14 Dec 2015

I am Conducting an Experiment on Myself

Recently, I tried to revive a music project with a friend.“I would love to, dude,” he said. “But I don’t have time.” He is not the only one faces this challenge. Many people say: “I would love to [insert activity] if only I had time.” Some of the activities include rest. I shudder to think that some people are so busy that they have no time to rest. In fact, I have started feeling like I am lazier than I thought, because I rarely am, if ever, hard pressed for time.

Then again, the bias of the mind is such that it overestimates everything it does. I thought that my ‘time management’ techniques were note-worthy, that people should learn from me. And so I thought of writing a blog post titled ‘6 More Things to Do When You Don’t Have Time’.

Interesting paradox, isn’t it?

I jotted down six ‘activities’ for people to do when they feel like they don’t have time. Then came doubts. This would be another boring, preachy, ‘knowledge dispersing’ post where the adage ‘those who can’t do, teach” would ring true. Some readers would appreciate it, the vast majority would ignore it, and the post would be forgotten within one day of being published. So I thought of taking it one step further.

I would try it on myself first.

I don’t suffer from dearth of time largely because I ignore irrelevant things (almost everything, actually), and because of a poor, virtually non existent, social life (my friends will vouch for that).

It worked wonders for me in the last year. I amassed a lot of knowledge in this period, reading articles online and trying things out, some of which worked while others didn’t. I have learned by getting my hands dirty, something that I could not do in the corporate world.

But I have hit a brick wall now. My ability of keeping things simple has been compromised, and so has my penchant for staying calm. I am stuck in a rut and my perspectives are restricted because I barely meet people. I have begun talking too much, pushing forth my points rather than trying to understand the person in front. I have started thinking that I know what is best for others. I have become lazy and complacent, and have procrastinated on an important project for over a year.

These are not my best days.

I have two choices to address this predicament: I can either wallow in self pity and blame circumstances, or I can fix it. I choose the former.

Just kidding, I choose the latter.

Here is the deal. I am conducting a 21-day experiment on myself (which started on 10th December) and will share the results with you. It takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I will try to form more than one in them.

There are 168 hours in a week. Below are the six activities, and the tentative amount of time that I will spend on them each week.

  1. Meet friends - 6 hours: The people who say “What? You’re crazy!”, don’t count as friends. The ones who say “You’re crazy and I love it”, do. So I will meet more of the latter. Hopefully I will upload more Facebook and Instagram-worthy photos, or at least be tagged in some.
  2. Exercise - 5 hours: I already exercise this much each week, so this shouldn’t be difficult to manage.
  3. Read - 7 hours: I read so much online that I have been ignoring good books which have shaped my thinking. I’m going to return to reading, with the aim of covering at least 20 pages a day.
  4. New Experiences - 4 hours: This includes listening to and making new music, attending conferences and exhibitions (if applicable) and anything else which plunges me into something new.
  5. Waste Time - 14 hours: Time spent on social media and in front of the idiot box (even news and sports) is time wasted. I will try to waste 6 hours between Monday and Friday, and 14 on weekends.

    Reading useful articles will not be considered wasting time, nor will doing household chores so that mom stops complaining about me being unmarried and her ‘not having a helping hand around the house’.
  6. Sleep - 50 hours: A minimum of 7 hours each day.

These sum up to 87 hours, which means I am left with 81 hours each week to work, complete household chores, eat food and travel for meetings. I’m thinking that should be enough.

How did I come up with these numbers? I don’t know. I’m just shooting from the hip. These numbers are not carved in stone. As I mentioned before, they are tentative. Plus, I’m still working on efficiently keeping track of this.

This experiment is not to see how much I work. It’s about evolving as a person. I believe that meeting encouraging people and exposing myself to new experiences will motivate me to do what is important, that reading will improve my writing and thinking, and seeing that I have only 81 hours a week to complete whatever I want to will make me more productive.

I could have started today, right? It’s Monday, the beginning of a new week. But I started on 10th December. The end of the experiment will coincide with 31st December, the end of 2015. On 1st January, 2016, I will have the results to share with you. And yes, I will keep tweeting about stuff with the hashtag #my21daychallenge. (It’s an old hashtag but nobody is currently using it. So why reinvent the wheel?) Engage with the hashtag and share your encouragement, insights, criticism or anything that you feel will help me.

Now, there are two choices. And I will choose between them depending upon what you suggest.

  1. I make a note of weekly progress and share my victories and challenges with you each week
  2. I make a note of weekly progress and share it with you at the end of three weeks.

What would you prefer? Wish me luck.


  1. Hi Vishal. Its comnendable that you have taken up this challenge to optimally use your time and still have a lot of fun. I went introspecting myself and realized, what you say is true...we keep saying no time to do this, that.....but it all boils down to effective time management. Shailaja had recently put up a fantastic post on time management, and after reading it I have become more conscious of the hours wasted in futile chores. I hope you pull off this experiment to your satisfaction. And I think I would like to hear weekly updates of #my21daychallenge. The least I can do is cheer a good challenge....one I personally find rather challenging ;)

    1. Thanks Kala. It's no nice to see your supportive around everytime. Weekly updates it is :)

  2. Kudos to you for testing the waters yourself & choosing to practice before you preach.

    I think it's a great challenge and if you're able to pull it off the way you're hoping to, it should boost your self-confidence by notches & give you an insight on what actually you do with your time.
    I am going to be following your updates & that hashtag :)
    However, since it is a 21 day challenge, it'll be better if you record the updates as per #2 to allow more flexibility to yourself in recording the overall success in every area.

    Good Luck Vishal :)

    1. True, ME. And God knows I need to get out there and broaden my mind. Will keep 'em weekly blog posts coming along with the regular tweets :)

  3. This is such an interesting experiment, Vishal. I mean, seriously, I know what you are saying. I also crib about the lack of time. But then I am a wife and mother too so I guess I have a right to crib. :) But seriously, organizing oneself not only makes one feel much more in control but also manage the same hours rather well. Going through your list, I am sorted for exercising and sleeping. Probably put in more hours than you have budgeted for. Meeting friends could improve a bit and wasting time could come down a bit. Definitely need to work on my reading books time. I have 3 new ones at home but have not been able to sit and read them. Time to start now. Sure, would love to hear your weekly updates. And good luck!

    1. I knew you would connect with this post Rachna. And yes, as a mom of 2 young boys and an entrepreneur, you have every right to crib. I hope that with time, things smoothen out for you. I will change the hours being put in as you suggested. And I will share weekly updates here apart from the tweets :)

      Thanks for always being a strong support.

  4. And what happens after 21 days? I am keen to know that.

  5. Amazing initiative !!

    And now I am intrigued by two things.

    1. Why do u call it a challenge, where as you have mentioned in the blog as it to be an experiment? By the terms of references of the game too, it looks more of an experiment. Also, for a person of your caliber, this is miles away from being a challenge. For leaders like you, a challenge should really challenge you. This in no ways is a challenge for amazing people like you.
    2. You have mentioned that this is a 21 day experiment because after 21 days, this would become a habit. I am actually now more interested in listening to results post 3 months, rather than 3 weeks or one week !!

    Best wishes for the experiment, dude. Keep inspiring people around you. :)

    1. You are too kind, Purvesh. It is a challenge because I am uncomfortable being social and have restricted myself in various activities for many years. And an experiment because I have a hypothesis that I will be able to manage time better and broaden my perspective by doing more of what is mentioned above, and not putting all hours in work.

      Let's see how things go. Keep inspiring me :)

  6. This is an interesting experiment, Vishal. I need some serious time management strategies. I don't get nearly enough sleep/rest. That is the area I compromise on, and I know I shouldn't.

    I would love it if you could do weekly updates, but do whatever is convenient for you. I will be following along.

    1. Thanks for dropping by and the encouragement, Shanaya. Weekly updates on the blog post it is, along with the daily tweets :)

  7. If you could afford a little more flexibility with the hours (which I am sure you would) this sounds to me more like an adventure and less of an experiment. You couldn't have chosen a better time either, a new YOU in the new year! Wow. How exciting! This is seriously inspiring stuff. Kudos for making an effort already and more for writing about it on your blog. Your journey will inspire many others who are rocking the same boat and are finding newer ways out of inner experiences that are generally not widely spoken about.

    I hope you enjoy this mini-adventure of yours and come out with a unique experience that has loads of depth and meaning for you and newer living perspectives for all of us. Good Luck, Vishal! Can't wait to hear more about it.

    1. Now that you point it out, Arti, it does sound more like an adventure :)

      Thank you for the wishes. I can't wait to discover how this mini-adventure unfolds too. Will share the results consistently. Cheers!


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