Wednesday, 21 April 2010


This post has also appeared as my weekly 'Distinguished Contribution' in on April 6, 2011. Here's the link -

As a published poet, on-a-sabbatical writer and a to-be-published author, I really do understand the importance of maintaining discipline, being focussed, goal oriented & consistent and setting priorities. Giving vent to seed-germination-plant theory, I place enough weightage to the fact that every action was once a noble thought that was nudged out of the crevices of the mind by strong will, determination, perseverance and a muster of all three assisted ably by hard work and creativity. With such straightened out thinking, as clear as water, what becomes my nemesis is the wrong-doing or sloth that comes in my path by way of procrastination and playful, mindless distractions. Such as checking out friends' statuses and pictures on Facebook, keeping abreast with the latest tweets of my tweeple, watching that interesting video on youtube or simply getting down to a nonsensical virtual game that is so utterly unproductive but helps me hide behind the sham that I am occupied, albeit ungainfully.

Though every morning starts with an honourable intention, a sacrosanct to-do list jotted down in the most private place in the house without any worldly interference and a resolve to conquer my Goliath, the moment the morning starts progressing into the day, my will begins to wither, the determination gets embattled by the urge to click elsewhere and the spirit starts slackening. The charms of social networking beckon and ensnare me in its fold relegating what's important to another day and time. And once you are onto this social, virtual juggernaut, it is mighty difficult to wean yourself out as it begins to suck you into the deep recesses of its womb. Sooner than later, you get into this jocular, other wordly mood living a vicarious existence in the lives of your friends, far removed from the real and important goals of YOUR life.

When you are on the net you tend to make that big mistake and be disillusioned with a make-believe situation that you can actually multitask to the extent that you can work and play at the same time. So, you get into this monstrous maze that sets you clicking from one tab to another in the most futile manner and with the result being zilch on the productivity front. Besides, new research is beginning to point out that humans cannot multi-task on more than two things at a time. So, turn a deaf ear to this latest scientific revelation at your own peril.

Finally, know thyself as bible exhorts, know the raison d'ĂȘtre for your life. Listen to that big drummer up there who beats uniquely for you, hear out the silent little beats that make music only for you and follow your impassioned heart and rational mind into getting on the path that only YOU are meant to tread upon.

Go on, beat the brash onslaught of the unimportant or the less important, conquer the bastions and charge ahead on your mission and goals in life.

Here's a fantastic and informative piece by Soren Gordhamer, that's appeared in Mashable - The Social Media Guide, where he enlists FOUR steps for managing social media attention. Read on -

Soren Gordhamer is the organizer of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, which brings together staff from Google, Facebook, and Twitter with others to explore living wisely in our modern age.

There have never been more things that call out for our attention: We have tweets to read, Facebook statuses to check, and now Google Buzz updates — not to mention text messages, e-mails, and cell phone calls. And the amount of data is growing each day. Recent reports estimate that the average American consumes 34 GB worth of content a day, including 100,000 words of information.

While this access to information has numerous benefits, learning to live and work skillfully amidst an active social media lifestyle is an art in itself — one that will be increasingly challenging in the years ahead.

When we do not manage our social media life, our attention (the essential element for any task) gets more and more divided, and we end up constantly busy, but not very effective. We find ourselves at the end of the day overwhelmed and fatigued, wondering, “Just what did I actually accomplish today?”

Below are four lessons in staying sane and focused amidst an active social media lifestyle.

1. Know the External Reflects the Internal

“The biggest (and hardest) lesson I’ve learned in life is that the external world is just a reflection of the world within.” — Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

One of the essential questions for those of us who live active social media lives is, “Where should I put my attention? How much of my attention should I give to Facebook, Twitter (Twitter), Google Buzz, YouTube (YouTube), or another site?”

However, while the amount of our attention that we give to social media is important, so is the quality of that attention. It is hard to give our full attention to anything when internally we are feeling overwhelmed and unfocused. Our internal state gets mirrored in the external world, so even though we may spend a lot of time on social media sites, it may not be spent productively.

Taking time to settle your mind when you notice yourself off balance or overwhelmed — whether it is through a walk, a visit to the gym, or whatever works for you — can shift the state of your internal world such that you have a greater chance of making your time on social media more effective.

Lesson: Balance the internal before taking action in the external.

2. Do One Thing at a Time

“When people try to perform two or more related tasks either at the same time or alternating rapidly between them, errors go way up, and it takes far longer — often double the time or more — to get the jobs done than if they were done sequentially.” — David E. Meyer, director of the Brain, Cognition, and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan

I know this may sound counter-intuitive, but give it a try. Whatever you are doing, put all your attention on that. This means resisting the tendency to multi-task. In fact, a recent study at Stanford found that the more people multi-task, the worse they become at it.

Yes, that’s right — the more you do it, the worse at it you get. The illusion, of course, is that the busier we are, and the more we “do,” the more we accomplish. The research, curiously, paints a different picture.

Instead of checking Twitter or Facebook while also talking on your cell, finish one first, then do the next.

Lesson: Put all your attention on whatever you are doing at any given moment.

3. Invite Instead of Force

“Do or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda

The idea that the harder we try, the more we will get done, and the happier we will be is a myth. Of course, some effort is needed in any endeavor, but the real question is, “what kind of effort are we putting forth?” We have all likely met people who work like mad at their endeavors, including social media, yet consistently get very few results.

Some time ago I interviewed George Mumford, the sports psychologist who helped Chicago Bulls players during the Michael Jordan era get “in the zone” (he later also helped Los Angeles Lakers players). He said that the first thing he often tells players is that “if they try to get in the zone, they can’t.” Instead, it involves an open alert attention, and the same applies to our social media lives.

Trying too hard, whether it is to make a basketball shot, gather more followers on Twitter, or increase sales of a product, creates tension that impedes our work. We cannot force these things, but we can invite them through a balanced, steady effort.

Lesson: Engage with a focused and open attention that invites instead of forces.

4. Know Where Your Attention is Most Needed

“When players practice what is known as mindfulness — paying attention to what’s actually happening — not only do they play better and win more, they also become more attuned to each other.” — Phil Jackson, who has won a record 10 NBA Championships as a coach

How many times have you been talking with someone, and the person’s cell phone rings, and without even knowing who it was or if it was important, the person immediately vacated your conversation to take the call? It was not even a choice. He or she was attentive to you for one second, and then poof! The person was mentally gone the next.

Of course, there are times to take calls and respond via text while with a friend, but if we are not careful in the age of social media, our attention can get bounced around like a ping pong ball, from this call, to that text message, to that tweet, such that by the end of the day we are exhausted. Mindfulness, or attention to the present moment, is lost. We spent our day “chasing,” letting others determine our focus, not choosing for ourselves where to put our attention and attending to the tasks most important to us.

Lesson: Ask yourself where your attention is most needed and direct it there.


In the coming years, the amount of information at our disposal is only likely to increase. When Google recently launched Google Buzz, their team addressed the challenges of this information era, saying, “we want to present some tools and techniques to help you manage your attention better.” While this is partly a technological problem, it is also an internal and life balance problem.

The challenge of our time is to live connected and use all the great social media available to us, while at the same time harness and direct our attention where it is most needed at any given time. After all, where we decide to put our attention is, essentially, how we choose to spend our life.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

5 Ways to Reduce Social Media Distractions and Be More Productive

As writers, there are two things that we come under the influence of - a Writer's Block that really is this big boulder stuck in the head, stopping all outflow of brilliant ideas and outpouring of our creative juices. On the other end of the spectrum is the Writer's Bug - that eggs you on to become more prolific and productive, and ensures that the pen never gets lifted off the page or the fingertips off the keyboard; given your preferential style of writing.

While the Bug is difficult to catch, the Block appears more often than desired, as any writer worth his salt will tell you. What's even more disastrous is that the Block is fed by several extraneous influences, the social media networking being one of the latest and biggest viral feeders of all.

Since I am as badly infected as the next Joe or Jane in line, I would like to share this excellent piece that shares tips for getting the better off this all-pervasive, incessant distraction(s).

Scott Belsky studies exceptionally productive people and teams in the creative world. He is the Founder and CEO of Behance, oversees The 99% think tank, and is the author of Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming The Obstacles Between Vision & Reality (Portfolio, April 2010). Here follows his piece that appeared in Mashable - The Social Media Guide :-

Those of us who are social media-savvy suffer from a burgeoning problem that constantly threatens our ingenuity. If we fail to acknowledge and solve this problem, our brilliant ideas may may never see the light of day.

Every single minute, more “stuff” is being sent your way. E-mails, text messages, voice mails, instant messages, Twitter (Twitter) messages, Facebook (Facebook) posts… and the list goes on. The proliferation of mobile devices only increases the flow.

What do you do with this deluge? You simply try to stay afloat. You peck away at the latest communications at the top of your many inboxes. And since the flow of information never ends, you risk slipping into a life of what I have come to call “reactionary workflow.”

For those of us with great ideas and bold goals for the future, reactionary workflow is a big problem. If we spend all day reacting to the incoming barrage of communication, we will fail to be proactive with our energy. Our long-term aspirations suffer as a result.

For the past five years, I’ve been interviewing super-productive leaders and teams — people at companies like Google (Google), IDEO, and Disney, and individuals like author Chris Anderson and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. I’ve never asked them how they come up with ideas. I’m not interested. My fascination is how they make their ideas happen, time and time again.

Many of the people I met have developed ways to combat reactionary workflow. Here are a few tips on how they do it.

1. Create Windows of Non-Stimulation

Once you open the door to communications overload, you could spend all day reacting to what’s thrown at you. Piers Fawkes, founder and editor of the marketing consultancy PSFK, reserves a good chunk of his morning –- from 7 to 10 a.m. every day -– to do research and digest the day’s trends and news prior to going through his e-mail. Proactively blocking out time for creating and absorbing, rather than just responding, is a key tactic of productive creatives.

2. Keep Two Lists

When it comes to organizing the day’s tasks — and how your energy will be allocated — create two lists: One for urgent items and another for important ones. Long-term goals and priorities deserve a list of their own and should not compete against the urgent items that can easily consume your day. Once you have two lists, you can preserve distinctly different periods of time for focus on each.

3. Schedule Focused Periods of Processing Every Day

During the research for my book, I met a number of people who swear by “power hours.” These individuals would try to compress all response-related work into pre-determined short periods of time every day, usually one to two hours of uninterrupted inbox clearing. The notion of compartmentalizing reactionary workflow was a theme across the most productive leaders I met.

4. Don’t Hoard Urgent Items

Even when you delegate operational responsibilities to someone else, you may still find you are hoarding urgent items as they arise. When you care so deeply about a project, you likely prefer to resolve things yourself.

Say an e-mail arrives from a client with a routine problem. Even though the responsibility may lie with someone else on your team, you might think, “Oh, this is a really quick fix, I’ll just take care of it.” And gradually your energy will start to shift away from long-term pursuits. Hoarding urgent items is one of the most damaging tendencies I’ve noticed in creative professionals that have experienced early success. When you are in the position to do so, challenge yourself to delegate urgent items to others.

5. Reduce Your Level of “Insecurity Work”

In the era of Google Analytics (Google Analytics) and Twitter, we spend too much time obsessing over real-time data, just because it’s at our fingertips. Whether it is checking your site’s traffic or your bank account, these small repetitive actions don’t help you make ideas happen. They just help us feel safe.

“Insecurity work” is the stuff we do that has no intended outcome, does not move the ball forward in any way, and is quick enough that you can do it multiple times a day without realizing. But nonetheless, it puts us at ease.

The first step in reducing insecurity work is becoming self-aware. Recognize what you do in your everyday life that is, in fact, insecurity work. The second step is to establish some guidelines and rituals for yourself that provide more discipline, such as restricting all insecurity work to a specified 30 minute block every day. The third step, if applicable to you, is to delegate the task of checking on this data to a less insecure colleague who can review it periodically and report any concerns.


How do you avoid a life of reactionary workflow? You need discipline and a dose of confidence. Recognize your tendency to surf the stream of incoming data, and gain confidence in the potential for being proactive.

It’s easy to sit there and react all day. You’ll never run out of work to do. But your bold ideas will suffer unless you take your energy by the reigns.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Quick Social Media Tips For Hotels

Here is the piece by Adam Kirby on Social Media tips for Hotels, followed by my FIVE POINTS -

Adam Kirby
Quick Social Media Tips For Hotels
April 1, 2010

In this month’s issue of HOTELS, I take a look at how a few hotels are doing social media marketing well despite relatively small budgets and staffs. Here are a few easy things hotels can do to keep a responsible social media presence, even without a large commitment of time or money.

* Register your username on every site. Even if you do not plan on engaging on each site right away, controlling your name is simply good business. Any given site may soar or fizzle, but it is crucial to own your brand identity, just in case.

* Empower your employees and get out of their way. Passionate line staff can sell the hotel as convincingly as any marketing professional, and if they are allowed to be themselves, that authenticity will shine through.

* Focus more on quality of followers than quantity. A dozen influential fans who become brand advocates can be more valuable than a thousand passive followers. Cultivate relationships and they will pay off down the road.

* Develop a story about your hotel. Give followers a theme to latch onto that sets your property apart from the competition, then incorporate it into your social media interactions. Be memorable.

* Collect content from colleagues. Regardless of who is actually in charge of the social media effort, they should involve their coworkers by gathering useful information to tweet or post. “These types of outlets need to be constantly fed with information, and it’s not always packages and offers,” says Suzanne Wenz, who oversees social media for The Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston. “Sometimes it’s just stuff like, ‘What’s the bartender mixing up in the bar.’ Sometimes I’ll touch base with the concierges and find out what’s going on in town.”

* Make it fun. Social media is a seriously important part of today’s marketing landscape, but that does not mean it should be serious. Be light-even a little edgy, if it suits your brand-and your fans will actually look forward to your postings, rather than merely skimming over them.

Do you have some more quick tips to share?

L Aruna Dhir commented:

Dear Adam,
My two cents -

1. Use all kinds of social media, exhaustively but judiciously dove-tailing it back to your brand image and philosophy. That is to say, go hammer and tongs on all that is available - LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Youtube......

2. Use photos and videos well - the old dictum of a picture being worth thousand words still stands. Plus it helps profile your brand.

3. Invite group membership, fan bases, user participation with contests, comments, award-winning entries etc. etc.

4. Have internal contests as part of your employee communication strategy and get the little known brand ambassadors to participate on the blog, Group page etc. Highly morale boosting.

5. Study the competition(s), benchmark and innovate your own set of social media marketing strategies.