Boeing 777-200 in silhoutte

Learning every week – 14-Feb-2020

It’s travel week, and it will be a travel week almost every week for the next month. I am writing this in a flight to Mumbai and will connect to Goa where we have Axelerant offsite and retreat over next week. Over my 6+ years at Axelerant, this will be my 5th retreat. Considering that we are an entirely distributed organisation, this retreat is one of the most important times of the year. I’m looking forward to learnings next week. Let’s get started for this week.


This is from NPR’s indicator podcast episode on the first milestone of Economics according to Steven Medema. This is a poem in 8th century BC which covers how to properly manage a household. The poem is a response by Hesiod to his brother, Perses, who had squandered half his inheritance and was after Hesiod’s share too. In the poem, Hesiod mentions three fundamental things about managing a household which is relevant even today as economic themes: scarcity, shame, and envy.

Like I keep saying, there is something to learn from everyone, and ancient wisdom is its own special thing. Listen to this episode even if you’re not really into economics (which doesn’t make sense since it affects us all).

Time Management

This article takes a deeper look at the issue of time management than just suggesting tricks or tools. It starts by breaking down the approach to three parts: Awareness, Arrangement, and Adaptation. Most of the popular “solutions” we hear about target the “Arrangement” of the problem, and not enough attention is given to awareness and adaptation, but these are the things necessary to make an effective habit.

Awareness tells you what the problem is which you are trying to solve and without this, just trying solutions isn’t effective. Adaptation is about how you are able to change tactics based on your experience with the solutions you are using. You can read more about this in the article but here I am going to share something I found interesting.

“The evidence revealed that their preferences for multitasking (what academics call “polychronicity”) were actually unrelated to time management skills.”

This is interesting because all the books and articles I have read recommend against multitasking. Yet here the study says it doesn’t make a difference to their time management skills. I think it is important to note that this is just about time management skills. Multi-tasking may still be a bad idea, especially if the tasks you are working on are even slightly creative.

The article talks about various tactics (arrangements) and adaptation strategies and it supports that with this:

“But remember that skills, not personality, are the most malleable personal attributes and provide the greatest ROI on self-improvement efforts.”

This tells us that we might want to make efforts to “change ourselves” to be better at something but that is not an effective strategy. It is far better to build skills that let you enjoy immediate returns and once it becomes a habit, it becomes a part of who you are.

Named Entity Recognition

I found this article in my feed and found it very useful to understand entity recognition and NLP techniques at a beginner level. The article uses the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) and counts character references through NLP. It begins with what is entity recognition and how to use Spacy. While not very in-depth, it is useful for beginners like me to get started.

Becoming the best person

I was really happy to see that WorkLife with Adam Grant podcast is returning in March. In a bonus episode about Work Advice, Adam Grant talks to Cheryl Strayed about how to give (and receive) advice. One of the things they talk about the concept of becoming the best person possible by giving (or receiving) advice and that’s when Adam Grant says that becoming the best person is scary because there is always something to learn. And then says this:

“The best version of yourself is looking for a better version of themselves.” (Paraphrased)

I thought this was very eloquently put and I couldn’t resist tweeting it immediately. It’s nothing new, of course, but tells it in a way which makes it obvious and memorable.

That’s it for today folks. It wasn’t long, mainly due to my travel schedule, and it is likely to remain like this for the next few weeks. But I still intend to write this every week. So, see you next week.






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