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Photo: Jayachandran/Mint
Photo: Jayachandran/Mint

Opinion | Tune into the blues to work smart

From blue-sky thinking to creating a sharp blueprint for the year ahead, here are some ways to include the colour of 2020 into your life and finally strike that work-life balance

Blue has been declared the colour of 2020. The American Pantone Colour Institute, which made this announcement based on their trend forecast, has said blue is evocative of the vast and infinite skies, and that the colour is associated with communication, introspection, clarity and trust. There is evidence that blue aids concentration, and this colour also challenges us to think more deeply.

In a world cluttered with a million colourful distractions, these are surely some valuable thoughts for our life inside and outside the workplace.

Here are some interesting ways in which each of us can leverage the colour blue during the year ahead.

MAKE A SHARP BLUEPRINT

One of the best ways to ensure a fulfilling year is to make a sharp blueprint for yourself. Blue should be the colour of this print precisely because it brings clarity to what you do.

A sharp blueprint needs just three big objectives. Don’t clutter it with lists of 10 or 20 objectives because that will diffuse the blue. The blueprint could include professional objectives (for example, deliver on the big e-commerce marketing project for my team), learning objectives (build a new digital coding skill for myself) and personal objectives (enjoy at least two vacations with my partner this year, preferably in Goa and Greece).

In fact, a good blueprint should contain objectives on all these three fronts.

DO SOME EXTRA THINKING

Most managers, including this author, are generally addicted to action. That’s what gets our adrenaline going. As a result, we leave little time for thinking. Change this during 2020.

Make this the year of blue-sky thinking for yourself, in at least a couple of areas at work that are more important to you.

Blue-sky thinking is exactly what it means: painting a picture of all new possibilities for your business against a clear blue sky, which has nothing at all to cloud your vision.

For instance, if you are working at a startup focused on getting people to eat healthy nuts, get your team together at least once a week to figure out hundreds of new ways to get people to use almonds, peanuts or walnuts for snacking, in lunch boxes, in spontaneous recipes and even in carefully curated fine dining. Simply, make time for blue-sky thinking every week.

HIT THE MUSIC

Work hard and smart during the year, but also take time out to listen to the blues. Blues music typically includes notes that charm your heart and rhythms that drive your worries away and lift your souls.

That’s why jazz relaxes and calms us down, which is essential in our fast-paced lives.

That’s why each of us needs a passion outside work, which will relax and rejuvenate us. Your own version of “listening to the blues" may be to trek under a blue sky each month, or read by a blue seaside, or wear your blue sneakers and head out for a nice run each weekend.

The nice thing is, you can find your blues in any colour; it can be walking in a garden or dancing to peppy Bollywood songs.

Pick your passion, make some time for it each week and call it your blues. Your passion has the potential to transform your life.

Cut the lights

The blue lights of our digital devices play havoc with our lives. They are addictive, they distract us, and they even impinge on our sleep. So here is a “blue" that you can think of toning down during the year ahead.

We, of course, need our mobile phones but we can decide to turn them off at a pre-determined time each evening (for me it is, 10pm), well before we go to bed.

We can decide never to bring the blue digital lights to our family dining tables this year, so that we have more time for real conversations with our loved ones over dinner.

We can determine to keep the blue lights of our digital devices far away from us, when we are in important meetings or discussions, where our attention has to be on the speaker and what she is saying, rather than on WhatsApp or email messages that gatecrash their way into our dopamine-seeking minds.

If you cut the blue lights, you are creating the right environment to concentrate and communicate.

GOOD VERSUS BAD

Not all blues are good, though. To enjoy the year ahead, resolve to banish the morning blues. Also, there will be many ups and downs in our teams, and many things will not happen as we want them to because that’s the nature of our workplaces as well as life.

But that’s no reason to yield to Monday morning blues, or to the blues of disappointment.

The best way to banish all the workplace blues is to be resilient, to enjoy the voyage as much as the result, to celebrate victories big or small, and to relish every bit of work that we are doing.

What’s more, if we remember to constantly be grateful for all the good things that have come our way, then that will help keep the blues away as well.

Harish Bhat works with the Tata Group. His new novel, “An extreme love of coffee", is now on sale. Two methods he uses to banish the blues are: read a nice book or relish a delicious cup of coffee.


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