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What do you do with your downtime?

A clockface

Do you have some downtime this week? I’m sure if you thought more careful about how you spend your days, you could probably find 30 minutes on most days when you are not really doing anything. Do you have any unfinished tasks on your to-do list from last week? It could be an annoying task you have been putting off for a few days such as dropping off your laundry or rearranging the books on your shelf. What if you chipped away at those catch up tasks for 30 minutes each day during your downtime?

A person sleepy in front of a laptop
A lot of downtime is spent on idle browsing

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Reply when you can

A reply email icon

Two weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend. He was complaining about the expectation people have of receiving an instant reply whenever they send out a message. Although he and I laughed about it and joked about people who check whatsapp once a week, the conversation stayed in my head. My friend was making a very valid point: we feel the need to stay connected to data all the time and share the expectation that everyone else is. As a result, people expect you to reply messages as soon as they send them.

The problem with thinking that way is people get annoyed when they don’t get replies a few seconds after sending a message (especially if the app says the recipient is online). This would be funny except it has real world consequences for relationships. Everyone has a friend who is notorious for never replying messages on time. The one who fails to confirm they are available for the weekend hangout you planned and shows up at the last minute. We blame that friend for ruining our weekend plans. You all know of a couple who had a fight because one of them failed to reply a message until two hours later.

An open envelope with a loudspeaker coming out of it
You might as well shout “Reply when you see this.”

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Finding Hope

Hope

Q2 is over. This is normally the time when you’d do a midyear review of your personal development plan and celebrate your latest successes. Unfortunately, 2020 has not been a regular year for anyone. It is safe to say most people’s plans for the year have been shot. No one planned for COVID-19. You have probably had to adapt to a new way of working. You might have struggled to keep your business afloat and pay your staff. A lot of people are struggling to buy food and aren’t doing much casual shopping. Tailors lamented poor patronage during Ramadan. No one was thinking of making clothes for sallah. Everyone was just trying to survive.

A smiley Icon
This is in short supply

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Take off a few hats

Judy trying to look after six children

How many hats are you wearing right now? If you have a job, you wear an employee hat. Perhaps you also run a side hustle that employs one or two staff, in which case you also wear a boss hat for your business. You might also be married and wear a spouse hat. If you have children, you also wear a parent hat. What other duties do you perform at home? Are you the chef, the one everyone relies on to organise events or laundry?

Stress
End result of too many hats

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Staying positive during lockdown

Four emojis

It’s been a difficult time for many. The corona pandemic came out of nowhere and caught the world unprepared. Depending on where you live, you may currently be experiencing a total lockdown. Even if your Government allows you to leave your home, you probably have to abide by new rules to keep yourself and others safe. In some places, Governments have started easing restrictions but there is still a great deal of uncertainty over whether it is safe to go out, return to school or go to the market. Under these circumstances, it is understandable that those who can afford to are staying at home as much as they can.

Stay Home
Not everyone is handling this well

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Are you spending too much time at the office?

A work schedule

The classic hustler story is of a young entrepreneur possessed of zeal who goes days without sleep working on a project that after many years yields them great profit. During that time, all other concerns such as family responsibilities, food and healthcare miraculously vanish. How else could you explain someone working for a month without sleep?

A man typing at a laptop in an office
Late night at work aren’t always a good thing

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Get some rest

Sleepy smiley

“We didn’t sleep when we are tired. We sleep when we are done.”

–  Someone’s tweet

A few weeks ago, I saw this on twitter. Someone had probably felt good about something they had done and wanted to give themselves a pat on the back. Going without sleep, the person seemed to suggest was the way to get your goals achieved. I don’t know about you but I have a feeling that person had attended one too many “Aspire to acquire” motivational speakers.

A sleeping brown cat
Cats have the right idea

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They are everywhere

A phone screen displaying "1 new message"

Where is your phone? In your pocket? A handbag? On a table in front of you? Or in your hand reading this article? Another question: How many phones do you have?

A lot of Nigerians have more than one phone. The logic seems to be use your smartphone for social media and have a dumb phone for use as a backup. Wherever you go today, you are likely to see someone happily pressing away at their phone’s screen. It’s no longer uncommon to see two people on a “date” busy typing away at their phones, completely ignoring each other.

A sea of phones
You can have too much of the good thing

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Don’t fall for the inspiration fallacy

A lightbulb in the rain

We have all heard about it. Something like the strike of thunder or a bird landing on your shoulders. The brain sees hidden patterns where none existed before. Words come to mind unbidden. You are seized with a violent work ethic and produce a great masterpiece in 24 hours. Some call it inspiration. Many wait for their muse to be the guide that will let them set words to paper. Let me provide some free advice: If you are still waiting for inspiration before you get started, there is a word for what you are doing. It’s called Procrastination.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

– Stephen King

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How do you feel today?

Positive thoughts

One of my favourite books is “Don’t be sad” by Aid al-Qarni. It is riddled with practical examples on how to deal with adversity and develop a pragmatic approach to dealing with life’s problems. Problems are a part of life. Nobody is going to have good days all the time. There will be situations that annoy us, make us angry or make us want to despair. Our feelings can have a very large influence on our productivity by being either positive or negative force multipliers. If you wake up with a smile on your face and get a healthy breakfast, you are likely to approach the day’s tasks with a more positive frame of mind. Start the day with a fight after having slept fitfully without electricity and being bitten throughout the night by mosquitoes, however, and your productivity is likely to take a nosedive for the rest of the day.

A big smiley icon
Need I say more

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