“When I run after what I think I want,
my days are a furnace of distress and anxiety;
If I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me,
and without any pain.
From this I understand that what I want also wants me
is looking for me and attracting me.
There is a great secret in this for anyone who can grasp it.”

  • Rumi. 

Rumi’s poem has a profound meaning. My favorite author of Alchemist fame, Paolo Coelho, has a quote in that same book, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  Our goals with a higher purpose have a magnetic power to attract them towards us effortlessly! 

My sincerest gratitude to all friends who have written me words of appreciation for my earlier blogs. Many asked me to teach Time management techniques. As Sadhguru aptly observed, “Guru” is one of the most abused four-letter words. I really don’t want to be a Guru. Let me share how to manage my time with my own life’s experiments. 

Success is directly proportional to efficient time management. When we master our minutes and we enhance our productivity. Time management and success go hand-in-hand. I personally experienced this phenomenon when I wanted to learn about Endoscopic skull base surgery (ESBS).    

Around Circa 2008, I was looking for new avenues. The ESBS was the new thing. Unfortunately, neither we had a neurosurgeon nor an ICU with an intensivist in my city. Nevertheless, learning ESBS became my new goal. As if it is magic, I received an email about an ESBS cadaver dissection course at Niece, France. I immediately registered for it, where I had an opportunity to be guided by Prof. Ricardo Carrau, a great human being and a versatile surgeon. As if like a coincidence, I met my Neuro Chief in a clinical meeting, who invited me to join his team. His corporate hospital offered me a Senior consultancy position, and soon I was in the group of some of the best Neurosurgeons. My CA told me that my new goalpost would be financially suicidal. I still took that bite. The experience I gained from working in a corporate hospital for nearly four years was worth more than I lost. 

Later, I traveled to Bangalore twice a week for another four years to be part of the ESBS team. That was the peak time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s dream project Diamond and Golden Quadrangle roads. Sometimes it used to take 5 -6 hours of commute 200 km as construction was going on the entire stretch of the project simultaneously. Many times it was frustrating to wait in the long traffic jams. However, I applied the E + R = O equation and changed my response. I appointed a good driver. I made my car a mobile library. As soon as I got into the car, I would put on my seat belt, stabilize my head with a neck pillow, and immerse myself in my iPad.

I read hundreds of books on diverse subjects. Besides Otorhinolaryngology, I read books on non-fiction, personal management, biographies, and engineering. I reviewed thousands of scientific articles. When it became too straining to eyes, I would listen to Audiobooks or soothing music. But I never complained. And I never gave up. I devoured knowledge of anything and everything which attracted my attention. To avoid delays, I always started 2 hours before. I was on time for surgeries during the entire four years, and there is not even a single instance of my delay. Now when we were under lockdown for nearly six months due to Covid-19, this non-medical knowledge earned a livelihood for myself and my 32 staff members of the hospital and their families. We also contributed a substantial amount of GST to support our Government when the GDP was nose-diving.      

My morning wake-up time for a very long-time is 4 am and the first 2 – 3 hours of the day are dedicated to non-negotiable objectives such as exercise, meditation, and personal growth. I don’t have to emphasize family time. Family time was a huge issue for me with my crazy traveling and operating schedule. One of my senior friends had a dedicated family day, and on that day, he would spend his entire day with his family. I couldn’t do even that! One of the ways I have solved this issue is by making my family members part of my vision, mission, and values. Since then, it appears to me that I am always with them and I am also working on my pet projects. “When you have shared dreams, you create more synapses, synchrony, and synergy! Soon you will find your family life to be a symphony! In management lingo, 4-S phenomenon!

For more than 20 years, I slept only 4-5 hours a day on the misconstrued premise that sleep quality is more important than the quantity. And I have paid a heavy price for that. According to Tom Rath, the author of the popular book Eat, Love, Sleep, “Ninety minutes of less sleep than you need equates to a one-third drop in cognition. Hence, for personal mastery, adequate sleep is a must.       

Direct and indirect positive impact exercises and learning have been established by a study done at the University of British Columbia. The researchers have found that regular exercises, irrespective of the type, enhance the hippocampus’s size, handling verbal memory learning. Most Indian doctors known to me have a healthy exercise habit. I use my exercise time to listen to my favorite non-fiction audiobooks. Exercise and education go hand-in-hand. I have failed multiple times with my weight reducing or waist-trimming goals. Hence, I have re-phrased it to “Gain enough strength to operate for a long period of life!” And that has helped me!

I believe in the adage, “Eyes cannot see what mind doesn’t know.” Vast theoretical knowledge is a must to master the nuances of any surgical field. I have a dedicated daily non-negotiable growth time that has helped me regularly update my knowledge and learn new things. The regular reading habit has also helped me acquire a speed reading capability, which helps us gather a large amount of knowledge quickly.    

I believe in rituals. Rituals create a purpose. The purpose automatically enhances our performance. However, earlier I didn’t want to sound like an orthodox person. I used to call it a success ritual. It was my surefire formula to bust my stress, keep me healthy, learn anything new easily, master any surgery quickly, and get whatever I aspired. This success ritual has eight components to address eight different aspects of our lives. As it contains eight elements to activate eight different aspects of our lives, I call it Octa-vation. But, now I have come to terms with the ancient tradition and accepted it as a form of fusion meditation! I firmly say meditation is a vaccine against failures in all aspects of your lives, hence I also call it succination! Now, there are more than 16,000 scientific research studies on the benefits of meditation. Meditation is more being spiritual than religion. Meditation has no binding to any specific religion or sect. People with any religious beliefs, including atheists, can practice meditation. Meditation helps to set our day in order. Day becomes weeks. Weeks become months, and months become years. My daily Octavation schedule is 05.00 am Indian time (+5.30 GMT) and lasts for 30 – 40 minutes. If any friends are interested in Octavating themselves, can join me online! Write to me if interested and get connected to this life-line!      

One area which can consume a lot of our Time is Surgical Time. I did a time-audit of commonly performed surgeries and reduced surgical time as much as possible. In my OT, with my staff, and when I am not teaching, I can perform a Tympanoplasty with canaloplasty and cortical mastoidectomy, skin-to-skin in less than 30 minutes!   

Hereby I am bringing my success principles through my webinar on “Time management in Middle Ear and Mastoid surgeries” on October 18, 2020, at 08.00 pm, Indian time (+5.30 GMT).  

ZOOM ID: 994 031 2004
PASSCODE: 686868

Please join me and save your precious time!

With regards, 

Dr. Prahlada N.B