December 31, 2012

How to leave office by 5 PM?

Every morning you set a goal to leave the office in time to spend the evening hanging out with your loved ones. And every evening around 5 or 6PM, you look at the mound of not-done work and realize it's not happening. 

But before you settle for another late night of Chinese food and furious family members, think about this: some people manage to have both fulfilling careers and fulfilling home lives. What do they know? After studying hundreds of time logs, I've realized that these successful people adopt a few key tactics for shutting down and shipping out:

1. Realize you can leave before everything's done. 

In our rapid-fire age, email, requests for assistance, calls and meetings can fill all available space. If you aim to go home with inbox zero, you may never go home. Work will always be there and will take whatever time you give it. So give it less time. We all have a point of diminishing returns.

2. Split your shifts. 

Leaving the office at 5PM doesn't mean you need to be done for the night. Try going home, spending time with your family or pursuing other personal projects, and then fire your laptop back up around 8:30PM for another hour or two. You'll probably be refreshed enough to solve problems that would have taken you until 8:30 if you'd stayed put. 

3. Do a 4PM triage. 

If your to-do list for the day has been too ambitious, you'll probably realize, by mid-afternoon, that it can't all happen by 5PM. So at 4PM, go through and rank the most important tasks. If you knew that the electricity was going to go off in your office at 5PM, rendering more work impossible, what would you do before then? Do those things. Then stop. Pick up the to-do list again at 8:30PM, or the next morning. Who knows, maybe some of the problems will have solved themselves in the night! 

What time do you leave work in the evening -- and what time would you like to leave?

December 28, 2012

New Birthday of Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata was born into an old Parsi family of Bombay (present-day Mumbai), the first child of Soonoo & Naval Hormusji Tata. Ratan's childhood was troubled, his parents separating in the mid-1940s, when he was about seven and his younger brother Jimmy was five. His mother moved out and both Ratan and his brother were raised by their grandmother Lady Navajbai. He was schooled at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai.
In 1962, after graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Architecture and Structural Engineering, Ratan joined the family business. Ratan turned down a job offer from IBM, following the advice of J.R.D. Tata, and entered the family business. Ratan joined the Tata Group in December 1962, when he was sent to Jamshedpur to work at Tata Steel. He worked on the floor along with other blue-collar employees, shoveling limestone and handling the blast furnaces. In 1971, Ratan was appointed the Director-in- Charge of the National Radio & Electronics Company Limited (Nalco), a company that was in dire financial difficulty.
Ratan suggested that the company invest in developing high-technology products, rather than in consumer electronics. J. R. D. followed Ratan's suggestions. From 1972 to 1975; Nalco eventually grew and recovered its losses. In 1977, Ratan was entrusted with Empress Mills, a textile mill controlled by the Tatas. When he took charge of the company, it was one of the few sick units in the Tata group. Ratan managed to turn it around and even declared a dividend. In 1998, Tata Motors introduced his brainchild, the Tata Indica.
On January 31st, 2007, under Ratan Tata's chairmanship, Tata Sons successfully acquired Corus Group, an Anglo-Dutch steel and aluminum producer. With the acquisition, Ratan Tata became a celebrated personality in Indian corporate business culture. The merger created the fifth largest steel producing entity in the world. Ratan Tata was honored by the Government of India with the Padma Bhushan on 26th January 2000, on the occasion of the 50th Republic Day of India.
He serves in senior capacities in various organizations in India and he is a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry. In March 2006 Tata was honored by Cornell University as the 26th Robert S. Hatfield Fellow in Economic Education, considered the highest honor the university awards to distinguished individuals from the corporate sector. He recently received an honorary doctorate from the London School of Economics and listed among the 25 most powerful people in business named by Fortune magazine in November 2007.
Ratan Tata is indeed a visionary and has made India proud. With novel ideas like the Tata Nano Priced at a lakh only, more people can afford to buy a car. He has played a very important role in helping increase the standard of living of the common man. The future of India is bright with leaders like Ratan Tata showing the way to success.

The company headed by Tata has almost single-handedly built Indian industry. Initially mill owners, the group now includes India's largest software house and one of its most prestigious hotel chains (the Taj), as well as steel and car production. The success of the Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate, is largely down to Tata's courageous and principled management strategies, and yet Ratan himself does not appear on any rich list; the Tata family owns just one per cent of the holding company.


Early business failures in the Tata Group's  electronics and mill interests did not mark Ratan out for a starring role. Indeed, when he succeeded his uncle, J.R.D. Tata, as chairman in 1991, few expected the group to survive the challenges of liberalization. By trimming the group's 300 "fiefdoms" and removing managers who didn't share his "global not local" vision, Tata reinvented the company.


Today, the Tata Group has the largest market capitalization of any business house of the Indian Stock Market. His ambitious global acquisition spree began in 2000 with the takeover of Tatley Tea. The 2007 purchase of Anglo-Dutch steel gaint Corus for $13 billion was the biggest takeover of a foreign company by an Indian corporate, marking his arrival as a truly global player.

"Mr Tata encourages us to take big, calculated risk" 
- Ravi Kant, managing director, Tata motors

It is often said that Tata's heart is in the motor industry. Famously media shy, Tata was propelled into the spotlight in 2008 with his bold takeover of prestige British brands Jaguar and Rover, a move that was branded as "reverse colonialism". In 1998 he launched the Indica, the first totally Indian car. With typically unwavering belief in his project to create a people's car, Tata proved skeptic wrong in 2008 with the launch of the "one lakh" ($2,150) car, the Tata Nano.

Under Tata's leadership, the group has set a standard for corporate responsibility. As well as providing housing, education and medical care to employees, the company ploughs over two thirds of profits into trusts that finance good causes. Unusually in India, the company is known to be incorruptible.


Audacious, degnified and philanthropic. One of Tata's first principles in business is to be bold but to "do no harm".


Tata believes passionately in using his company's growth for the betterment of his employee's lives and the community at large. He believes the company's long-term position and influence depend on this approach, and that shareholders will prosper in such a regime.
  • Avoid all corrupt activities even when times are difficult and temptation is high.
  • Obey your instincts when they tell you that what you are being offered is too good to be true.
  • Make sure your company listens to the community around it and contributes to its well-being.

The ability to think globally. Tata has transformed a lumbering, bureaucratic, Empire-rea conglomerate into a dynamic world player.

Deciding that Tata Group should make its own cars. Critics said it was vanity project, but Tata Motors is now India's second biggest car maker. 

December 26, 2012


During four years as a Management Consultant, I have learned and shared a lot of simple practices that help my audiences to increase their daily results. 

A lot of time is wasted because we don’t have a system in place for many of the repetitive tasks we do so that we have to pay over and over again, with our time, for the same results.

So here’s one neat tip: systematize. (I don’t think this is really a word, but hey, if no one invents new words, how will our language grow?) Systematize is the simple procedure of creating a routine way of responding to a myriad of tasks that will free our time for more important things. We can systematize in all areas of our life. Here are a few places you may wish to begin.

1. Standard Text Documents. I have dozens of documents in “My Documents” section of my computer. These include a lot of the articles that people request through our website and standard letters I send out for business and personal contacts, standard information documents (like directions to our office). Most of the information I need to send to respond to my emails is there or easily modified and tailored so that I don’t have to type out a lot of repetitive information.

2. A Single Calendaring System. Some people use as many as a dozen ways of tracking their appointments and scheduled events and their “To Do” list items. There’s a calendar for work and one for personal things. There’s stuff lying out on the desk reminding us what needs to be done. The dentist appointment card is on the bathroom mirror and the dry cleaner claim slip is hanging from the visor in the car. The softball schedule is on the refrigerator and we have several other commitments in our heads. Boil this all down to a single system. I use Daytimer products, but whatever product you feel comfortable with is fine. Just make it a simple, singular, master system from which you take control of appointments and scheduled events and your “To Do” list items.

3. Clean Up The Messy Desk Or Work Area. Studies have shown that the person who works with a messy desk spends, on average, one and a half hours per day looking for things or being distracted by things. That’s seven and a half hours per week! (“Out of sight, out of mind.” And the reverse of that is true too, “In sight, in mind.”) And, it’s not a solid block of an hour and a half, but a minute here and a minute there, and like a leaky hot water faucet, drip, drip, drip, it doesn’t seem like a major loss, but at the end the day, we’re dumping gallons of hot water down the drain that we are paying to heat. If you have ever visited the office of a top manager, typically, that person is working with a clean desk environment. Many would attribute this result to that person’s access to other staff members. While there may be some truth in that conclusion, in most cases, if we went back some years in that person’s career, they probably were working with a clean desk back then which gave them the focus they needed to become promoted to where they are today.

4. Have Adequate Supplies. Some people spend a lot of their productive time looking for a pen or a pad of paper or staples for their stapler. Have enough pens, pencils, yellow markers, “sticky notes,” writing pads, fax paper, printer cartridges, updated telephone directories, staples, “White Out,” report forms, index cards, paper clips, rolls of adding machine tapes, etc., etc.

5. Make Your Physical Surroundings Workable. Move the fax machine closer (or further away!) from your desk. Have the most frequently used and needed files within arm’s reach and the less frequently required items further out. Have adequate space at your desk to do what you need to do. Remove some unnecessary items, if necessary, to make room.

6. Set Up A Functional Briefcase. I travel a lot and am out of my office at seminars or meetings with clients requiring that I tote along a briefcase. In addition to the stuff I need for where I am going, I have my briefcase stocked with a lot of neat things like a calculator, a pocket map of the United States, basic office supplies (writing pads, pens, yellow markers, small stapler, paper clips, stamps and a few envelopes), blank checks, a few deposit slips, a paperback book I have been intending to read, and at least one project I can work on if I get stuck in traffic or am waiting for the meeting to begin. It gives me more choices.

7. Schedule Maintenance. The equipment you use, your car, stuff around the house, and oh yeah, you. You know your car needs to be serviced. Why wait for a breakdown to get it done and spend more time on what could have been accomplished in less time. (You still need a tune-up, but now you have to wait for the tow truck to arrive.) Regular medical and dental checkups save huge amounts of time in our future by fixing small conditions before they become major costly issues.

8. Catalog Contacts. Develop and maintain your contacts list so that networking can enhance your future with the contacts you make. A computer-based program such as ACT is excellent, but even a simple 3x5 card system will work. Keep track of a growing list of contacts, help them at every turn and they will be there to help you.

December 21, 2012


We all encounter delays that keep us from doing what we planned to do. Life is often what happens to you along the way when you are planning otherwise.

We can be delayed in traffic, waiting for the dentist, in an airport, or in a line at the bank or elsewhere. You cannot always control what happens to you out there, but you can exercise control over how it will impact you. You do not have to let delays defeat you.

I offer you six tips to defeat those delays.

1. Don’t Get Frazzled. A lot of people use their delay time for being crazy. Look around when you are delayed and see how others are reacting. They may be screaming, hitting the steering wheel, and flailing about. They are fulfilling their crazy time. When your flight is delayed or you are stuck in traffic, the delay is upon you and there is little you can do about. There is much you can do to avoid being caught up in a similar delay in the future, but for now, when you are delayed, you are delayed. Your being upset about it, telling yourself that this should not be happening, only makes a bad situation worse. You are not only delayed but are unhappy too. Your unhappiness will not make the delay shorter.

2. Bring Important Projects With You. Always have stuff with you that you can work on if you experience an unexpected delay. Perhaps a work project or two, some business reading, your laptop, or the envelopes for your Christmas card list. If you get delayed, it gives you the option of making what could be wasted time, productive time.

3. Bring An Unread Book Or Two. 95% of the books people purchase are never completed. Why? Because we don’t have the time to read. If your flight is delayed for three hours, you can read a lot of pages in that book you purchased but never seemed to have the time to read.

4. Bring Your Telephone Contact List. Think ahead of where you are going and ask yourself what telephone numbers would be useful if you were delayed. Friends? Family? Business associates? Your travel agent? Make sure you have these telephone numbers with you so when you get delayed, if you can access a telephone, you give yourself more choices to be productive.

5. Bring Some Entertainment. What do you like? Are you into crossword puzzles? Crafts? Game Boy video games. If you are prepared for it, delay time can be playtime.

Sit and think. In our hurry-up-world we have little time just to think about our lives, where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. 

Use delay time to reflect upon your life and celebrate the good things that are happening and commit to changing what needs to be improved.

December 17, 2012

How to Manage Multiple Priorities?

We all have “too much to do.” As a professional management consultant, I hear that all the time from my clients. And that says a lot of good things about you, if you have “too much to do” because, obviously, a lot of people have entrusted many things to your care and have confidence in you.

Every priority claims itself as the most urgent and crucial thing in the world screaming for your immediate attention. The problem is, we can only do one thing at a time. So, here are four nifty ideas to help you to Manage Multiple Priorities.

Keep the focus on personal balance first. Our lives are made up of Seven Vital Areas: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional, and Spiritual. We will not necessarily spend time every day in each area or equal amounts of time in each area. But, if, in the long run, we spend a sufficient quantity and quality of time in each area, our lives will be in balance. But if we neglect any one area, never mind two or three, we will eventually sabotage our success. Much like a table, if one leg is longer than the rest, it will make the entire table wobbly. If we don’t take time for health, our family life and social life are hurt. If our financial area is out of balance, we will not be able to focus adequately on our professional goals, etc. As in the medical profession, it is said that you cannot be sick and make other people well. In Time Management, then, we have to keep ourselves healthy first, in balance first, or it won’t matter how many or how important our priorities are, we will not be able to properly handle them.

Schedule Daily Planning. I set aside at least 30 minutes each night for Daily Planning, a time to have a Board of Directors meeting in the most important corporation in the world, Me, Inc. I make up a list of things for the next day that includes not only all the items I “have to” do, but, more importantly, the items I “want to” do. Putting it all down in writing is vital because if you want to manage it, you have to measure it. This will tend to overload your next day, which is useful because it permits us to take advantage of Parkinson’s Law, which says, in part, that a project tends to take as long as the time allocated for it. If you give yourself one thing to do, it will take all day to do it. If you give yourself three things to do, you get them all done. If you give yourself twelve things to do, you may not get all twelve done, but may well accomplish nine. Having a lot to do, being a bit overloaded, creates a healthy sense of pressure on us to get through our list.

Review each item and ask, “Is this the best use of my time?”  There is a lot of difference between “I do it” and  “It gets done.” Which is more important? “It gets done.” Sure, it’s great to accomplish things ourselves but we only have 168 hours per week to accomplish results. (And if we take away 56 hours per week for sleep, that only leaves 112 hours!) So, each night during Daily Planning, I review each item on my list and ask, “Is this the best use of my time?” If it is, I will plan to work on it and if it is not, I will try to find a way to delegate it to someone so that it gets done.

Prioritize the list. Typically, our “To Do” lists will contain “crucial” and “not crucial” items. Some items will be more important, some not so important. Typically, the “not crucial” items are quicker and often more fun than the “crucial” items, which tend to take longer and are generally less fun. So what happens for many is that without prioritizing our list, we have a tendency to do the “not crucial” items first, substituting the quantity for the quality. Identify the most important “crucial” item on your list, the one you would want to tackle if you could only work on one item tomorrow and then label that as “#1.” Next, identify the second item you would work on, if time permits, and label that as “#2.” Continue prioritizing the entire list in that fashion and tomorrow start with #1.

These four steps will help you to more effectively Manage Multiple Priorities and increase your daily results and that is a good thing.

December 15, 2012


We all run into people from time to time who work with a messy desk and messy work environment. They have stuff piled up here and there, on the floor, on the shelves, and even on a table behind their desk. (They have to buy furniture to put this stuff on!)

And whenever you try to encourage that person to clean up their messy work area, do they get defensive! They have snappy retorts like, “A messy desk is the sign of an organized mind.” Or, “This is my external filing system.” And if you really push them they will almost always tell you, “But I know where everything is!”

“Out of sight; out of mind,” the old saying goes and the reverse of that is just as powerful. When it’s in sight; it’s in mind and most cannot help but be distracted by what is before them. “I know I should be working on this report, but let me just go through this junk mail real quick.” A messy desk can easily lead to lost items and missed deadlines. It is time consuming too, going through the same pile of stuff day after day.

Some studies suggest that as much as 15% of your workweek can be consumed with a messy desk either by being distracted by things that are in sight or by having to look for things.

I recommend you work with a clean desk, a clean work environment. You don’t have to take me literally on this. I typically work with two or three files before me, but as best as I can, I keep the number of items before me to a minimum to keep my focus sharply on what truly needs to be done.

If you have a bunch of stuff on your desk it will be easy, just time consuming, to get your desk cleaned up.

Take each item, one at a time, decide when you will likely get to it, put it on your to do list for that day and then put that item away. For example, the first item on my desk is a research project. I will be able to get to that next Tuesday. I will open up my Day-Timer to next Tuesday and on Tuesday’s to do list I will add, “Do research project.” I then file that item in a file for retrieval next Tuesday.

The next item in my pile is the budget for the next quarter. I will get to work on that next Wednesday. I open my Day-Timer to next Wednesday and on Wednesday’s to do list I add, “Work on budget,” and then I file that item away for retrieval next Wednesday. I continue this procedure until all the items have been scheduled on my to do lists for the day I will tackle them and my desk is clean.

If you have a lot of items, it may take you all day to clean up your messy desk but your investment will provide you a clean desk that will permit you to have a better focus on what you need to do.

December 12, 2012

How to Easing E-Mail ?

It’s interesting. Technology is often heralded as a servant for us yet frequently we become a servant to it. E-mail was trumpeted as the new communications tool that would surely put first class “snail mail” out of business. Last year, the Indian Post Office delivered more pieces of first class mail than ever and e-mails exceeded the volume of first class mailings. We have created another layer of communicating with one another and an additional responsibility to monitor and manage.

E-mail is a useful tool but many feel controlled by this new vehicle. The average businessperson is getting around 80 e-mails per day and many feel that about 80% of the messages in their “In Box” are of little or no value.

So, as always, rising to the occasion, I have four suggestions to help you to become better at “Easing E-mail.”

1. Get Off The Lists. The best way to deal with a problem is to never have it. If you are receiving a lot of unwanted e-mails, ask to be removed from the various lists. This would include your inclusion in unwanted “cc” lists or unappreciated solicitations from those promising “unlimited wealth without risk or effort.”

2“Unlisted Address.” Just like getting an “unlisted” telephone number that you share only with those whom you want to give direct access, you might want to get a separate e-mail address that you use only for the important communications you wish to receive.

3. Check It Once Or Twice Per Day. Many I speak with are become chained to their email server, monitoring incoming email on a continuous basis. Maybe this is because e-mail creates its own sense of urgency, but most of the communications are not all that urgent. I let my “incoming” batch up and I respond to them a couple of times per day.

4. Deal With It. Like handling paper, you don’t want to get into the “shuffling blues” where you read e-mail, postpone action, save it, re-read it later, and allow things to slip through the cracks. As you open each e-mail do one of the following:

a.      If it requires a quick response, (it will only take a minute or two), respond to it and delete it.
b.      If it requires a response but is not the best use of your time, try to think of a way of delegating it. There’s a lot of difference between “I do it” and “It gets done.”
c.       If it is going to take any serious amount of time to respond (beyond a minute or two), schedule it for action in your Day Planner and then download the message, save it, or print it out for future action.

I personally receive approximately 250 e-mails per day and by practicing the suggestions above, I can handle that volume in about an hour, taking advantage of this fantastic tool but not being controlled by it to the distraction of more important tasks in my day.

* Based on Personal Experience

December 7, 2012

How to Choose the Best Way to Communicate with Clients

As I dealing with few clients, I learnt some of the best techniques of Communication which I would like to share it with you. Please know that it’s important to take notes about your clients so you can access their likes, dislikes, how they like to correspond, and much more.

You’re in the middle of emailing a big client when he calls you and talks your ear off for an hour. You’re irritated, because he’s wasting your time with something that could have been handled via email. But are you justified in feeling this way?

When communicating with clients, it’s important to use the method they prefer, even if it’s not your favorite. Make sure, that interaction could have been handled via email. But maybe your client just likes hearing your voice, to give him confidence that you’re still working hard for him. Maybe he’s lonely and just likes to talk. Whatever the reason, it’s your job to keep your clients happy. Sometimes that takes a little sleuthing to determine the communication style your client prefers.
It’s always a good idea to start with the most formal type of communication: phone conversations. From there, you can gauge whether every interaction needs to be via phone, or if you can move to email.
Your business card should, of course, have multiple methods of getting in touch with you, including:
-  Phone
-  Email
-  Social media profiles

Let’s say you leave a voicemail for a client. Leave your phone number so he can call you if he wants to, but also let him know you’ll follow up via email as well. That gives him the option of responding through the channel he prefers. Depending on your relationship, as well as both your and your client’s comfort with social media, you may even take to interacting on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Instant messaging is another casual means of connecting. These are especially common in the tech and marketing sectors.

The rule of thumb is: keep it professional. If you use your social media channel for personal use only, it’s probably not a good way to interact with a client. But if you manage social media for your company, and if your client does the same, it might be an easy way to ping him if you have a quick question.
Sometimes you need to use one communication channel for a particular kind of interaction. Here’s a guide to help:
-  In-depth conversation about account, changes, proposal: in-person or phone
-  Summary of conversation or update of project: email
 Quick question: instant message or social media
-  Thank you or holiday wishes: snail mail

* Based on Professional Experience

December 3, 2012


If you were the vice-president of marketing for a bank, (or any organization for that matter), you would probably want to poll your customers from time to time to determine why they chose to do business with your bank.

We can always assume why our customers do business with us but this can be risky because we may be wrong. What we think we are providing may be opposite to what customers perceive they are receiving. A good question then to ask our customers would be, “How do you know when we are doing a good job for you?”

The answers we receive will probably be all over the lot. Maybe customers think we are doing a good job for them when we provide products and services at the lowest price, or that we are conveniently located, or that we have a friendly staff, or combinations of these and lots of other reasons.

Some years ago, a consulting firm conducted some of this research in the legal field. They questioned attorneys about why clients came to them. At the top of the list, in the attorneys' views, were issues of competence and skill. “Clients seek me out because I am good at what I do.” At the bottom of the list were soft skills, people skills, and bedside manner issues.

When the consultants polled the attorneys’ clients, they were surprised to discover that clients chose to go to their attorneys for the opposite reasons. Good bedside manners, people skills, communication skills, compassion and concern were among the top reasons why clients selected their attorneys and issues dealing with the attorney’s competence and skill were at the bottom of the list.

If you know why your customers and clients are seeking you out, you can emphasize more of those reasons in your marketing efforts to attract more clients. “Give ‘em what they want, not what you think they need!”

Each of us is the president and sole stockholder of a major corporation, “Me, Inc..” And, in the context of this discussion, your major customer is your boss. Your boss has a lot of control over your future raises and promotions. Why not ask the “Boss Question,” similar to what we would ask our customers and clients, “Boss, how do you know when I am doing a good job for you?”

It is easy and risky for us to assume what the answers might be. For example, you may assume your boss thinks you are doing a good job when you are innovative and creative, coming up with new ideas. The boss, however, may be threatened by all that and feel more comfortable when you do not rock the boat. You may assume that the boss is comfortable with your performance when there are no complaints (no news is good news). But the boss may measure your performance on the number of unsolicited compliments he receives from others about how well you are doing your job.

Some feel uncomfortable raising the “Boss Question.” The problem is, it is a question that will have to be addressed sooner or later. For many, it is addressed “later,” at an annual review when you discover that you did not get the raise or advancement you thought you were entitled to because for the last year you had been going down a path opposite to the boss’ desires. Productivity and success are stolen again from you, not because you were not working hard enough but because of a miscommunication that kept you from delivering what your customer really wanted.

I think it’s a good idea to ask the “Boss Question” several times throughout the year as the boss’ expectations can change and we need to always be moving forward together on the same wavelength.