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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time Management Guide For Unfortunate People Living in Under Developed Countries

I spent all morning, applying for my car license renewal application. It was one of my most daunting nightmares in wasting time. There were no signs, no instructions and the only skill I needed to renew an Egyptian car license was to follow my gut. I stood in a line for 3 hours and when my turn came the (DMV lady) looked at my paper and said; sorry wrong window go to the next one. I looked at the next window to find an endless line that might take more than 3 hours to reach it. I took a deep breath with complete silence, patience, grace and waited in that other line. Then my day ended with I had a missing paper to get from another department and it’s my fault for not forecasting and predicting that missing paper. 

I really don’t want to discuss the details of this specific story because it literally keeps reminding me of how 4 days of my life got wasted on doing nothing expect renewing my car license. I developed a habit of waiting from 8 am at the window for the DMV lady to have her breakfast. Since, it was a transparent glass I managed to steal a glance at the contents of her breakfast which were eggs, cucumbers, nasty smelling cheese (mesh) and tea. 

Then she opened the window giving me a complete disgusting look to my face. Then took my papers and that’s the moment I prayed to god in complete serenity that she accepts it.

Honestly, most of the times my prayers weren't powerful enough. She returned my folder back and gave me new instructions much different than the ones of the day before. What bothers me the most, is that I got my folder with an extra bonus of the smell of her rotten cheese (mesh). It seemed she hadn't washed her hands after breakfast. At that precise moment, I got the urge to burn the folder and to persuade myself on what’s wrong with the concept of riding a bicycle.

I've read tens of books around time management, hundreds of articles from different authors. But to be honest with you it never worked for me. All methods weren't relevant to my subtle lifestyle here in Egypt. 

Obviously, the time management authors haven't met the DMV lady. She enslaved me for 4 days from 8 am to 4 pm to finish a piece of paper flavored with rotten cheese. I swear I used every method they taught in their books and seminars in a practical way suitable to my day but it never lasted. 

I made audio CDs in my car as the roads in Egypt are always jammed so hopefully hearing an audiobook will enhance my auditory learning skills plus I get to learn a new knowledge. This sounds so stunning but the author who recommended this idea didn't know that I struggle every second in my car to avoid a car accident. Not I pumping into someone else’s car but it seem drivers never heard of rear-view mirror. It's a side mirror comes with every car in the world. I presume who ever invented this mirror was aiming for the drivers to look at it, however drivers in Egypt find it useless some even close it and majority just remove it! presuming it's something EXTRA.

Also same goes for left and right flasher. Why use them when others could rely on their hunch and predict if he or she goes right or left. I think my driving skills here in Egypt are based on me understanding driver's feelings. This is a great daily experience in enhancing my emotional intelligence. so, telling me to follow the audio book in this freak show is complete non-sense.

I keep wondering if Steven Covey was living in Egypt in our current times he would have written a book called the 7 Habits of Not Getting Screwed Up. I mean when I was in college I knew I was going to get screwed eventually in this society from the moment I graduate. But it seems I had to feel it to admit it out loud. You see I only have one problem with the system there is NONE. In my college days I had to return back to my country simply because my patriotic father told me you'll get the best education in this beloved country. My dad has great emotions towards this country he has a dream one day for Egypt to become one of the great independent industrial countries. I love this side of my dad he never turns his back on his homeland. 

However turning to my point of view after tasting the disease of the corruption in people's souls I can only say it's far beyond cancer that must be left or else you'll get infected. After all of this I can only say it’s funny to see personal development trainers talking about time management in Egypt. I have to say I’m so pizzled this word entered our dictionary of being puzzled and pissed at the same time.

After writing my recent blog post on YouTube and big couches discussing the importance of reading a friend contacted me and said:
“Saleh I think I can feel the energy you spread but how can a nation read when they are committed to full time daily labor to provide the minimum requirements of food on the table. Your post is irrelevant to our Egyptian society since you are only talking to people with full stomachs! Poverty has great side-effects, the major one is ignorance. The system you are living in likes to rule poor ignorant people because of the moment they stop racing for food, they'll start to think. Leading to complains and trouble for the government, the best solution is to quiet them down with poverty." End of message.

I got only one replay for this message. Dear, the system you keep mentioning is currently absent. In Egypt there is no system. 3 months ago I made a video called “Obey the system” at that time I thought there was a system!

From Micro-scale, This so called system is usually based on one lazy man or woman who gets up in the morning. If he or she feels fine, then don’t worry your day will go alright. If he or she woke up feeling a little bit disturbed then you are certainly screwed. And never ever disturb whoever in charge, when eating breakfast. You’ll get the most severe definition of the word “screwed". trust me based on a personal true story.

Now I am not going to dig deep into the dirty politics we currently have, since it's not my thing. So far I am only giving depressing facts but with no solutions but don't skip to conclusions there is still hope hiding in the dark. I am reaching for individuals like you and me, not systems nor groups. You can never change a big system (if there was any) but you can definitely change yourself to the most efficient state. There are several common problems I need to issue and discuss.

The Myth of Multi-Tasking

Have you ever done two or more things at once eating while watching television, scratching your head during a phone call or texting while driving. I remember that famous slogan spread all over Egypt "texting and driving don't mix".
Yoda says: your focus is your reality. 
Imagine me and you first time entering an office. This office consists of 3 main things; 2 banners promoting free trip to Sydney and the third thing is a walking spider on those 2 banners spreading his web with passion. As for me, I love traveling, the first thing I’ll spot is the free sydney trip and I'll day-dream of me smelling the beautiful aroma of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney. 

This situation might differ for you if you had an arachnophobia (afraid of spiders) and I told you during this split second check out this free trip to Sydney all expenses paid! The only thing you'll do is screaming looking aimlessly to find something to hit that spider with. You will never ever respond to this offer. You might even get blind enough to not notice a camera in the room to find it was all a planned will have your complete attention focused on one thing avoiding all distractions. 

Those distractions can be two things SENSORY, this means while you reading my article you are distracted away from lyrics of the music if you were playing any or not thinking about the movement directions of your tongue or eyes while reading this. It's about avoiding sensations this type of distraction is easy to avoid.

The second one is the most difficult which is the EMOTIONAL. Like a recent blowup in a close relationship or the loss of a family member. The more our focus gets disrupted, the worse we do.

Overcoming your emotional waves during the day will increase your focus skills. You'll have an immune system against emotional disturbance.

The only reason why you can ride a bicycle with no longer worrying to fall down because….

The more we practice a routine, the more the basal ganglia take it over from other parts of the brain. This leads us to pay less attention—and finally none—as it becomes automatic.

At first you struggle learning a new skill once it starts becoming a routine you stop thinking on the mechanism and start using it unaware. Like learning a new language you get frustrated with the grammar at first and after 2 years of practice you speak it fluently not worrying a bit about rules of the language.

Lacking focus, means less long term memory having nothing to recall later on. That is why multi-tasking can mess your life up getting a false illusion being active all day. But after one month of analysis on a skill you experienced simply you'll get so little in comparison with someone focused. Recent researches say there is no such thing as multi-tasking. It is called switch tasking, going from task to another. This is all distractions and the more distracted we are the more shallow our reflections.
Most of us have a handful of strong personal ties meaning close trusted friends. We share with them our personal events, hang out, chat and enjoy the companionship. We can have hundreds maybe thousands of so called weak ties (like Facebook friends who never met them or have superficial relation with them) who do you focus with?

Time Management is Nearly Obsolete in Underdeveloped Countries

Have you ever noticed yourself doing so well in good mood. While on the contrary, having a bad mood can give you fewer results although you spent same amount of time with same tasks but with different moods.

Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement, recommends that we manage our energy not our time.

Energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals.

Exercise, and diet is vitally important, however, spiritual and feelings about oneself and the environment is also vitally important.

That is why create your own bubble of positive people that surround you. Keep away from the negative ones they can be contagious. 

Eat healthy to avoid any disease or food poisoning. Have a powerful relation with god. For me as a Muslim I'm obligated to pray 5 times a day this nourishes the soul and recharge the energy. This can only happen if a Muslim prayed with complete focus. Based of the definition of focus mentioned previously if prayed with it and got surrounded by 12 gorillas, 2 chipmunks and 5 dancing monkeys playing saxophone. You should not feel distracted at all. 

As the beauty in that prayer is to get immersed in a new dimension that cannot described into words. 

Always keep yourself in a strong bond with your family as this for some reason induces a new energy flame that can never be quenched unless you break this bond.

It's all about energy I believe in the law of 80/20 which says; 20 percent of your activity will lead to 80 percent of your productivity.

Ask yourself this simple question; When you get up in the morning, are you happy getting to work, school, or whatever absorbs your day?

Majority are either stressed or bored and only exceptional cases when their day start to get exciting. It seems most don’t know the purpose of what they do therefore no enjoyment making no good energy to flow and finish the task efficiently.

High achievers you see out-there they found their purpose, they loved what they do.

Ask your Mom when you were a baby how did she had the energy to wake up in the middle of the night just to calm you down, hug you, kiss you. And she can do it for over 10 times in one night constantly without being tired or bored. It’s the energy of love, it's mother's love. It's energy than can never be broken until the mother dies.

I share with you this energy concept in hope to pass it on to the loved ones.

However this doesn’t tune out time management completely I managed to make my own system hope it works for you. Been using it for one year and it's doing great to analyze my progress in life. Here is an example of a current picture I have on my wall. 

as you can see, this illustrates my analysis to my behavior in my day, despite those big 4 RED X's because of the cute DMV lady. Anyway, any activity I find effective, important or positive I must add it to the schedule. Anything extra I do in the day like reading a book, travelling to a certain place, visiting family, writing an article, volunteer work, new progress in work.

I exclude stuff I usually do daily like for example praying, sleeping (certain amount of hours), eating, walking, usual work, and all the routines that no longer became something considered as a new achievement, as you don’t want to make your schedule messy with non-important stuff.

This schedule is important to keep and after 6 month analyze what did you do in the last 6 month then ask yourself weather were those 6 month worth spending or you need to rise up the bars a little bit higher on your activities. Always save this monthly schedule in your archive to judge yourself and have a personal talk with yourself every 6 month.

And you can always check this book out if you are interested to read for Daniel Goleman on his latest book called “FOCUS – THE HIDDEN DRIVER OF EXCELLENCE”. Thanks for reading.