HR Tech

Mastering Your Personal Productivity

Written by Shyvee Shi on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

As a product manager working in tech, I constantly face the challenge of operating at a high-capacity, managing multiple projects, clearing roadblocks, running back-to-back meetings, and building long-term strategies while living a healthy and joyful life. Staying productive is critical to career and life success.

Many people in my network ask me, “How do you stay productive?  How do you have it all?” While there’s no one-size-fits-all some answers can be found below :

01. Mindsets

“Everything begins inside your mind. With the right mindset, you will succeed.” — Tony Horton

I start with defining what personal productivity is and things to be mindful of when it comes to being and staying productive. 

1️⃣ Productivity is quality of life. It is NOT about doing more and staying busy. It’s about achieving more with less. 

2️⃣ Productivity is to manage time. Timebox your tasks and don’t let work expand to fill your time. 

3️⃣ Productivity is a constant rebalancing exercise. Being productive might look different each day.

4️⃣ Productivity is about making intentional choices. Commit to what works for YOU and make peace with letting go of the rest. 

02. Principles

“I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy.” — Elon Musk

What are the fundamental truths of personal productivity? How may you apply first principle thinking to staying productive? 

1️⃣ Be intentional. It’s not about ‘what can I accomplish?’ but ‘what do I want to accomplish?’

2️⃣ Focus. Focus. Focus. Good things happen when you narrow your focus.

3️⃣ Action > Perfection. Making progress is more “productive” than being perfect.

4️⃣ Iterate. Finding your productivity system is an iterative process. Try different things and see what works best for you. 

5️⃣ Create leverage. Find high-leverage activities that will produce outsized results. Make 1 decision to save 1,000 decisions.

03. Systems

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” — Paul J. Meyer

You don’t have to wake up at 4:30am everyday to be productive. Productivity is a lifelong commitment to finding what works for you. There is no universally perfect productivity system; you must be willing to experiment and get ready to mix and match different systems!

1️⃣ Have a system to capture and organize information as it comes in. Capture everything and then organize it – task backlogs, project trackers, intentions list, daily to-dos. Do what works for you.

2️⃣ Use the 2×2 Eisenhower Matrix to decide if you should do, delete, delegate, or defer a task. 

3️⃣ Learn to manage your day based on your energy chart and your bio clock, not just the clock on the wall.

4️⃣ Make rest and recharge part of your productivity system. The best way to stay productive involves stopping along the way.

04. Tactics

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” — Walt Disney

Below we shared a set of productivity tactics that have worked well for us. There are hundreds more out there, and you will need to find out what works for you through trial and error. 

1️⃣ Block time on your calendar for your to-dos. This not only brings clarity to WHAT to do, but also to WHEN to do it.

2️⃣ Audit your time to be more aware of whether how you spend your time aligns with what you value in life. Bundle this with a weekly reflection to set intention for the following week.

3️⃣ Learn to set boundaries and say a clear no without feeling guilty.

4️⃣ Apply the Yes! No. Yes? Model to articulate what we want, protect what we value, and stand up for everything and everyone that matters to us.

5️⃣ Maintain a Not-To-Do list to stay focused and avoid falling into the “completion urge” trap.

6️⃣ Batch process your emails and Slack messages to reduce “switching costs” and take control of your schedule. 

 7️⃣ Invest time in delegating and shift your thinking from “how and what” to “why, when, and who” to empower others to learn and grow.

8️⃣ Decide if a synchronous meeting is needed and how to run productive meetings with a clear sense of purpose and closure.

To conclude, being productive may look different each day. Be intentional about how you spend your time and continuously improve your systems and tactics to find what works for you! 

If you want to learn more about how to apply these concepts, here is a link to my latest course

I look forward to hearing from you and wishing you luck in mastering your personal productivity!

Edu Tech

AI for Inclusive Education Personalized Learning systems

Written by Dr. Sandeep Bansal on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Everyone knows that different individuals possess different capabilities, comprehension abilities, problem-solving skills, and hence the learning needs vary across the students of a class with their varying interests, abilities, performance, pre-requisite knowledge, etc.

In order to address such needs, the adaptive/Personalized learning/teaching systems are being worked upon with the involvement of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning etc. These systems provide different learning paths with different paces to different learners based on their needs & performance but they use the same study material for all the learners; though it may be delivered to them at a different pace depending on their needs and performance; while the learners need study material as per their need, capabilities for the same topic. This gives a rise to the need of not only developing different study materials varying with variations in different parameters but developing the machine learning models also which would take care of not only the learning needs being dealt with by today’s system but other needs being discussed further here.  

Countries like India have lots of diversities with respect to language, culture, regions, etc. Such learning systems can play a key role to bring inclusivity in education as we note:  

  • Learners with physical disabilities (Divyang Jan): In India, around 1% of school-going children are children with physical disabilities and need transformation of e-content.
  • Learners with learning disabilities: In India around 5% of the school going children are affected with learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia etc.. Each type of disorder may coexist with another). In such cases also the study material needs transformation.
  • Learners with different socio-cultural identities, socio economic & geographical identities with the needs of study material in different languages, dialect & culture.

The fundamental principles of  NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY (2020) of Indian Government include –

  • recognizing, identifying, and fostering the unique capabilities of each student
  • focus on regular formative assessment for learning
  • extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers,
  • increasing access for Divyang students, and educational planning and management

Therefore the role of AI based adaptive system delivering the right content at the right time to the learners in personalized manner has a very important role to play. The machine learning models need training data also for their adaption to the different learner’s need with regard to their learning attributes (like some emerging system) & varying needs of different content for the same topic (not common & to be evolved). How it all would work may be understood with a simple architecture of the whole system. The basic building blocks including the content would be as follows:

  1. Artificial Intelligence-based Decision System: This would be the core of the whole system to interface with the front-end i.e. learner’s interface, with the learner’s repository where the learner’s attributes would be stored and with the content repository where the content of different languages, formats, and levels to choose from for the learners would be stored.
  • Learner Interface: It provides the test material to the learners and based on performance captures different attributes of the learners e.g. learning disabilities, problem-solving skills, comprehension abilities, misconceptions, gaps in prerequisite knowledge which are then sent to the “Learner’s Repository” module. The whole process is controlled by the core AI-based Decision system. The interface may be equipped with conversational AI (powered by Natural Language Processing, Speech recognition to interpret the intent of the user and providing smooth interaction with the system) in his/her language.
  1. Content Repository: Different type of content e.g. Content for physical disabilities, Content for learning disabilities (the content of different levels of explanation with a provision of need-based detailing of basics & prerequisites involved in the concept to enable the learner to drill down), The content to address the needs of study material in different languages, dialect & culture etc.
  • Learner’s module: The attributes of the learners captured by the AI system through the learner’s interface would be stored in this repository consisting of attributes of different learners with their respective learning attributes and learning paths to be followed by them.

Learning Path (sub module of learner’s module): To decide on the appropriate learning path for the learner, the system first evaluates the learners with respect to different attributes, different learning issues etc.. For example a learner first needs to understand the concepts of Motion to understand “Simple Harmonic Motion”, then waves, then Light’s concepts, then concepts of reflection & refraction and so on. During assessment of the learner, if it is found by the AI system that the learner is lacking somewhere, the system would advise the learner to go back to the basics.

Content Selection by the Decision system: The content selection logic of the system would take care of the content selection at all stages from the content repository based on different attributes & need of the learners. Based on various factors of the learner’s as summarised below, the AI based system would choose the appropriate content for the learner.

For the proposed system the availability of content for training the models & e-content for the learners in different formats is a bigger challenge. The initiatives of the Government of India e.g. Natural Language Technology Missions (targeting content in Indian languages), guidelines, policies for e-content development (including those for children with special needs) by Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment would play a key role to make such content available. As an outcome a lot of content is expected to be made available in different languages & formats which may be used for such solutions.

HR Tech

Modern Learner & the Organisation

Written by Anupama Lal on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

The emerging context –

Employees certainly consider learning to be an integral part of the value proposition organisations can offer. They want to build portable skills that will be useful for them, not only in the flow of work currently, but which will also add to their profile for future opportunities. They want employers to be secure in the knowledge that investments made in their skill development will benefit the organization here and now and an another organization later. At the same time, they want learning to be a social experience – fun and engaging.

Employers also want to quickly and effectively upskill and reskill their workforce to meet the requirements of this VUCA world. They want to be able to assess current skills levels and build a capability map for skills required in the future, given how quickly skills are becoming obsolete.

Readiness gap –

Are organisations ready to tackle these emerging trends? More than 50% organisations believe their learning approach is not positioned to meet future work needs. Scrap learning (the gap between training that is delivered but not applied on the job) ranges from 45% to 80%. Learner engagement scores continue to pose a challenge – infact with the pandemic, learner engagement using virtual platforms has seen mixed responses – while it has helped build scale, it has not been the best way to nurture skills.

The role of technology –

Technology is a key enabler in helping create an agile and adaptable learning experience.  In the past, deploying learning technology meant setting up an LMS. Now, most organizations have a bouquet of technologies that include next generations, Learning Management Systems (LMS), Learning Experience Platforms (LXP), Learning Content Management Systems (LCMs), Learning Record Systems (LRS), microlearning platforms, simulation tools, and more. The pandemic accelerated action with more than 45% companies making investments in new learning technology.

However, organisations need to be cautious of what they invest in and why? Often, investments are made in the new and shiny in demand products and platforms, but little thought is given to how these platforms will interact with one another to create a seamless experience for learners and all other stakeholders. Research suggests that many organisations are still shy in making the right investments in learning technology or under use the platforms that have been bought e.g. about one third learners say their learning system can curate content and just under half say the system provides opportunities for coaching and mentoring. Further, organisations and learning teams do not have mechanisms to source learning data that will help understand skill gaps and map future needs of the organisation.

What next –

To address the emerging needs of learners and organisations, it is time to get effective in bringing technology, data, and brain science together to ensure the learning eco-system is well-integrated while keeping learners at the center. These are what are called ‘Adaptive Learning Systems’. Using AI, learning products and platforms should be talking to one another and creating a personalized learning road map for each learner. Taking a leaf out of modern-day marketing and consumer behaviour patterns, learning teams and systems should be immersed in data on how learners are behaving, what do they like and learn. It is important that the system speaks to the learner directly, links them to others who are learning about similar topics. The future of skill development is anchored in studying the learner closely and helping them create a personalized approach to career development. This can happen only with the right technology investments and keeping learners and stakeholders at the center to collaborate with one another.