Dear reader,

I’m a day late. India have been playing cricket in the West Indies for the last month or so, and as one of the commentators at work, I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of migrating my cycles completely to a North American time zone, whilst still being rooted largely to South Bangalore. By that yardstick, this is still kind of a Tuesday newsletter.

This is cyclical. Almost anyone who has known me over the last three years has probably endured a Q2 of whining, crankiness, and cynicism in twice the usual doses. If hibernation was an Olympic event, this is where I’d get found out as a rookie: I struggle to sleep for days, and then I only sleep for days.

Fortunately, I’m given enough time in the middle to play this whole charade out, which is a rare commodity these days. But more on that later.

First, I must tell you that the Nightingales from the last newsletter either went into hibernation this week or also have generous bosses. The festivities for Ganesha happened in, you guessed it, the badminton court. It’s nowhere near as structured or formal as the independence day celebrations. By this I mean it was an open mic for children who, I realised Monday morning, are all rappers now. Turns out all this while, apna time aayega was really just a very precise public campaign for 10:30am on September 2.

As you can imagine, this ebb and flow in sleep has led to a misty existence. I’ve challenged someone to a game of ice hockey, when I meant air hockey. I no longer know where my ID card is, which means I’ve had to sweet talk the receptionist for ten days. Minutes before sitting down to write this, I used the wrong settings on my trimmer. The upside is that I’m now lighter. The downside is that’s not ideal for my ice hockey preparation.

I’m amused how, week after week, my fear of not having something comical to report to you gets obliterated. I suppose it says something about my clumsiness. And in this particular context, with time and sleep in the picture, it ties closely with the main theme of the story of the week, which is productivity.

Around this time last year, the aforementioned Shoulders of September were let into one of my schemes. It was simply called Sleep Hacking. The idea was that I’d track the various things that affected sleep – light, caffeine intake, ambient noise, proximity to apartment celebrations – and “hack” my way to proper sleep by notching up or down all of those parameters. Ambitious, difficult, and quite possibly pseudo-scientific. Ironically, it never happened because I was too tired. Because I wasn’t sleeping enough.

To this day, it remains an empty page in my Bullet Journal, another of many productivity tools I tried after India’s startup boom brought with it a lot of Silicon Valley’s literature around the topic. As if importing their business ideas wasn’t enough.

It turns out this push for productivity, and building tools to ensure it happens, has long been around in the world. The modern era’s first documented “productivity consultant” made upwards of what would be nearly $400,000 in 2016 (which is when the story of the week came out). It has long been an obsession, and writer Oliver Burkeman all but confirms that most of it is based on flimsy grounds and doesn’t actually work over the long term. Even here, irony isn’t too distant: he makes this point over a piece that will take you a lot of time to finish. And you better finish it, because I will quiz you.

It was the last piece I read before I began writing this email. At the end of it, I was amused again. After all my efforts to stay sharp, caffeinated, and intelligible, my sub-conscience could barely distinguish the types of hockey; perhaps Burkeman was right after all. For a moment, I was ready to reconsider a big part of my lifestyle.

But in a delightful bit of cosmic scripting, it was the exact moment in which I received a notification from my favourite podcast, the Tim Ferris Show. His latest episode was out – The Art of Getting Things Done, with guest David Allen, a renowned productivity consultant.

The downside is I continue to be hooked to the concept. The upside is I will still, likely, never run out of comical things to report.

V

 

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