I believe there is a lot of constructed chaos in the world. If you narrow the definition of world down to something like a company or a diverse group of people trying to work together, my conviction in the first statement increases.

Constructed chaos leads to stress and sub-optimal output. Specially when your expectations have gone beyond the limits of what you can do in a short span, say 20 minutes, of time.

In this document I will be developing an idea of what chaos and calmness means to me, why it's important for my personal productivity and notes on grounded steps that work well for me to achieve calmness. You should expect the document to change for a while.

1. How to be Calm?

Here are things that I have tried and highly recommend. These should be grouped in some form but I will just dump them in a plain list to start with:

  1. Stop interruptions. Silence as many notifications as possible. Only keep rings for calls, and not messages, on phone. Basic but extremely important.
  2. Understand and manage Higher modality channels. It's extremely easy to have higher bias for systems with higher modalities. I have seen phone calls raising priority of a task to a much higher value than what they need to be. Set expectations around them, set up process for reviewing tasks before committing or even processing them.
  3. Start with a Blank Slate. Most of the times I have found stress build up as the number of browser tabs increase. It's better to start afresh and re-prioritize what's important yourself rather than let recency drive it. I keep browsers to start empty whenever I open them rather than restore any past session.
  4. Go Analog wherever you can. Analog systems like physical alarms, notebooks, etc. are limiting, which makes you use them more purposefully and deliberately.

Additionally, I feel the following things are less stressful when done in person:

  1. Meetings that are going to be emotionally charged. For example with people who differ with you in how they work or think.
  2. Following from the above point, workflows like incident management are better when people are around so that the focus stays on the problem and not on superficial things like who was wrong.