Do we really need to work 15 hours a day to achieve success?

I don't remember the last time I worked late nights or even more than 10 hours. My window of productive working hours is from 4 AM till 5 PM in the evening. I work usually 6-8 hours when I have the peak workload and frankly I work 4-5 hours most of the time. Am I working too less? May be. Is it bad thing? May be. Will I be able to achieve a lot more if I put in more hours? I don't think so. I am happy with whatever I doing and that is more important. I look at people these days, mostly working professionals or startup guys and sometimes I feel guilty of not working like them. I want to confess that although I am good in what I do but I don't like working for long hours. I prefer finishing my work as soon as possible and have fun for the remaining day. Now you must be familiar with the non sense logic of love what you do and you will not feel like working. That is stupid. There are trillions of things to do in life and work, you can't possibly love each and every single thing. Things that give you most value or reward may not be interesting, it may be boring also but you still have to do it.

There is nothing wrong in doing things that you don't like. I say start doing those boring things and you would start liking them. Generate interest. I do feel guilty sometimes of not working enough. There are days in the week when I just don't do anything at all and few days I work religiously from 4 AM to 5 PM, but I never really work more than 8 hours.

I like planning things and believe in doing things efficiently. Even if I have to do something beyond my work, like a side project or learning a new skill, I plan it and do it but I never stretch. Everyone works differently and people have differently level of intelligence. I know few people who don't rest until they have a task to do, same is the case with me. When I have a delivery to make, I give my 101% and even more. I think about that task all the time, but I hardly work for long hours. It is not like I can't, I can certainly work without sleep for 3 days, I have done that in the past but when you plan your work really work, you would hardly need to do that.

When I was struggling in my early days of career, I used to freelance in my free time and then after few years I started my company and I struggled a lot, but even in those days I never worked long hours. I planned my week and what work I would do everyday in advance. I tried several tools but keeping a notepad is the best. For instance after company back from job I used to spend at least 2 hours everyday on other projects and on weekends I used to give additional 8 hours. I used to take office cab and I tried my best to utilize my time reading books. Even in the office I didn't make lot of friends. Eating lunch with people, meeting over tea is all great but kills not only time but your energy and most importantly your mind has limited energy every day. If you fill your mind with unnecessary information then you will not feel like working after coming back from office. Try to isolate yourself when you have to achieve something.

These days I am more on a free mode where I don't plan much and I work as things come. I enjoy it. I do work at my own sweet pace but I have earned it by working consistently over the past 15 years. I do give myself few light months of no-plan mode every now and then. It relaxes me. I work on plan-mode from March till August this year and from September onwards I am working quite comfortably. Ask yourself what will you achieve by working 15 hours every day? Unless you are sure that your 15 hours per day will give you lot of money or satisfaction, don't do it. It is not worth it. Instead do other activities like exercises or play some sports. Join some meetup club and go there once a week. Meet regularly with your friends and give time to your family. There is nothing wrong in enjoying life. Work not hard but consistently, that is my rule.

Just finished writing my second book - Mastering JIRA 7 - Second edition and other updates

I just finished writing my second book - Mastering JIRA 7. It will be published in few weeks from now and I can't explain the extreme pleasure I am experiencing right now that I decided to write a blog about it. Well I have not been writing much on my blog for the past few years. I tried to write often but I didn't feel like writing or sharing my feelings. Anyways below is the link to the book. You can pre-order it if you want right now.

My second book is going to be published
I started writing my first book in Sep 2014 and it was published in May 2015. Writing the first book was really tough as it required all the thoughts and ideas to be written from scratch. That book was mainly based on my experience working on JIRA and other Atlassian tools. I was quite involved in the first book that I devoted lot of my energy. Writing a book doesn't really pay you much but having a published book gives a very good image in front of potential clients. I tried writing books earlier. In fact I also have one Drupal kindle version book that I wrote in 2011 and it was again a good experience but when you work with professional publishers you have a team of people proof reading your book both language wise and technically. Also, they help you with formatting the book so it is readable by variety of readers. I really learned a lot about book writing with my first book.

Earlier this year Packt contacted me to write a second book that would be an update of the first one. I knew that first book gave me so much respect in the market and I did not hesitate even for a moment to say yes for the second one as well. Writing the second edition of my first book was relatively easy as I was aware of lot of things but since there are lot of changes in JIRA 7 primarily breaking up JIRA into JIRA Core, JIRA Software and JIRA Service Desk, I had to write new chapters and change the images in almost all the chapters. It was little tough but I was able to do it.

Briefly back to job culture
This year I did a project for one of the bank. They use JIRA heavily and had lot of migration and upgradation work. It was difficult job and they needed someone to work from their office. Since they are a bank, they don't allow remote work. All the work had to be done from their office in Gurgaon. Initially I was not sure if I should take that project or not. Mainly because I was not used to going to office and that too. I have been on my own for several years now but I thought lets give it a try. So I went to their office for 6 months. I used to take their office cab, work with their employees, eat lunch with them and it was nice experiencing office lifestyle after a while plus I got to do some amazing work there.

Last year was tough
Overall last one year was really tough. Life is not simple and it could be really difficult sometimes. I had tough times but I managed to survive and will continue to do so. I think if you have lot of friends and have good social life then troubles in life will not seem big.

Got very active social life
In the past one year I probably drank the most alcohol, mostly with friends. I have fortunate to have very good friends. No matter how hard life hits you, your friends will always support you. I made sure to meet them regularly every week. When you are with friends it helps to forget about big troubles, atleast for a while.

Made some serious career decisions
I would like to say that I made some really big decisions recently related to my career. I will reveal more about it in my upcoming blogs.

I think that is it for now. There are many things to share but you cannot write about everything. In the past one year I think I have grown as a person. I restarted lot of long lost activities like painting and learning guitar. I plan to do something really amazing in the next few months and I hope you will love it too.

Why you should bootstrap your startup

These days everyone is talking about startups and entrepreneurship. It is quite cool to start a company, build a product and get funded. I am writing this blog based on my own experiences that how I am able to run a company successfully for several years and why you too don't need a funding.

So you have decided that you want to start a company, it is a topic of another discussion and I will write more about it but you should always think twice, thrice and ten time before starting a company and you should have solid reasons for that. Now coming back to the topic why you should not take any funding and why you don't even need it in first place. One thing I feel is very important for all the wannabee entrepreneurs is to answer whether they are starting a company to gain something for themselves or to give back something to the community and society as a whole. In my case I had very strong reasons to start something on my own. I never got satisfaction (technical) in any company work wise. Except my last company my managers and colleagues in previous companies were not technically sound as I am and I never really enjoyed working in company of non intelligent/smart people. May be I am little harsh here but this is just the fact for me and I always wanted to do something cutting edge or at least do something were I have control over my work so eventually I know where my effort is going and the money that you earn working for someone is good and decent but there is always a saturation after few years. More than anything else I always wanted to do something on my own. May it is the way you are brought up. Money was never really the concern for me. I was earning decent salary and but I could never give my 101% on my job. For me starting a company was always about myself and personal gains. I never really wanted to do something for the world. I have always been quite selfish person. I do everything for myself. I could not imagine even now how people can spend 12 hours in traveling and working for years and they don't get much in return. They miss out time with their family and they sacrifice major part of their lives. I knew from the very beginning that I will eventually do everything for myself only.

So before you even think about getting funded you should have the reason to start a company very clear because getting funded depends on that reason.

Now why people seek funding. This is my opinion.

1. It is cool to get funded.
2. You will get respect from other after getting funded.
3. You need money to sustain your company.
4. You want to hire more people to work in your company.
5. You will get rich after getting funded.
6. You and your company will get famous

Technically all these seem like valid reason to seek funds but you should keep in mind that someone will give you money in return of control/stake of your company. You will not be free to do whatever you want. You will loose authority over your company.

For a moment lets go back to the reason why you want to start a company and for whom you want to do it and think again about these points above. Getting funded is sometimes really need because you may want to scale up your already running successful business but these days I see people think that will build something after getting funded. I think it is stupid to jump in the funding process with just an idea or prototype. Recently I also came across people who want to be like serial entrepreneurs, they want to start with an idea, develop prototype, launch and seek funding all within a span of few months and if that doesn't work, do everything again with a new idea. I think this is again very stupid. One should spent sometime in the market, at least few years. Nothing really happens in few months. When I met these people I ask them again the reason why they want to start the company in first place and they could not convince myself or even themselves. They just want to look cool.

I realised this a little late in my career that earning money is probably the easiest thing that one can do. If you have the skill then you will find a market for it. I think everyone who is working for someone as an employee and frustrated in life can do something outside their job to earn money and which is again starting a business only but you need a good reason to start a company. It is not like you wake up one day and start a business. Your reason to do something on your own should be very solid. In case you are not happy with your job then you probably need another job.

There is no shortcut
Do you know that I have worked in 10 companies in my career? I changed many jobs until I found the one that was somehow not bad for me and I stayed their for my last 6.5 years. I have been freelancing since my college days. I started taking small projects back in 2002, so when I started my company in 2010, I had already worked in the market for 8 years. I started with Visual Basic projects then Linux consultation and training and then I started doing Excel VBA work before moving to web development. I started working in 2003 and did job for almost 12 years. Starting from 2002 till 2015 for almost 13 years I was working almost 7 days a week, After my job hours, I would work on my projects and I got married, had kid and also managed to live a normal life but it required lot of discipline and extreme hard work. I had very strong reason to work hard continuously for 12 years. I sacrificed a lot, I hardly took family vacations and spent time with my friends but it was all worth it now. I did all this because I just wanted to reach a point where I can easily leave my job. May be in your case you need to give at least 5 years but I do not understand why people expect magic to happen in few months. There are no shortcuts. If you do not have the determination to work hard then you are probably better with your job. I did all this and gained a lot now. At this point of time I am of course generating more revenue, I have regular clients, big clients and we are the best in what we do. It took us 12+ years, so what. If I include my freelancing time then I am in the market for 14 years now. That is a lot of time.

Seeking funds in the very beginning is for losers who don't know what they want in life and they just want to follow others. You should first start a business, start generating revenues and seek funding only when you want to scale up. By the time you are running a company successfully you will probably not worry about getting funds. You will find ways to scale up yourself without external inflow of money. I am by no means highly successful business but being a 6 people company we are making quite an impact in the market, we are one of the most sought after Atlassian consultants in India and whole Asia pacific for that matter. We have been into Drupal development since the beginning and have developed expertise for Non Profit Organizations. All this is done by just 6 people. We do not have a fancy turnover to showcase to other but we are quite content and happy about our work. We are growing steadily revenue wise, client wise and we hire more people only when we really need to, not for the sake of it.

In the past I did have low time and thought of winding up everything and going back to comfortable job but I never could do that, not because I am emotionally attached to the company but because I am used to earning a lot more money in less time now. No job could pay me the money that I am earning now. I worked hard for it and I want to grow more from here now. I live a pretty humble life but I enjoy earning money. It gives me high and I feel good and happy. I may have become greedy but we have developed a skill set and people need us. So why not get the most out of it.

So coming back to the topic that you should think first about the reason to start a company and for whom you are doing it - yourself or for the society. One should take funds only after you are running a successful company but not in the beginning. You will loose the focus right in the very beginning. One should start with the ambition to learn something, one should focus on earning money from the very first year and stay in the market for few years then decide that do you really need more money or not. May be someone will give you money based on just an idea and a stupid prototype but it is like begging someone to support you. Why should you take money from someone when you don't exist anywhere in the market. I think one should stay in the market and run the company for at least 3-5 years before even thinking about getting funds. In Sparxsys we are primarily into services and we have had few successful products in the market, we will probably build more products this year too and based on my experience I don't think I will ever think about seeking funds. There is no fun in it for me. I find it shameful asking someone to give me money and finally one should learn about running a company. You run a company for 5 years and you will learn far more than any graduate from A grad business school.

If you want to get in touch with me to share your experiences then you can write to me at ravi [at] sparxsys [dot] com. May be we can learn from each other.

My top 10 goals for 2016

Ravi JIRA Training in Pune
I am trying lot of different things recently both in personal and professional life. Since last one and a half year I am taking my work not quite seriously. I work only 5 days a week and don't even open my laptop on weekends. This is working quite well for me. I feel much better now as I have less to worry. Working less doesn't mean less business. We are doing pretty good, my company Sparxsys is doing great and I am happy about it. Just that I am not to ambitious these days and I make small achievable targets. My idea is to feel good about whatever little I achieve and not set very high goals.

Last year was not very good health wise, I didn't go to gym regularly and I gained few kilos. This year I have made lot of plans for myself that may require giving up some pleasures but I know in the end it will be all worth it.

My 2016 plans

These are plans for this year. People say you should not share your plans with everyone but I don't know how sharing it with other stop me from achieving them.

1. Read 24 books
I recently purchase a Kindle and that is good enough reason to indulge myself in reading. I have been reading actively for the past few months but I need to speed up and read more books. 2 books per months seems like not difficult to me. I have created a new page to list all the books that I have read.

2. Get 6 pack abs
In past I have managed to built few packs but never really complete 6 packs. This year I have decided that it is now or never. Get back in shape and get at least 6 packs.

3. Less beer
I really like beer, may be I am addicted to it but I don't know why I have it almost everyday. I know it is not good, it adds fat to waist. This year I have decided that I will have it not more than twice a week, less is of course better.

4. Cycle and running twice per week
I own a road bike and recently purchased MTB too. I am planning to get more active on cycling and ride at least twice per week. I haven't been doing any running recently but now thinking of starting running twice per week.

5. Improve my public speaking skills
I do lot of corporate trainings and speaking in front of 50+ people continuously for 2-4 days is quite normal for me. I feel I can improve a lot here, it will no only help me professionally but personally I also want to become better speaker. I feel good when on stage and it give me high. I am thinking of joining Toast Masters club, I went to their session in the recent past and really liked it. Most likely I will join them as a member too.

6. Continue learning French
I joined french classes last year and I really learned a lot, this year I will continue to learn this language and I wish to converse with someone entirely in French this year. I joined one institute called Just French and it is quite good.

7. Learn guitar
I recently dusted off my old guitar and started practicing simple tunes by watching youtube videos but this year I want to learn from some professional. May be I will join some classes.

8. Grow my company
This year I want to scale up a little bit and grow my company. I want to increase my business both money wise and also want to grow my team. We are doing quite good but there should be hunger and desire to do even more. I want to keep that desire alive.

9. Start building a product and launch it
I have always been into service industry and our major company comes from service only but I really wish to build a product this year and launch it.

10. Write another book in 2016
I have to admit that writing a book and getting it published was one of the most satisfying experience in my life. I was quite happy when my book "Mastering JIRA" was published. This year too I plan to write another book. Writing a book is a wonderful way to learn something and also to share it with the world plus it really establishes your credibility in the market.

This is probably not the complete list, I have other things in mind too but these ten items are my top priority goals. All the actions that I take and all my work would be focused to achieve these goals and as you can see most of these are personal goals and some of the goals will help me both personally and professionally. I believe everyone should plan their life with written goals.

JIRA Training in Hyderabad, Chennai, Meeting old friends and traveling with one bag

Yeah I am back to writing blogs, I took a long break and I didn't really feel like writing much. Today I am actually writing during my work hours as I don't feel like working, in fact I am feeling guilty that I am not working but writing blog but that's ok. I have been working consistently hard for the past two months and I deserve to do little things that I like during my work hours :) I promise I will get back to work in 15 minutes.

Past two months were hectic and I was traveling a lot. I went to Hyderabad and made new clients there for JIRA consultancy work and I earlier this month I went to Chennai after several months and this time I liked begin there. May be the weather was surprisingly good. It rained when I landed in Chennai.

JIRA consultancy and training in Chennai

When I woke up and looked outside my hotel window I felt really nice. I spent few days in Chennai and unlike last time I went to different places to dine and enjoyed my time.

These days I am trying to revive contact with my old school and college friends. I realized that being social keeps you happy. I am still trying to organize a get together with my school buddies but over the past few months I met my college buddies after several years and it felt really good.

ASET College friends

Also I am learning new things. Recently I enrolled myself in French classes and I am thinking of understanding Agile methodologies in detail. I train companies on implementing JIRA Agile and over the years I have learned myself both SCRUM and KANBAN techniques. I have had several wonderful opportunities to work with several companies as a JIRA consultant. In the past 2 years my company Sparxsys has successfully implemented JIRA and other Atlassian tool many organizations and I feel really proud and little arrogant in saying that we are probably the best Atlassian consultants in India.

Recently I joined one workshop on Agile where they organized an exercise to build Leave Management System using Agile and I have to admit it was really a good session. I got some references from that workshop and I am thinking of doing some certification course on SCRM now.

Implementing Agile

The guy in the picture (unfortunately I forgot his name) works in HCL and the session he organized was wonderful. I will surely connect with him in near future. In fact many companies ask me to train their employees on SCRUM and it would be good to connect with good Agile trainers in Delhi NCR region.

What else?

I travel a lot these days for trainings and meeting clients for taking down their requirements and I feel really difficult to organize the travel. Book tickets, make hotel/cab arrangements and most importantly packing. I have now decided that I will travel with just one single backpack with everything I need. I am a great fan of Samsonite backpacks and I recently ditched my old Samsonite bag for a new one.

Samsonite Vizair backpack

The black bag on the left is Samsonite Vizair, it is bloody costly bag but it is an investment. I carry this bag to places and it keeps my laptop safe with shockers at the bottom and it has lot of spaces. I miss my old bag which was several nice pockets here and there but that bag sever me well for over 5 years and it started to torn from the edges. Although it still is in proper shape and I will probably use it for fun vacations.

You can buy this bag from Amazon. It is costly but as I said it is like a good investment and I plan to use it for the next 4 to 5 years for sure.

Phew, I am getting tired now after writing so much. Total I posted couple of blogs on my several sites and I feel good. Sometimes you are not sure about life's true purpose, in fact many people don't know what they want to do in life and everything seems out of control for them. I am not sure either as of now but I know for sure that writing is something that I love. Last year when I wrote my first published book "Mastering JIRA" I could not believe that I can really get something published. Now that I already have a book published I am thinking about writing more book in near future. It is like leaving a mark in the world :)

If you want to buy the book then click on the above link. I agree it is a bit costly but you can purchase the Kindle version :)

Have fun and stay happy!

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