the-forgotten-bricks-1198331There’s one thing I have learnt from my days of programming. Not one thing exactly, if I really sit down to count, but this one thing takes the proverbial cake. I was this green, wide-eyed fresher in the mesmerizing world of software development churning out miracles unthinkable only a few years ago. Starting with fundamentals like… how can a person sitting somewhere in the world send a message to someone across the continents with the click of a button… to more sophisticated wonders like… how can a machine exhibit intelligent behavior or conquer new frontiers of cognitive science using artificial neural network… everything seemed to come to life out of a page from Alice in Wonderland.

Then I came across the formula.

You cannot build the whole castle in one go, you lay the bricks – one by one. No matter how complicated the expected outcome is, you work on various parts on the algorithm piecemeal. In its stark simplicity, this is how software creation works: create a flowchart of all possible scenarios of how your system should work, simplify steps, simplify some more, simplify yet again, seriously you cannot oversimplify anything when writing an algorithm, work on each simplified case individually as a block… stitch them all in the end and there… your castle in ready!

This is not to say that you don’t have to know the final picture of your castle in the beginning. On the contrary, the clearer the picture in the beginning, the better it would be. But then… break it down to steps, levels, layers and work on them one by one. That’s the only sane option.

The same goes for life. There are too many problems to be solved at a time, too many dreams to be realized, too many achievements to be made and there’s only you to do it all. Break it down.

One battle at a time.

I know this era is all about multitasking and there are times when we have to multitask. But please remember, there are times when we don’t have to multitask. We don’t have to multitask all the time simply because we can or we think we can/should. There are certain acts that ask for devotion, care and even savoring.

Luckily in life, unlike software, you don’t have to work on all the possible scenarios. In simpler words, you can pick your battles and leave the ones that can be (and/or should be) avoided. I smirked when I read somewhere, “You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to.” You don’t have to accept every challenge thrown at you. It is wise to let some things slide as that will conserve precious energy better utilized at battles you really want to win. So if you are confronted with a choice of proving a point to your husband (so he bloody well gets it!) and working on a project close to your heart, I suggest choosing the latter. There will be plenty of opportunities to get worked up in your life – prove your point where you really have to.

Just know there is a choice.

Another thing I learnt in programming was – you don’t have to do it all alone. Break it down and delegate. Do things you are best at. Let others do things they are best at. Everything said and done, we are tribal by nature and life is a team work.

When I say life is a team work, I mean it, in every sense of the word. Look at our bodies… a collection of various cells. Cells which are different and yet the same fundamentally. They have taken up different functional delegations based on their specializations. One could try to work the whole body all at once, the heart, the liver, the respiratory tract, the brain and so on… or one could do it the smart way, the way God has done… by breaking it down to simplified steps. Every single cell has a function, a purpose that contributes to the highest purpose – of creating a living, functioning individual.

It really seems daunting when you set yourself a goal of participating in a triathlon because it really is daunting. Especially when the only “thon” you have expertise in is sleepathon. Getting all revved up about meditating 2 hours a day will most probably leave you quitting sooner than you began. Start with just getting up early in the morning and see where it goes. Take small, simplified steps.

And yes, ask for help wherever you can!

Okay, let me simplify what I am talking about:

  • Know what you want to create/achieve.
  • Break it down. Simplify.
  • Do it one step at a time, however minuscule.
  • Avoid distracting, unnecessary, lateral tasks to the extent possible. Basically don’t lose sight of your goal.
  • Delegate what is best delegated.

Trust me, not a single mail would have reached anywhere if one person had tried to do it all at once, all alone!

(Published in We Are The City)
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Dinakshi is a curious explorer of life, and loves to see everything around her with a sense of wonder. Completely in awe of life and its ardent student, she is a writer, poet, blogger and ex-editor. Her superpower is involuntarily read and edit everything from text messages to poetry on the backside of trucks. Like any other Indian worth their salt, she’s done her time in the IT industry as a programmer. Books and journals have been her best friends for as long as she can remember. A philosopher at heart, she loves to question everything, including her propensity to question. An avid learner and unlearner, she is on a joyful path to live all that is.