To measure, or not to measure: Life Hacks by Charles Assisi

Updated on Aug 24, 2019 08:13 PM IST
Whether you live by the meter or not, routine is a must
Some people believe progress can be measured in units.(Shutterstock Image)
Some people believe progress can be measured in units.(Shutterstock Image)
Hindustan Times | ByCharles Assisi

When I first encountered the “you-can’t-manage-what-you-cannot-measure” school of thought as a young business journalist, it sounded profound. Practitioners believe when an outcome is defined, the steps to get there must be articulated as well. Progress can then be measured in quantifiable units.

Some years later, I encountered another breed who dismissed this notion as corporate gibberish. How can intangibles such as creativity and innovation be measured, they asked. Indeed!

It was inevitable then I wrestle with questions such as: Is it better to live a measured life? Or am I better off with unquantifiable intangible values? On poring over notes from conversations with thought leaders and personal experiences, it appears, the truth lies someplace in between.

On listening to both kinds closely, a thread binds them – a fanaticism with routine. And in attempting to take a leaf from their books, for some time now, I have attempted to be fastidious about routine and keep track of outcomes. Basis that, I now know a few things about myself.

1.A time audit has made it obvious that to perform at optimum, I need three hours of screen-free time in the mornings. Investigating why productivity drops on days when I get to the screen earlier eventually led me to Cardiograph, a heart rate (HR) monitoring app on my phone. My HR shoots into the high 70s as opposed to staying in the late-60s when I get to the screen later in the morning.

Apparently, no time out with self in the morning makes me fidgety and leads to a high HR. Consequently, I perform at sub-optimum levels.

2.Extracting three hours every morning, however, sounded impossible unless I sacrificed sleep. Even the thought was tiring. Until my friend Dr Rajat Chauvan, a sport medicine doctor, pointed out “it is not how long you sleep that matters, but how well you sleep”. His advice led me to deploy a sleep tracking device.

What I now know is that if I can get between 100-120 minutes of Stage 3 sleep (deep sleep), I’m good. More observations suggest sleep of this kind is possible on nights when the last meal is had no later than 7:30 pm and contains very little or no carbohydrates.

3.Now, money is what most of us deploy as a metric to measure success. But as the chairman of an infrastructure company once told me, it is a flawed tool. Because each time anyone acquires what they think is enough, they shift the goal post. Success, to him, is a state of mind, when he experiences satisfaction. There is no metric to measure it. And to experience it, he must walk a line where there is no dichotomy between his professional and personal life. He is in perpetual beta. It is a good way to be.

(The writer is co-founder at Founding Fuel & co-author of The Aadhaar Effect)
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