I decided to take measures to cut back on my social media consumption. Below I am listing down a few ways I cut down my social media time. Worth noting that the general outline of these action items was “OUT OF SIGHT = OUT OF MIND”.
“OUT OF SIGHT = OUT OF MIND” can be explained as – If something addictive is NOT in front of you, it’s more likely that you’ll NOT crave and reach out for it.
For example, if you like smoking and see a pack of cigarettes lying around or someone else taking a puff, chances of you picking up that cigarette are more likely. So trick here is to keep the pack of cigarettes out of the sight.
Similarly, If you’re obese (or not) and just trying to cut back on fat, having that sweet cookie or fried snack at your dining table won’t let you achieve your goal so easily. Again, if it’s easily accessible, it’s harder to resist. And when it comes to breaking old habits, our willpower is usually weaker at the beginning but improves as we keep at it.
On that note, here are the actionable items that have helped me for 2+ months now in cutting back social media time:
I started using a different phone for social apps. While auditing my screen time, I realized that I am mostly accessing my social accounts using my smartphone and less via my computer’s browser. Hence, I deleted all the social apps from my main phone and installed them on a spare OnePlus phone. Once that’s done, I am keeping the OnePlus phone inside my wardrobe’s drawer, making it even harder to be in my viewport.
Turned off my notifications on both phones. Keeping the phone in a completely different room and a drawer is just half work done. To actually make my OnePlus phone unnoticeable, I turned off all notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Gmail, so I don’t get any sort of reminder that I have a phone full of distractions in my closet.
Setting a usage time every day. Creating rules are important while trying to form a new habit and breaking old ones. So rule #3 was to only use social apps during my evening time, after work hours and before going to bed. That is usually between 10 PM – 11 PM for me. Initially, I ended up going to my bedroom and using the phone to check notifications during the day too, but the urge slowly passed away as I progressed in this experiment.
Tip: Blocking your calendar just to check social apps can also help set the tone for this.
Delete shortcuts. Even after removing apps from my phone, installing them in a new phone, hiding the new phone in a closet, there was still a way that I could access these sites i.e. via my computer’s web browser. I had the shortcuts added on the Bookmark’s bar earlier for easy access, so I removed as them well.
Log out of social sites from my work and personal laptop. Along with removing the shortcuts from my Bookmark’s bar, I logged out of all the sites and deleted all saved passwords as well – ensuring it’s even harder for me to go to these sites on my computer and typing in passwords every time.
I’ve been trying to stay off of social media for about 2+ months now. It was hard at the beginning but the temptation to check activity has decreased a lot.
Earlier in November 2019, my overall monthly usage was around 1400+ hours. In 2 months, i.e. January 2020, I’ve managed to bring it down to under 400 hours.
Scorecard here is about a 73% decrease in social media usage over a period of 2 months. 🎉
One strategy that really helped in executing the above-mentioned methods was that I intentionally started this experiment when I was on a 3-week vacation – visiting family members.
Vacation time was a good time because I wasn’t expected to work and didn’t need a laptop. I also promised myself that I won’t work on any tech-based side project during that time. All I was doing during this time was hanging out with my cousins and just reading on my Kindle.
When I was back to my usual routine after 3 weeks of vacation, the benefits started to surface:
I felt more confident in resisting social media
I felt more present during my vacation time and even after coming back
My mornings, in random order, started feeling like a bliss. It kept going on-and-off but I definitely felt lighter and less cluttered mentally.
Since I am not spending 2+ hours every day on social media apps, I’ve allocated this time just to sit back and just do one activity during this time. For example, I’ll just sit back and drink tea, or call an old friend and catch up, or lie down on the sofa and just let my thoughts wander and watch them passively.
The feeling of FOMO has dialed down automatically. This has definitely decreased my anxiety levels. I am much calmer now.
And lastly, I am happy about the less screen-time I am able to achieve because of this – giving my eyes it’s own resting time.
Apart from my personal reasons, I kept coming across materials online which kept educating me on the side-effects of using social media apps on a regular basis. I am compiling the quotes/statements that stood out and convinced me further to reduce my usage of social media apps:
Dream conditioning – Paraphrasing, Leslie Coutterand here – she mentions that “through these social apps we see other people’s lives, where they’re eating, where they’re traveling to, which car they bought, what home they have, etc. All these pictures subconsciously affect our goals in the long run. Sooner than later, we forget our own dreams/desires/goals in life and start chasing goals or lifestyle that is socially validated or cheered.”
“If one is lacking acceptance, confidence, and security in their life, they get transfixed on getting a celebrity-like lifestyle because that’s how you get respect and attention according to media or social apps.” She calls it “media-driven dreams and ambitions to heal” one’s lack of self-worth.
“Social apps generate a feeling of need, lack and competition” – again, resulting in us doing things to prove our worth online.
“Tobacco just wanted your lungs, the app store wants your soul”
“What we find is the typical persona checks their phone every 15 minutes or less, and half of the time they check their phone, there’s no alert, no notification. It’s coming from inside their head, telling them: I haven’t checked Facebook in a while, I haven’t checked this Twitter feed for a while, I wonder if somebody commented on my Instagram post. That then generates cortisol and it starts to make you conscious and eventually, your goal is to get rid of that anxiety so you check in”
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If you’re wondering what my goal #1 and #2 are, I am yet to write about them. 😂 In the meantime, I am ready to talk about my 3rd goal for 2019 i.e. automating my home.
Well, It’ll be a side “hobby” and I’ll take it real slow. Things that I’ll automate are:
Cleaning (With a Robot Vacuum Cleaner which potentially has good mobile-app integration so I don’t have to be home to start the device)
Lights (voice-controlled with Phillips Hue Bulbs)
Fan (voice-controlled if I find a workaround with my existing fan system)
Geysers (voice-controlled with Smart plugs)
TV (By installing a separate RC signal with Raspberry-Pi)
This goal of automating the house comes from my long-lived fascination of 3 things:
Clean living environment – I am extremely fanatic about cleanliness. I’ve picked it up from my mom. Since the time I started living alone, I have always cleaned my house on my own. I don’t like dust getting accumulated for a longer period of time (2-3 days max is my threshold). Also, I don’t like unorganized stuff around me – this comes from being a designer as I am constantly trying to find symmetry and better layout in my designs and that transcends to my lifestyle as well. ✨
Productivity hacks – I have always gravitated towards the idea of improving productivity. I keep trying productivity hacks every now-and-then to better the output from what I already have, either for fun or for work. Although these experiments don’t lead to the desired output most of the times, irrespective of that, I do like to optimize little/big things around me. (P.S. I mostly do it for fun/learning. I am not a productivity-Hitler). 👨💻
Automation – Since the day I read the book, The 4 Hour Workweek, I started thinking about automating stuff that either takes a lot of time to get done or that I do not enjoy doing repetitively. For example, I like to prepare my breakfast and order lunch & dinner every day but then again, sometimes I just don’t want to. So I automated this part of my toutine with a service like Eat.Fit in Bangalore. Similarly, in my day job as a Product Designer, I introduced a design system so it can automate the component update process through all my mockups and hence speed up my design process (Read about why design systems are important here: Brad Frost’s Blog. 🤖
So what first?
I have always cleaned my house myself. I used to do dust-cleaning and mopping every weekend when I was in Pune. But then I moved to a bigger house in Bangalore. While dust cleaning was still manageable, mopping floor every weekend used to take a lot of time and effort. So finally, I started mopping every alternate weekend And for dust cleaning, I bought a hand-held vacuum cleaner last year expecting it to make my life easier. And honestly, it did make my life easier as mopping (a harder task) was down from 4x to 2x every month. 💪
But here’s the twist. In India, houses pick up dust easily because they’re mostly surrounded by busy roads and construction sites. Yes, the construction never stops in this country and we barely use any tools to isolate dust at construction sites. This led me to automate the dust-cleaning process for my house once and for all.
So, I am taking the first step towards automation by buying a vacuum robot to automate floor dust-cleaning. After researching a lot on Vacuuming Robots made by companies like iRobot, Dyson, and Xiaomi, it seemed like all of them were doing the same job quite decently but the prices varied a lot because of the brand names. Xiaomi’s robot seemed like the best of the lot as it was 1/2th the price of iRobot and 1/4th the price of a Dyson robot. Plus this was my first try at vacuuming robots, so I didn’t want to spend a lot and finding that my money wasn’t worth it.
The Xiaomi’s Robot Vaccum Cleaner collects dust from the floor as far as it can see and reach; it cleans in a systematic path vs a random one and if the battery gets low while cleaning, it goes to the charging dock, charges itself and resumes back from the same spot. The best part is that it comes with a really intuitive app developed by Xiaomi itself. Have a look below.
After buying this robot and using it for 8+ weeks now, I can attest that I wake up to a clean house every day without having to worry about it. Dust accumulation has gone down and because of that, I am mopping the house only alternate weekends or maybe less. As for the robot maintenance, the dust is very easy to dispose off as it gets contained in a filter box, so that’s also an “easy” one and contributes to less work/time spent on robot maintenance. ✅
In a nutshell, I’ve been using this for 8+ weeks now and I think this will be one of my best return-on-investment purchases of 2019. 💰
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Back in 2013, I started this blog to document my professional and personal journey. There was no theme that I wanted to run this blog on. I didn’t want it to be focused too much design, my travel journey or to give “gyan” all the time. I kept doing stuff offline & online that was interesting to me and I just felt like jotting them down so I can keep them somewhere on the web.
My goal back then was to just write 1 blog a month but I was never consistent. I barely wrote more than 1 in 2018. So starting this year, I am going to start blogging again. Nothing big, just 1 blog per month. That’s what I promised myself back in 2013 and that’s what I am going to try from now on.
So, on those lines, what’s a better way than to start other than by reflecting on what happened/what kept me busy in 2018. Actually, a lot happened which is worthy of mentioning here, but I think I can bucket them in certain themes and that’s what I’ll highlight in this post. So without further ado, here are a few key moments from 2018. ✌
1. Got a new remote job 👨💻
Since college days, I very much liked the idea of working remotely and fancied it more so after reading the book “The 4-Hour Workweek”. It took me a while (around 4 years) to make the switch from a typical corporate job but I think the journey in between helped me gain a better perspective about the job industry which in-turn made the remote job hunting (comparatively) easy.
I’ll complete a year of remote work this month (January 2019) and I’ve really enjoyed every bit of 2018, to say the least. There’s so much happened only because of this remote job that I can spend days jotting them down here. But, it’s just one blog post and I wanted to write only about the major highlights, so…here are a few notable things that happened because of my new remote job/lifestyle:
More “me” time. Having a regular 9-to-5 office job means a couple of hours being spent on getting ready, commuting daily, water-cooler conversations, etc., which I don’t have to deal with anymore. I now have more time in my hands which I can use to spend on other activities that I like (or just simply relax more.) 💆♂️
More traveling. Since the job is remote, I’ve traveled more in a year than I’d have done in 2-3 years combined if I were in a day job. To sum it up, I traveled to 5 countries, 23 cities, and 169 places. That’s Google being meticulous, not me. More on my travels below 🧭
Improved communication skills. Since my company is pretty distributed and we have people from all around the world, acing in communication becomes a must have. Although my English wasn’t that bad, but I think it was pretty average. Working with colleagues, communicating with them over Slack day-in-&-out and interacting with them personally face-to-face during team trips have definitely helped me polish my English even more. 💪
Better understanding of different cultures. Last year, I traveled in quite a decent amount (work related or otherwise) to meet office colleagues and other remote workers/travelers who come from various ethnic backgrounds. Getting to know about their culture, their way of living, what is acceptable and not acceptable in their cultures, and many other nitty-gritties has enriched and broadened my perspective about the world. Learning about these differences first hand is an undoubtedly valuable and fun experience. 👨👩👧👧
Less gossip. I am the kind of person who gets into gossip easily, I admit. So a remote job works best for people like me as I hardly get any chance to gossip about anything with anyone over a Slack chat. Telecommuting just makes it harder to get into stupid habits that a corporate day-job offers by default. 🤐
2. Moved to Bangalore 🏡
So after taking up the remote job in late January 2018, I wanted to stay back in Pune for a while to give myself some time to understand what sort of work routine and lifestyle I’ll have going forward. I had the comfort of a cute small studio apartment, friends from Wingify (my previous company) to have a quality social life and football games going twice every week to stay fit and happy.
But slowly, all my friends started moving out of Pune to join companies in different locations. Gradually, this left me alone in Pune with very few social connections. And also, living in a studio apartment served me well till the time I was working with Wingify. A small house doesn’t bite you when you work in a bigger office throughout the week and you just have to be in your studio apartment for 70-80% of the weekend. But soon the smaller space and lack of friends started biting me, so I decided to move to a bigger house and to a city where I already have my friends.
Bangalore seemed like the default choice for my next home as it already had a few of my friends working there, I liked the city’s urban culture and it already had a well-established design community which wasn’t there in Pune, mostly because Pune didn’t have a decent amount of design-centered IT companies, and Bangalore had plenty.
Thankfully I wasn’t making the switch blindly based on what I had heard about the design community in Bangalore. In 2017, I came to Bangalore for a 2-day trip to attend this design event called DesignUp which literally convinced me to make the move. The sheer presence of the designers (and other IT professionals) was amazingly vibrant and supportive. I had to be in Bangalore. ✊
Finally, I made the move to Bangalore in June last year, shifted to a bigger house and was busy setting up the house which is functional for a remote employee like me. Along those lines, “How to set up a house which allows remote work” is a bigger topic that I will cover in a separate blog post.
3. Traveled quite a lot 🗺
Working for a remote company allows you to just be anywhere. All you need is a good working internet connection and laptop (+most of your work on the cloud). This allowed me to experiment with my travel plans exactly how I imagined after reading the book “4 Hour Workweek”. Here are a few highlights:
Traveled to Madrid, Spain: My 2018’s travel journey kicked off by flying to Madrid, Spain for my company’s get together. The day I was flying to Madrid was the day I was joining my new company and It was definitely a first for me i.e. to be able to fly and get on-boarded in a new country, in your new job and on your first day. 🤯
Traveled to Ooty, India: After Madrid, I traveled and worked from Ooty with my brother for about 10 days.
Went home twice this year for 2+ weeks/visit: Again, I think going back to your hometown for straight 2+ weeks in one go is something that is highly unlikely to be allowed by most companies in India. Here, we do have policies like “WFH” and/or “Unlimited leaves”, but they’re mostly a marketing tactic to attract talent and never let anyone reap the benefits. And being remote gives you this location freedom by default. 🎒
Lived outside India for about 1.5 months: This was my first outside-India experiment where I traveled to a new country/city and worked. It wasn’t a vacation but it sure looked/felt like one. I was traveling with my friend who’s also a remote worker to de-risk the cons of traveling alone for the first time (if any). It was amazing and I’ll be doing it this year as well. If you’re interested, you can check the pictures from the trip here.
Lastly, traveled to Lisbon, Portugal: I spent my first few weeks of December 2018 in Lisbon. It was for another team get together for 3 weeks. Loved Lisbon more than Madrid as it has a different vibe and felt more homely. 🧡
I don’t think any day-job would offer this flexibility of being able to work from anywhere and anytime you want. Hence, I’ve come to believe that having a lifestyle that you desire is something is only possible for remote workers, freelancers and/or a CEO/people at executive positions in companies.
4. Made yoga somewhat a habit 🧘♂️
I started doing yoga after going remote. I was used to moving a lot when I was in Wingify as they had pretty big office there. But after going remote and working from home, comparatively, you move quite less. To tackle that, I started doing yoga in Pune but was less frequent there. After moving to Bangalore, I have tried doing yoga at least 4-5 times a week which is quite a good start IMHO.
5. Became completely debt free 💸
I studied Automotive Engg. on an education loan but didn’t finish my college degree. Irrespective of that, I had to pay the loan and it was a hefty amount. This year in April, I finished off my education loan by fast-tracking the payout. The feeling of clearing that debt can’t be expressed in words. 🙂
With that feeling of financial freedom, I decided right at that moment that I am not going to take any big loans in near future. Past few years of working towards paying out my education loan acted (and still acts) as a good reminder of how life can be less flexible when you have a big loan on your head. You can’t leave your job to relax a bit, you can’t start a business if you want, you can’t take another loan, so on and so forth. In short, you become risk-averse. So yeah, no more loans in foreseeable future and I am quite proud of getting that debt off. 🤠
Other than that, in 2018, there are things that happened in between, small and big. But I don’t want to write about everything here. I do post regularly on my social channels and if you’re interested, you can follow me there.
2017’s second half has been all about bitcoin/cryptocurrencies. You could have easily noticed your relative, close friend, colleague or any random person on the internet go crazy about bitcoin/cryptocurrencies in the last couple of months.
Among all, the most typical comments from people who are into buying/selling bitcoin/cryptocurrencies were like: “Bitcoin is going up!”, “You know bitcoin just hit $xxxxx!”, “Bitcoin is the next big thing! I bet my life!”, “If you’d have bought bitcoins 3 months ago, you’d have tripled your money by now.”. Yes, I hear and see all that happening. But I also see your desperation to make quick money and get rich the easy way. It’s a fucking propaganda!
Let me give you the truth on point-blank – Most people I know who invested in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies don’t care about the implications (+positive or -negative) blockchain or cryptocurrencies will bring. All they care about is how much money they can make in the shortest way/time possible. Plus you’ll notice people who have invested in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies will constantly encourage or shame people into buying cryptocurrencies they have bought, because:
That’s how they justify their biased and idiotic decision in investing in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies
That’s how they increase the value of bitcoin/cryptocurrencies. The more people put faith and invest in something, the more it’s worth goes up. It’s also about comforting themselves when the bubble burst and it’s not just them who took a hit or went bankrupt, it’s their friends and family as well. That’s psychologically comforting.
There’s nothing wrong in that, but in the short run, with induced FOMO (Fear of missing out), FUD (Fear, uncertainty, and doubt) and Peer pressure, it harms two entities:
The majority who invested in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies for the sake of making money is affecting the real impact cryptocurrencies can bring ASAP i.e. helping individual/merchants/businesses adopt bitcoin once it settles down with its volatility and brings multiple benefits to transactions globally. For more clarity on the benefits of bitcoin/cryptocurrencies, watch this video.
That majority itself ends up spending a lot of time and energy making a short-term quick buck in peer pressure while losing sight of what’s really important to them in the moment. (Ex. my friend keeps on checking his phone multiple times while conversing with colleagues, playing TT or Fifa, and while eating too)
With that in mind, let me tell you why I haven’t invested in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies and neither planning to invest in near future. Here’s why:
I don’t want to involve myself in the hassle/stress of when bitcoin/cryptocurrencies are going up or down. I want to live in the moment. When you invest in things that are volatile and is changing every second, it requires your attention to the full extent. It’s not bitcoin’s/cryptocurrencies’ fault. It’s just how it is and it needs your attention. So for me, living in the moment has greater value than giving my 24×7 attention to making few quick bucks.
I don’t care how much money it’ll multiply me. I don’t get swayed away by FOMO/FUD/Peer pressure. I make enough to live happily every month, buy things I want (sometimes by waiting few months to save – that’s also fun + you value the things you buy with your saved money), travel 1-2 international countries every year. The logic here is that if I keep on running or say yes to every money-making opportunity world presents me with, my purpose is lost. There’s no value to uphold. There’s no focus.
The repercussions of developing the habit/taste of making quick money are very dangerous. Investment in the real world doesn’t work that way. You don’t multiply your money 100%, 200% or more in just 3 months. Usually, the return on investment rates is ~4% to ~25% throughout the investment industry.
I am a creative person. I want my time and energy to go into the creative work I am doing, towards my personal and professional goals, towards my fitness, towards making new memories with friends or loved ones, or maybe towards nurturing myself. There are tons of things I have in mind that’ll make me happier if I do/achieve them compared to multiplying my money 1x-5x in the short-term.
But you might say that “oh, but you are earning decent money and maybe that’s why you don’t care”.
Here’s why it’s bullshit: How many people you know who are/were broke but started investing in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies? I know none. I have not seen a poor guy or someone who’s broke has started investing in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies. Everyone who has invested moderately/heavily in Bitcoin/cryptocurrencies is earning or has earned a decent amount of money. Plus if you’re poor/broke and you’ve put money in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies, you’re not investing, you’re gambling. Yes, you read that right! Investing in something without knowing what it does or really means, equals to gambling.
So think twice before investing in things that promise you quick/more return in the shortest time possible. DON’T fall into propaganda.
P.S.: This post is not about robbing you of your opportunity of investing in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies or into anything else. Just by writing this post, I, for myself, am making sure that wherever my time and energy goes, it’s giving me the most value in return in terms of feeling joy, feeling content and feeling worthy (mostly the qualitative metric rather than quantitive). And I get that one cannot apply the same filter to everything that’s happening in life, but bitcoin/cryptocurrencies just don’t cut it to my to-do list when it comes to feeling accomplished for reasons I mentioned above. And I hope that this post will help someone gain that same perspective and choose better for themselves instead of investing in bitcoin/cryptocurrencies or any other quick-money-making investment opportunity in future.
2016 has been an interesting and learning year for me. Both personally and professionally.
Personally, I was into my new relationship and was learning to adapt to differential habits we as humans have. It’s interesting how we want everyone else to be like us i.e. force our likings/habits and in the process ruin the relationship altogether. My learning from this is to embrace difference we all have as humans. I am still learning and it’s a long way to go.
Professionally, 2016 was more like reading/learning year for me. I didn’t design much but was reading about design and product development/management. My learning from this journey is that don’t just read articles or watch videos, put them into action. Plus, do one thing at a time and keep your mind focused on one goal until you get a good grip on it. Pretty obvious, right?! Well everyone has their right to their mistakes – a Good mistake that I did, was taking up too many projects at work and doing average in all of them. A year passed and from a design point of view in my career, I was at the same place I was in 2015. I grew very little in terms of enhancing/developing my design skills. Again, that’s another story for another blog post.
This blog post is about a new habit that I am trying to adopt lately. It’s about finding happiness by owning less. It’s about clearing up space around, both physically and mentally for the things that matter the most. It’s about reducing stress while increasing satisfaction and thus happiness in life. It’s about practicing Minimalism in every aspect of life.
This realization of practicing and putting minimalism in place came sudden and strong when I moved to a new apartment this year. In past 3 years, I’ve moved to 4 new apartments, all in 4 different locations/neighbourhood.
House #1 [Delhi]
House #2 [Delhi]
House #3 [Pune]
House #4 [Pune]
This constant change has led me to know more about the things I own. Every time I move to a new apartment, I come across things that I haven’t used for ages, but still kept them for any x number of reasons.
This year, while moving to my 3rd apartment, I noticed that I wasn’t using about 20%-30% of my total stuff and probably will not in near future as well. To give the gist, I had 2-3 shirts that I never wore, a small fridge that I wasn’t going to use because I live in a fully-furnished apt. now which has a bigger fridge, 2-3 extra bed sheets, 3 blue inked extra ball point pens, 2 same color highlighters, so on and so forth.
It was clear that I have hoarded a lot and using very less of my stuff. I’ve tried shedding things in the past but I do it when I am free or have nothing to do on a weekend. But this time I wanted to take this seriously and make this a habit. I needed to shed my belongings.
[Side note: If you’re struggling to see the value in adopting minimalism, don’t read further. Go and read why & how Joshua Becker, Joshua, Ryan and Leo Babauta adopted minimalism.]
Starting this year, among my other new year resolutions, I decided to audit my belongings, from big to medium to the smallest thing that I keep, I’ll audit everything, every 3-4 months. But in order to audit them in the most effective manner, I needed a system where I can track all my useless belongings better so later I can come back to it and decide to throw, donate, or sell.
Here’s how I am doing it:
I am auditing every section of my house every 3rd or 4th month depending upon my availability and stuff hoarded along the way. After shedding a little in the last 6 months, I still have 3 closets to review.
I have divided 4 sections for 4 weekends for the audit month. For example, I’ll audit kitchen the 1st weekend, bedroom room on 2nd, washroom on 3rd, and if anything is left, I am keeping the 4th weekend for that. Since I live in a studio apt., I don’t have rooms i.e. there’s only one room which has attached kitchen and washroom + a small balcony, but dividing them into sections is still easy.
Maintain a note – Track everything. I am using Evernote to keep track of things that I am not using. You can use a notebook or a A4 paper. Don’t let this be an excuse. Just use anything to remember what you’re not using and can shed. Ex:
Action time! Sell, donate or throw – Just do it! Once I’ve identified the items I’m not using or going to use, from different rooms/sections of my house, I decide what to do with them. I am using a combination of The 20-20 Method and The KonMari Method to decide what to do with my items. [I’ve explained what both of these rules mean below]
Rules you can follow:
You can use different rules or a combination of them while auditing and deciding what to do. I’ll list 3 of them here:
The KonMari Method™ by Marie Kondosays (simplifying here) that if your belongings don’t spark joy when you hold them or when you’re around them, you should discard them. This is quite subjective and needs to be understood before applying.
One Job, Multiple solutions Method says if you have multiple items for doing the same job, you can just keep one and shed the rest. For example, if you have 10 pens and you usually use 1-2 of them, you should shed the rest. People often keep things for the sake of keeping it. A lot of us are hoarders in general and like to collect stuff. Remember that collecting for the sake of it, is dangerous. It adds up to your space mentally and physically. You’ll spend more time maintaining stuff that you don’t own compared to using that time to do something you love.
So what’s my progress?
I’ve started auditing my stuff this year but will be doing this more seriously now. Here are things that I’ve shed so far (with details):
This will be an ongoing process and I’ll keep updating this post. If you want to stay updated and follow me on my minimal journey, you can follow me on my Instagram Profile – I’ll be updating there too.
If you’re auditing your belongings or just starting up, I’d love to know your process and the journey so far. Feel free to mention in comments!
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I’ve been writing blog posts on to-dos, posting my yearly and monthly list of getting things done since quite some time – mostly to keep track and social accountability. It was fun and productive, but I’ve stopped writing about my to-dos since the start of year 2016 as I switched my job location and got a little busy, but relied on digital note keeping system, for the time being, using Evernote mostly.
As 2016 approaches to an end, I am reflecting back on good and bad things that happened and also the lessons learned from them. I’ll post about them in a separate blog post, but while jotting them down, I thought of starting my habit of writing yearly and monthly to-dos again.
Why? Because to give you the gist of 2016, I didn’t do any personal design related projects as I was mostly busy consuming information. Mostly from books, online articles, and videos. 2016 was much like a reading year for me. Not like I read 50 books. But I surfed a lot over the internet reading new and random stuff – not the most productive use of my time, but it happened.
I don’t regret spending time reading new stuff, but I could have managed my time better on several occasions only if I had made some goals. I made none and I wandered around aimlessly. There’s an argument about information in need vs. information in case which argues about whether we should consume information only when we need it the most, or we should consume to prepare ourselves for worst case scenario. I believe it can be both and that’s why few of the information I consumed, made me happy and few didn’t.
So from 2017 onwards, I’ll start making yearly and monthly goals. Again. I’ll use the same note-taking method (i.e. using a pen and a notebook/memo pad) I’ve used in the past 3 years since getting serious about being productive and methodological about my work, to get things done.
Basic rules I follow to get things done:
Use note keeping as a system to store every to-do to stay on top of everything that needs to be done.
Use pen and paper (a small notebook or a diary) to jot down those to-dos.
Here’s why I use a note keeping system and don’t rely on my brain power to remember things and also why I use a notebook or a diary for noting down my to-dos.
Why use note keeping as a system?
First, our mind has a very limited real-time memory which means we can’t store everything that we want to remember. Don’t believe me? Try remembering what you need to get done in a week starting from coming Monday till the weekend comes. I am sure that by the end of the week, you’ll find that you missed 60%-70% of the items that you first thought on day one i.e. Monday.
Second, our brains are working constantly to remember those items which are not really needed. That brain power could be used to do something else, something more important. By putting all those to-do items in a note keeping system, say in a diary, we’re freeing up space or brain power to do other things.
And third, a note keeping system is also a go-to point for revision, editing, adding new items and finally to refer to it time and again. We can’t do that with our limited brain power. When I dump everything I am thinking of in a notebook or a memo pad (which I mostly use), I become stress-free. I don’t work my brain out to remember those stuff anymore because I know that everything that I need to buy, to do or take action upon, is stored in a system that I can always go back to, refer and pick up.
Why use a pen and a paper for note keeping?
As much as I want to think and believe that note taking on a smartphone, laptop or any other digital device works, I have been proven wrong. For this year 2016, I completely tried sticking to digital systems for my note taking purpose.
Here’s how I started. The format was pretty basic in the start, i.e. to-dos listed in bullets. But later I moved on to a better layout. I was using Evernote most of the time for this.
After a year of using digital system for note keeping, which includes smartphone apps, Evernote, or notepad on laptop, I realized that it wasn’t working and might never work even at it’s best. Here’s why:
I used digital note keeping systems every day but found myself writing less to-do items. Mostly because it’s a digital device where I am taking a note which is connected to the internet and other applications. The distractions were huge. I found myself switching windows, replying to incoming messages or deviating to something completely unexpected on the device, like playing games. All in all, note keeping is best not done with systems that can increase our chances of getting distracted as we need to stay sharp and focused when making small or specifically big goals.
Ticking off something on paper with pen or pencil is way more satisfying and liberating compared to just clicking or tapping on something as done in a digital device. This feeling that I am talking about, can’t be expressed in words. You need to do it yourself in order to feel the difference and the joy it brings.
I also found myself writing more to-dos when I was writing them on my notebook compared to when I was writing them on my digital devices.
Now that you know the basics and the why, how and what of things. Let’s clear out more frequently asked questions so we can get things done in the best way possible.
I usually write one yearly, then few monthly to-do in a notebook and little to-dos in a memo pad. So big picture goes to my notebook and small and everyday to-do details goes to my memo pad.
To sum it up, getting things done is a piece of cake once you get the system and resources needed in place. Initially, you’ll struggle to keep up with the system i.e. you’ll forget to jot down little details, you’ll end up writing too many items on too many devices, or you’ll miss on to complete a lot of items you wrote. Remember this is not a fight to get everything done that you write, rather this is to practice and convert writing your to-do items in a piece of paper every day, month and year into a habit.
Happy getting things done and here’s a picture of all of my memo pad sheets till date 🙂 Cheers!
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A few months back my phone (Blackberry Z10) started being buggy, slow and non-responsive, so I had to buy a new phone. I bought a OnePlus 3.
For some context, I have also started working towards designing a clean and functional workspace since last 2 years. Here’s what my current workspace looks like (long way to go though):
More on the history and love of designing a great workspace in a separate blog post. Moving on, I wanted a phone holder for my new phone because of these reasons:
I spend most my time on my desk when I work on design/non-design related projects. So picking up my phone every time some notification has come up takes time and is annoying after a couple of times.
Just peeking what has come and moving along (if it’s not important) with the work that I am doing is preferred
I like things organized and clean around me
So I decided to make a phone holder instead of buying as I didn’t want to spend Rs. 500 or more in a good and sturdy phone holder. Below you’ll find steps to design your own phone holder and how much it can cost you. Here’s what the final model will look like:
So, here are the steps to design your own phone holder:
Ambition of big house, few expensive cars, global fame, a million dollars in the bank or a 7 figure salary or more, the list goes on. These are the things we, 20something put on our wish list. We keep dreaming of something more, something better and something bigger. It never ends. This is how we lose everything. This is how we lose our present, by chasing our materialistic and hence meaningless future.
We get to hear things like “chase your dreams”, “become successful” so on and so forth. The question is WHY. No one ever told us about why we actually need to find our passion, or what it really means to be successful. To be clear, success means different things to different people. We unknowingly, throw our definition of success onto our loved ones, close friends, and shockingly to strangers too.
I have to admit that this is what my parents did. In fact, this is what most parents do. They push on their dreams or their definition of success to kids and one starts to think that it’s the only way in life. One starts to believe that they have to earn loads of money, marry a beautiful girl, own a business, own a big car, do this or do that.
The point is we have been given a rulebook since our birth and we keep working to get that checklist done, given by our parents or by anyone for that matter. And that’s how we keep running, running, running and one day die.
While in reality, what we really need to do is chuck the rulebook and find what makes us happy (could also mean multiple things) and then make it a part of our daily life. I really love how Tim Ferriss (author of best selling book The Four Hour Work Week) defines passion or doing things that make us happy – he says “find and do those things that excite you”.
Since a decade or more now, articles, books, videos and people have been telling us adamantly that one should find his/her passion until they die. WRONG! I recently was having a conversation with one of my juniors from my college and we were arguing about why it is important to find your passion.
The truth is you don’t. It’s a lens that has been sold to us and will be sold, now and forever, which says “if you want to be happy, find your passion”. While in reality, I see a lot of people working in industries and companies which have nothing to do with their passion. But are they happy in their job? Hell yes!
So, I would like to take this opportunity to define success. For me, being successful means to be happy. Period.
Let me give you few examples how one might not find his/her passion in life but still be happy and indeed successful:
Many people work in a company or have a job that excites them. For example, a lot of people love doing human interactions and work in HR while their passion lies in music. They work happily in their day job, go back home and play that instrument they love.
A lot of young engineers I know go to their day job, code for the product their company has, come back home and play football in the neighbourhood. And trust me no has complained anything about not finding their passion.
In reality, we need to pay bills. And it’s fine. Until and unless you have a job that you hate and bosses that suck, you need to find another. But I think jobs are okayish for the average of us. If we do it right then there are no complaints. And in return, we are getting to pay bills, eat our favorite food, give our parents that TV or car they were willing to buy for a long time and more importantly do that job we love or interests us. And that makes us happy.
Also, many of the folks I know, they come back from their “okayish” job which doesn’t make them sad or stresses them out, and do what they really like, love or are passionate about. And again, that’s fine. Finding your passion and just working on it day and night is all hyped up. Trust me, you’ll end up chasing your own tail in the long run and will never be happy and content.
Enough talk, but how I am happy now and content at the age of 23? Here are few points on what I did/do and how it helps me to stay sane, happy and content:
I have a job which is of my interest: I know that not everyone finds their interest right after college and a job around that aspect too. Early on when I was in college, I just got lucky and found one of my interest i.e. design and worked to build a portfolio ignoring my majors. My portfolio was okay and I got a job, but not the degree. Right now I am working with a cool company called Wingify and I feel happy on the things I work on here. It’s okay if you don’t find a job in-line with your passion. As long as your job doesn’t suck, you’re doing fine in life 🙂
I do things that make me happy after office hours: I cycle to work and back which I totally love. Once back, I play football with kids nearby, read something online, listen to music, watch some interesting videos I bookmarked while at work. All this keeps me away from stress. I watch a movie in theatres every alternate weekend and then eat at a local/popular restaurant.
I have my loved ones around me to keep me away from stress: Whenever I start to panic about my situation or stressing about things, I call my girlfriend (she’s super cute), my mother or my close friends. It always helps to talk to someone and let things out. I believe that if you keep things to yourself which stress you, they’ll eat you from the inside and cause you 10x or more stress in the long run. Sometimes it’s better to just share the burden. It helps me stay sane.
I don’t create unrealistic or materialistic goals: A lot of people I know talk about owning a big car, a big house, amazing bank balance, so on and so forth. In reality, we never ask ourselves that whether owning all that make us happy in the long run? I think everyone knows deep down that the answer is NO. But we still chase them. That’s why I follow and preach minimalism. The less you have, the less stressed you are. Owning less doesn’t mean being poor. It means you’re rich from the inside. It’s the simplest way of being content, otherwise one will always have things to chase, cry and stress about. It’s an endless loop.
Lastly, I accepted that my future will not keep me happy at present: While in college, I learned a lesson that things about future that we bother ourselves with are in the future (it might or might not happen). Planning for the best and hoping for the worst is fine. But somehow I found that it’s ruining my present. I almost stopped doing everything that was making me happy and was working towards my future i.e. designing my portfolio at that time which I needed to launch. I realised that while I am involved in building my future and worrying about it too, I am losing a lot on my present. I am losing time with my loved ones. There’s a lot to lose when you’re just focused on your future. That was my lesson and I accepted and decided that I’ll always work towards a better future but will never let it ruin my present.
To sum this up, I love the idea of having multiple happiness baskets. This concept is about having/doing multiple things in life that make us happy so that if one basket falls, we have several others to rely on.
Most people give their everything to just one thing that makes them happy, and when that falls, it’s chaos for them. It’s simply plain logic to aid yourself with multiple things in life that make you happy so no matter when you fall, you’ll find happiness from the rest, stay happy and ultimately content in life.
[bctt tweet=”Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. ~Mark Twain” username=”sankalpdomore”]
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