Pocock & Shaw Estate Agents


Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2020

You will spend a lot of time at home in the coming days through lockdown and extended Work-From-Home (WFH) while the virus battle rages. Use this opportunity to invest in life-changing skills to forever accelerate...


You will spend a lot of time at home in the coming days through lockdown and extended Work-From-Home (WFH) while the virus battle rages. Use this opportunity to invest in life-changing skills to forever accelerate growth. Here are eight skills to invest in —two each from learning, execution, communication and mental leverage. 

Learning speed

Learning to learn is the foremost skill. It accelerates growth in your career, wealth, health, personality and time efficiency. To learn fast, leverage the working of your brain. Use chunking or breaking down information into small pieces, which can be retained by your short-term memory. To chunk, organise information into subjects, modules and sub-topics. Spend no more than 30 minutes in focused, undisturbed learning at a time. This makes it manageable and gives your mind rest thereafter, thus improving retention. Finally, shift learning from short-term memory to long-term recall by summarising what you learnt, asking yourself questions on the topic and practising problem solving.

Speed reading

A reading novice has a reading speed of about 200 words per minute while a master averages 2,000 words. Speed-reading is a skill you can learn and dramatically reduce the time you spend on reading emails, work material and learning topics. The three main concepts are pointing, jumping and chunking. Firstly, sweep your finger across a line as you read by focusing on the tip of your finger. Increase speed over pages even though comprehension may be low initially. Pointing focuses attention and prevents back tracking. Secondly, move your eyes from one 4 to 8-word block to another, training your eyes to read in jumps. Finally, move your finger down the centre of a page slowly, capturing each line as one chunk of information, increasing your peripheral vision. You can use a speed-reading app. 

Action skill

While the first two skills dealt with absorbing information, they are useless unless you apply your learning. To overcome procrastination, put down an execution plan with deadlines in your calendar. Planning and goal setting increase mental engagement with the learning. Noting and executing as per your calendar ensures action without having to remember commitments. 

Behaviour change

To make all round progress, act on multiple skills simultaneously. This will be exhausting when you expend some willpower to execute each task in a day. To avoid taxing your willpower, incorporate these activities as habits into your daily routine. So, if you go for a jog everyday at the same time, it is no more a decision to be taken. Now to convert an activity into a routine, use the motivation from the power of accountability. Thus, involve another person for going jogging together. Since you are accountable, you will soon slip into the routine of a daily run. 


WFH is the best time to improve a key professional skill—verbal communication. With online meetings becoming the default mode, most of your on-to-one discussions are now being done in the presence of the entire team either on call or video. Recognise it as a public speaking opportunity and target how you can improve this skill. First, pre-plan your communication—what you want to convey, in how much time and how you will say it for quick acceptance. Second, watch your tone, the reactions you get and experiment with words for greater impact. 


The other equally important professional skill is written communication. WFH has also increased the flow of emails. To improve writing and the art of written storytelling, start by publishing 250-500 words per day in a blog or a forum. You will struggle initially to find a subject or topic. As you continue for 3-4 weeks you will discover new structures, language and a style of your own. Thereafter with feedback from readers, you will develop a strong story-telling technique which will serve you well. 

Meditation or focus power

Don’t dismiss meditation as a spiritual gimmick. It is a powerful mental tool that increases your focus and output in tasks, enhances quality of decision making and increases productivity through efficient task switching. Start by as low as 10 minutes a day and move up to 30 minutes but do it daily to see results in 2-3 weeks. You can use any meditation app or simply close your eyes and focus on the tip of your nose, mentally observing each breath going in and coming out. The biggest short-term impact is a drop in stress levels. 

Reducing ANT

ANT or Automatic Negative Thoughts are random negative thoughts about yourself that cross your mind multiple times a day. These contribute to stress, social anxiety and even depression, thus reducing happiness and effectiveness. Avoidance and confrontation are two techniques you can practice right away. Being fully occupied in the current moment or mindfulness practice leaves no space for ANT. In the opposite technique, pause whenever you have a negative thought, question it and reframe it positively to break its flow and to reclaim your life. 


Source: Economic Times