Thursday, August 31, 2006

How busy is too busy?

How busy is “Very Busy”?
In our day to day activities we come across many people who say “I’m busy” and because of their Busy-ness, won’t be in a position to attend your request or give you the attention you expect them to. This post is an attempt to analyze this concept of being busy.

Note: This post is gender neutral and all terms he, him, his etc are to be read he/she, his/her etc.

At a high level, people become busy under following conditions:
1. When they have lot of work to do that’ll take more time that scheduled,
2. When they want to avoid someone or something,
3. When their time management practices are too bad to accommodate anything outside their fixed schedule
4. When they’re over burdened with unexpected eventualities that need immediate attention and result in deviation of their attention
5. When they simply want to project themselves as someone who’s very busy.

In most of the case, being busy is a result of how you see the event that is demanding your attention. Consider these:

Situation 1:
You’re in a meeting and your phone vibrates, indicating a call. If it’s from your subordinate you’re likely to reject it and if it’s from your boss, you’re likely to walk out of the meeting room and receive the call. The relative importance of caller decides how you handle it. To your subordinate you can say I was busy, but to your boss you may not dare to.

Situation 2:
A student, if his mother tries to assign some work, may say “I’m busy, I’ve to study” but if his friend comes and invites for a game, chances that he’ll accept that. So here, being busy depends on how interesting the disturbance is.

Situation 3:
To some people like politicians, projecting themselves as busy is a style statement. In their view, punctuality is for those who have no other work. In this case, faking “busy” ness is an attitude problem.

Situation 4:
There’re people who are busy at work or with something else. It happened with all of us. Once in a while a Friday deadline may be missed and we end up working all weekend. This kind of “Busy” should be temporary in nature specific to an event or situation. But if a particular individual is busy at work all the time and every time, either he’s accepting workload beyond his ability or is not capable of finishing the work allotted to him, in time. Either he’s to learn saying NO to additional work, or he’s to enhance his skills/productivity to do more work in less time.

We often get upset when some one says he’s busy and as a result doesn’t give you the attention you’re expecting. We think other person is doing so intentionally and get upset with him. Sometimes the other person may have genuine reason for his being busy, sometime defect is from our side. Just a thought on what we can and we should do when we’re at the receiving end of someone else’s time crisis.

Give the other person a benefit of doubt.
May be he was in meeting, may be he had no access to mails, may be he was sick or out of office, may be he had some urgent work. In these cases, try reaching the individual couple of times, through different means of communication. Ensure that your message has reached the recipient and give him adequate time to respond.

What is your relative importance w.r.t. the other person?
Some people, because of some special attributes like beauty, money, status, designation will have more people trying to get their attention. They won’t be in a position to entertain all and enjoy a greater privilege of deciding whom they talk to and whom they can ignore. So if your worth in their eyes is poor or your proposition is not interesting enough, you’re likely to be sidelined.
Note: Every individual irrespective of his looks, bank balance or social status, has a freedom to choose whom he talks and whom he doesn’t want to talk to. Unless you have a work related or B2B or B2C relations (where work/business communication has to be executed), you can’t force the other individual to respond.

The relevance of your proposition
Are you approaching right person to get your work done? If you shoot a technical issue to HR person, or a salary matter to a system support guy, you should be lucky if they show some courtesy of asking you to contact relevant department. So if you’re expecting some one to spend their time for you, ensure that you’re not wasting their time (and yours) unnecessarily (like say inviting someone to chat while he may have more important work). Be precise on what you expect them to do and give necessary inputs so that they need not come back to you asking something.

Individual preferences
Some people follow a specific pattern or rules in their life, such as
~ One may not receive personal calls in office time and business calls on personal time,
~ One may choose to attend personal mails only once a week, say on weekend,
~ Some people may not prefer to use certain email ID for certain purposes,
~ Some people allot specific time for specific activities
~ Some people may never use certain mode of communication (say email, orkut, some messengers etc), though they once might have said they use it
~ Some people give high importance to punctuality, time sense and commitments. An unjustified deviation from your side in these aspects may upset them.

If you know that the individual is following a specific pattern, try to cope up and co operate. If you force them to deviate from their plan it may irritate them.

Despite taking care of all above aspects, there’re people who never bother to respond. They may not answer to mails for months, never bother to return a call and don’t give a damn that you do exist.

This can be because of following reasons:
He may be trying to avoid you
When some one is not interested in your friendship but do not wish to say “Get Lost” (or if you still insist after saying so), the easiest thing he can do is ignore you fully. When you’re repeatedly ignored (especially if you can verify that it’s being done intentionally) you should get the message that you’re not welcome.

Cost factor
There’re many people who never call you but say “He he… I was about to call you, before that you only called… he he!” every time you call them. Their busy ness is simply because they don’t want to spend money on communication.

Ego factor
Many people have an attitude “I’m a superior human being than him. Why should I call him? Let him call again if he wants to speak” They don’t bother to show the basic communication courtesy because of ego problem.

Memory factor
Some people have very bad memory. They’ll think of responding later and forget totally about it. Sad thing is they do not make use of any technology to assist them in remembering (like reminder settings).

Bad time management
Some people accept too many commitments without analyzing their ability to meet them. They often fail to fulfill a promise or meet a time line

At this point I’m not in a position to suggest solution to these. Partly because its not possible to give general solutions that work, partly because this post is running too long.

I'm not sure if I've reached a logical conclusion to end this post. But anyway ending this post here.

No comments for most of my previous posts. Probably people are busy or may be I didn't write anything worth commenting. No complaints.

Similar posts:
Why we lie (in Kannada)
Handling Rejection

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Soft Drinks vs Natural Drinks

Heard of the recent news on pesticides in Cola and Pepsi right?

This post is about my opinion on these products and the alternative we have.

All my life, I've consumed these products minimum number of times. If I remember correctly, I've consumed both Coca Cola and Pepsi just once or twice, and their other products, fanta, sprite etc few more times. (Have consumed Maaza, Slice, AquaFina and Kinley a number of times). Because I'm not a regular user of these products I may not have enough authority to comment on them, but still, I'm proceeding.

I understand and agree that these soft drinks are sweet, served chilled, hence quench your thirst. Pesticides or not I’m still unable to understand what value addition these drinks have to our health. Technically speaking, these are just water with sweeteners and preservatives. They contain phosphoric acid and other chemicals. In no way these drinks contribute to health factor.

Then why people drink them?

The sole reason they’re popular is because of the marketing strategies of these companies. In villages where water is not available, soft drinks are available. Every cricketer and film star say drinking these aerated beverages gives you lots of benefits. They’re made available in easy to carry containers and bottles and sold with special offers, promos or discounts. As a result, we find everyone buying these drinks at a price more than 10 times their production cost.

Because these cola companies are financially robust, have great marketing strategies and experience, they’ve succeeded in creating a hype and convincing people into drinking their products. As a result, they make profit, a huge share of which is passed out to their home country, USA indirectly affecting Indian economy.

They’re able to suppress any voice raised against them by activists, and get political and legal backing for their activities. Courtesy our corrupt politicians and international agreement we’ve signed, we’ve to watch helpless while they exploit the resources and money from our country.

From any foreign business entity, it would be foolishness to expect that they’re here to take care of our people and environment. They’re here to make money and they’ll be here as long as they can make money.

Any Cure?

India has rich natural resources and has enough materials to produce natural drinks and replace these colas completely. But the biggest problem is that those who sell local drinks are completely unorganized. They operate in small areas individually. Some times they operate under unhygienic conditions which need to be checked. They need to be networked and brought under a common umbrella. We should develop a mechanism to collect process and market these local drinks as effectively as soft drinks. Organizations like AMUL and State level Milk Federations (Like KMF in Karnataka) are selling milk by products as cold drinks but there’re many sections which needs to be attended and supported.

We should change our approach and realize the benefits of these drinks. We silently pay the MRP (plus cold storage charge plus service charge if levied) for the overpriced aerated and sweetened water, but bargain for 50 paisa with the street side coconut water vendor. He can’t print a MRP on the tender coconut or employ Sachin Tendulkar to tell you that his product is superior. Use your senses.

I’m not saying that Cola Majors be thrown out of India. Their sales and distribution network is providing employment to thousands of people. My only request is use your senses and logic before falling pray to their advertising and marketing strategies.

This post salutes Gopichand Pullela, the badminton star who refused to endorse Cola companies.

Let me know what you think on these.

Similar posts:
Do you like Pepsi?
Coco Fresco: Hyderabad has got a new concept for selling coconut water * branding tender coconut * Upadhya's tender coconut opener *

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The power and need for "Sanyas"

Let me tell you the idea behind internet sanyas as promised.

The idea was to eliminate dependency or Single point of failure. We should always have plan B and shouldn’t have full dependency on one individual or technology. When I felt that I’m depending on internet too much, felt that I should stay away from it for some time. I succeeded to a large extent, but had to abandon later. [Reasons deleted by author on June 15 2007]

Situations where it’ll be useful:

Internet Sanyas was not just about not using internet. Sanyas is also about ability to resist the temptation of doing something, it’s a test of your emotional strength and operational strategies.

Consider following situations:

1. You like some one very much but he/she is least interested in you.
The most decent and respectful thing you can do in these situations is to back off and stop bothering him/her. (When love is rejected people go to various extremes-from committing suicide (extreme depression) to killing the other one (extreme revenge): I’ll not discuss that here). What emotional strength you have to stop thinking of him/her for a long term? Can you resist the temptation of wishing him/her on some important occasion? Can you ignore that individual and proceed in life as if nothing has happened? How dependent are you on that one individual?

2. You’re in need of money or some other help and are counting heavily on one friend. If that friend fails to help or refuses to help what are the alternate options do you have? Do you have another friend whom you can approach? Do you any back up resources to dig up?

3. What if the industry goes down and you loose your high paying job tomorrow? Are you emotionally and economically prepared to take a low paying job?

4. You’re extremely good at your job. But do you have basic skills in other fields? Like can you help yourself with first aid kit in case of medical emergency? Do you know elementary mechanical engineering to be able to guess what might be the problem with your vehicle? Do you know the difference between fixed and floating interest rates or are you depending fully on your financial advisor on that? Any idea how much water is to be added for a given quantity of rice while cooking? These may not be your field of expertise but it’s advisable to have some basic knowledge as a contingency plan.

Life is full of uncertainties. We always plan and hope for good things. But often bad things cross us more frequently than good things. Do we keep ourselves ready for such eventualities? While gambling everyone dreams of what he’ll be doing with the money once he wins it. He hardly realizes that there’s more possibility of him loosing his money than winning. While its always good to anticipate better things in life, we should keep ourselves prepared to face difficulties also. A contingency plan or a plan B, if kept ready will ensure that we can absorb the impact comfortably.