Category Archives: Lifestyle

Which is better: Watching the News or Reading about it?

Recently I made a few changes to my lifestyle to increase my productivity and to decrease my stress levels. The approach I’ve started following is not radical in any sense but I would like to share it with the world as I feel that there is too much noise nowadays on issues that lack substance. Here is my simple advice to people who want to increase their productivity and cut down their stress levels :

Stop Watching the News!!

Nowadays most news channels have debates where participants are involved in a shouting match to get themselves heard. The viewers who watch these debate shows inadvertently experience a spike in their blood pressure (Google “Arnab Goswami + blood pressure”) as they get more “involved”. Consider this : When you SEE THE NEWS, you assimilate the news content mixed with the emotions of the news presenter and his biases. Most TV News debates begin with an agenda and their content takes awhile to be digested (if you are not distracted by the millions of ads that popup in between).

A simple but effective alternative would be to READ THE NEWS from newspapers and magazines. Most of the times, the ” Breaking News” that you see on screen changes direction every hour and sometimes, the entire context is changed at the end of the day. If you closely examine the content of the news section that you “watched” you will be surprised to note that the 2- hour news section could be easily summarised in 10-15 min. To avoid a scenario where you mull over how you could have used your time more productively, always READ THE NEWS as most people read faster as textual content does unfold gradually as in the case of a video; you can read anywhere and wherever you want in a newspaper. Also, you can form your own opinion about the truth behind the news article and lessen the chance of acquiring a clouded perspective. I do watch news debates, once in a while but reading news has become the norm and it has helped me manage my time immensely.

So,READ the news and save time. If something really demands your attention, someone close to you will surely inform you ( assuming you have people who care about you and talk to you :-)).



What you see is what you don’t get..

Very often we see news on the TV and Internet that incites passions and polarises views.One can never be sure of the real reason the media is propagating this news.

Is it to ensure that justice is meted out correctly or is it just a cheap stunt to spike TRP ratings?

Is it,then, worthwhile to engage in speculations when we can never be sure that someone may be orchestrating a revolution with intentions that are not in alignment with our values?

I have developed a simple checklist  to help navigate through general chatter or gossip.Here it is :–

  1. Can this piece of information be used a tidbit in a future conversation ? (“No man is an island” and sometimes you need to break the ice).
  2. Does this piece of information contribute to my personal growth? (Growth = Better financial position,improvement of job skills or general physical well-being)
  3. Is this information useful for others?
  4. Does it affect me financially?
  5. Does it affect my family?

If the answer is a resounding “NO” to any one of the above questions, I don’t bother paying attention and move forward.A lot of people get too concerned about global events and pay no attention to events that happen in their immediate vicinity.There is no point in getting worked up about something if you are not going to be affected in anyway (especially when you don’t have the power to change anything). You can save yourself from a lot of stress and wasted time by just looking for relevancy…Productivity and Good Health will follow.


Beware of your Bank!!

The word bank conveys a feeling of  safety and stability. Most people generally trust their bank more when compared to other institutions.Lately,banks in India (where I live) seem to have gone overboard in their quest to increase profitability. The calls from banks are generally about any one of these : Home loans,car loans,credit card loans,EMI offers and Close ended insurance schemes.

If you take a closer look at most of the schemes,you will notice that almost all the so-called offers are designed to keep you in a state of debt.Some offers are positioned in such a way that people with limited financial knowledge become easy prey. Consider this : when you apply for a personal loan,the procedure can be a hassle depending on whether you’ve applied at a private or a national bank. However, national banks offer a marginally lower rate of interest and fixed rate of interest but agent from private banks encourage customers to go for personal loans at “reducing rate of interest“. The word “reducing” creates a kind of psychological connection in the customer as it implies that he is paying less when in reality,the major chunk of the interest in paid upfront.The bank has no moral obligation to explain the difference.

So,the next time you get some offer from your bank, don’t jump at it. Most offers occur in cycles and it will you serve you in the long run to stop and research the pros and cons before you make a decision.When you have the temptation to make a purchase and split the cost;remember that you are paying more.

Procrastination is the best policy when arriving at a final decision about bank offers

It also helps to have a caller identification app like Truecaller,if you have problems saying no;you can block the solicitation calls or simply screen and avoid the ones that are beyond persuasive.At the end of the day,you need to be the master of your money and hence need to make the extra effort to be well-informed to avoid getting raw deals.


More often than not when you are caught in the whirl of your professional life and find it tough to keep up with the pace of your personal life,you need to take a step back. Yes,that’s the simple solution.

Take. A. Step. Back.

Sometimes plans go awry and bad habits creep in and taking a break to tinker your life back into shape is a beneficial move.

Intermittent evaluation of goals to track progress is essential to determine the relevance of your goals.Sometimes you may have started something that may have lost relevance due to the changing times. Introspection would help you pinpoint the necessity of continuing/ discontinuing activities not aligned to your goals.

For example,recently I got involved in a lot of different activities which seemingly drained my energy and motivation to execute my most important goals. I decided to use the Urgency-Important Matrix to help me organize myself better. I realized that I was spending a lot of time on reading too many books. I have decided to divide time between reading the different books and to not exceed the stipulated times/limit.

Example :not reading more than 20 pages per day per book would not reduce the time I need to spend on critical activities.

Remember this: Introspection sometimes requires a sane outside voice you can trust. One should never hesitate to reach out to the expert to get an additional point of view that can add a new angle to your outlook.

If things go out of control,you’ve just got to follow the advice you might have learnt in school to put out fire (if your body is aflame):


The clarity and calmness you get will help you declutter.

3D Printed Meat: Is it good as it sounds?

Recently I was forwarded an article by my boss at work and came across someone who was exhorting the benefits of 3D Printed meat;specifically  in relation to prevention of animal slaughter by manufacturing artificial meat.

I was mildly amused and reached out to the person (Vivek Wadhwa) who had posted the article,on Twitter . The person immediately pointed me towards the reference link (which does not look like a definitive or reliable study because it points out that 88% of people prefer grain fed meat when in real life,most people are clueless or don’t give a damn about what their “meat ate”) that discusses the future of 3D printed meat.

First of all, just because something is possible does not necessarily make it suitable for public consumption. I respect vegetarianism as a personal choice but eating 3 D printed of meat does not help achieve a middle ground. How would you describe yourself if you were only eating 3D Printed meat apart from being a vegetarian? Would you say ” I am not strictly a meat eater, I just eat 3D printed meat”? Ok,Maybe a new definition will have to be coined somewhere down the line if 3D printed meat consumption takes off big time.

Also,when more and more people are increasingly drawn towards organic food to avoid the harmful effects of processed food; it seems highly unlikely that there will be a formidable number of 3D printed meat eaters. Artificial meat will never stop animal slaughter;in fact  theoretically stoppage of animal slaughter will cause a huge imbalances in world animal populations and food chain..the ingredients of 3D meat have to come from somewhere,right?

Conclusion : I don’t know if I would ever eat 3D printed.Maybe,just to boast to my friends I would take a nibble but I can never envision it becoming a regular part of my diet simply because there would not be any personal connection or identification with what I am about to eat(No, I don’t kill my own meat like Mark Zuckerberg). I am not sure about 3D printing of vegetables though..well,that’s another topic and I really don’t care about the feeling of vegetables 🙂

Are your Investments in alignment with your values?

If you are one of those people who don’t like to invest directly in shares and gravitated towards mutual funds (as it does not include the hassle of monitoring your investment frequently),you need to re-evaluate your priorities immediately.

Sometime ago, I started investing in mutual funds as part of my evolving relationship with my money. Every year I decide to learn and implement something that puts me in a better place financially. I’ve always believed in the ” Never put all your eggs in one basket” concept and actively seek out ways to find additional (and most importantly ,legal) ways of earning more money– as a result, I taught myself about investing in mutual funds.

I learnt about SIPs,investing in mid-cap and multi-cap funds but the most important fact that missed my attention is something I am about to share with you — something that will resonate with you and make you think twice before choosing a mutual fund that simply gives you better returns.

You don’t get to choose the companies the fund manager selects to create a portfolio.

I know this is not an earth-shattering fact and this feature is actually considered to be the USP of mutual funds as it translates into risk distribution,but consider this– if you are someone who does not believe in,say, alcohol ,you might not want to be involved in promoting (directly or indirectly) alcohol consumption of any kind.

In my case I had invested in SBI FMCG  fund that had a certain percentage invested in United Breweries (which I found out much later). I did not want anything to do with United Breweries group after the Kingfisher Airlines debacle and so exited the fund.

There is no crime in a fund manager investing in profit-making companies but when given the choice to decide the direction of your investment, one would always opt for companies that are in sync with one’s values. Also, if you do want to invest in certain companies you can buy shares in them directly.

At the end of the day, people should educate themselves about investing while remaining thoughtful about how their money can make the wrong impact.

Is Ohm really a magic word?

A few years ago, when I visited the barber for a haircut (obviously)– he was playing some kind of religious CD and one word was repeated over and over again.
That word was “OHM”.

Listening to it had a soothing effect on me and I decided to delve deeper. Since I am in India, it was fairly easy to get in touch with Hindu friends who informed me that the word had some theraupetic effect but could not pinpoint the exact reason behind its effectiveness. I dismissed the whole reasoning as hogwash and forgot all about it.

Last week I was reading an article on Forbes about how breathing can help you control your emotions at workplace and some facts in the article enabled me to piece together the missing pieces of the ” OHM puzzle”.

Apparently exhaling lowers your heart rate while inhaling increases it.

Increased heart rate also results in the release of free radicals into your blood. Generally antioxidant intake is recommended to fight the negative effects of  free radicals. So,saying OHM in a very slow and deliberate manner actually helps lower heart rate.Controlling your breathing to avoid sudden increases in heart rate helps control amount of free radicals generated.Also, if you strategically increase your antioxidant intake ,you will experience a noticeable improvement in your overall health. If I were to use a formula to illustrate my point it would be like this :

Lower heart rate + Anti-oxidants = Good Health due to lesser free radicals

Conclusion : OHM is not a magic word that transports you into a cosmic universe and makes you a demi-god but can certainly improve your health if used as a mantra chant.

How much of “Movie Time” can you really afford?

Very often people wrongly attribute movie-watching to a loss in productivity. They can’t be more wrong. Movie- watching gives your mind a temporary break from everyday stress and can be used effectively to recharge your batteries (figuratively speaking) and change your perspective.

But how much of “movie time” is really beneficial?

When you watch movies in theaters,you have lesser distractions and your movie experience is completed soon. However,if you watch movies at home,the commercials that appear at regular intervals and the fact that you have a remote handy to switch to another channel, can force you into a bad-habit of multi-tasking with your movie experience.

It is now proven that multi-tasking makes you dumb.

The number of film award functions,success bashes and film review programs ensure that you spend a lot of time idolizing your star while you lose precious time; time that you could have spent building skills.

If you have been doing this (like a million other people),I recommend that you take a pen and paper (or use your computer if you are touchy about unwanted paper usage) and log your TV activities for a week and you will be surprised at the amount of time spent on aimless TV browsing.

So, the next time that you catch yourself flipping TV channels remember that you are just progressing towards a dumber version of yourself and that it is better to watch films in theaters or DVDs for lesser distraction.

Myntra’s “app only” move : Boon or Bane?

A few days ago Myntra announced their shift to an “app-only” mode. Will this affect Myntra? Should or Snapdeal follow suit? Let’s find out:

Myntra has 10 million plus users as of now. Since Flipkart acquired Myntra,this “app only” move might be an experiment by Flipkart to determine if they can move to “app only” mode too in the future (Bansal indicated that as per reports) .What does this mean for the end user?

Apps provide an edge as offers are sent to users’ mobile via push notifications and user location data is also accurate. This enables companies to fine tune their positioning strategies. At first,Myntra might send out outrageous offers which might prompt current users to recommended to their friends (who can only avail of the offer if they have Myntra installed). Myntra will then track the app install numbers to look for a healthy spike which will pave the way for a Flipkart “app only”  mode. Flipkart (or Myntra) gets a lot of “face time” as you will be spending a lot more time on push notifications.Advertising budget on other mediums could be trimmed.

Other e-commerce competitors might not follow suit simply to differentiate themselves or the user adoption rates might convince them to go the “app-only” route.

On the downside,you will be spending more for your mobile  internet pack (Wondering what “net neutrality” fans have to say about this!!).So ,if you are going to use your mobile phone/tablet to shop make sure you use your home (or office!!) Wi-fi to avoid spending a lot on your mobile internet recharges.

Food for Thought…Ugh!!

Discovered a weird correlation a few months ago and never actually thought it was a big deal but realized that there might be people out there who might benefit…here it is:–

Do you keep your toothbrush exposed in the restroom? What do I mean by exposed?Well,like this(see below)..

OK,now you might ask, SO WHAT? Now for a short science lesson….you do remember that water is constantly in a state of evaporation and condensation? Well,if your toothbrushes are located next to an open toilet bowl,guess where the water can condense!!(Water does not evaporate/condense in straight lines so just having your toothbrushes in the bathroom exposes them).

So next time you get  diarrhea or any illness that the doctor says was transmitted via the “fecal-oral route” don’t be wondering “ How did this happen? I’m Indian and I always eat with my left hand …”, just ensure that your oral hygiene goes that extra mile by placing your toothbrush(es) outside the bathroom.

P.S : I am Indian and I did have a friend who wondered aloud about the “fecal-oral route” to illness and hence this post 🙂