How Useful Is A Not-To-Do List?

To be or not to be that is the question but to do, or not to do, is also a question which needs our attention. We have all come across articles and blogs telling us about to-do lists, where we prioritise, plan and mark the task from urgent to not so urgent. If you have a habit of maintaining a to-do list, you probably know the wonderful feeling you get when you put a tick-mark on an accomplished task. To-do lists have their place. But did you know, not-to-do lists could be equally helpful?

Many experts on strategy and planning often talk of a ‘negative’ list’; a list that tells us what should be avoided. Think about it. Sometimes, we might not be sure what we want to do but we are pretty sure about the kind of situation we would like to avoid. For example, we often hear ourselves saying things like:

  • ‘Do not forget to call that client today.’
  • ‘Do not to bring up an issue that doesn’t add to the agenda of this meeting’
  • ‘Do not forget to double check the data.’

Sometimes, clear and specific not-to-do list can lead to a better understanding of the need of the moment, rather than a vague to-do list.

For the sake of examples though, let us take a look at some more general and universal tasks which could be added in the not-to-do list. Doing those tasks have known to make people regret some of their decisions in life.

Do Not be Worried What Others Might Think:

Sounds so simple, right? But have we all not worried at some point what others might say about our decisions and choices? Have we not been scared of what people might think of us?

Simply keeping in mind to not worry about other people’s (often unsolicited) opinions could potentially help us make decisions which are about us, and not others.

Do Not be Scared to Take Risks:

We all have thought of certain things we want to do, and have backed away at the last moment only to look back years later, and thought that maybe  we should have taken that risk because that was the time. It doesn’t matter whether you look back at your twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or even sixty year old self. There is no age when we haven’t looked back and regretted some of our decisions.

It is important we add this to our not-to-do list to be completely free from all the what ifs and buts.

Do Not Drag On a Bad Job For too Long:

It is important to not run away from a momentarily tough situation. We have talked of strategic quitting in the past. A temporary situation is not a good enough reason to quit.

But it is equally important to not drag on a job that is holding you back from achieving your long term plans and dreams. It is necessary we add this to our not-to-do list so we don’t end up feeling like we wasted our potential.

Do Not Save the Expression ‘For Later’:

Haven’t we all had to face a situation where we needed people to be there for us? Whether it is a difficult family crisis, or a professional crisis, expressing empathy, kindness, offering a few healing words, taking actions which we know will help the other person to cope should not be saved for later, for the ‘right time.’

Haven’t we had loved ones suddenly depart, and felt we should have mended that relation before it was too late? Why push mending something broken to ‘later’ when it can be mended ‘now’?

Keeping this in our not-to-do list will ensure we know there is no ‘wrong time’ to express kindness in actions and words.

Do Not Think It’s Too Late to Pursue Higher Studies:

Learning, knowledge, study have no age bar. If circumstances made you give up on studies, temporarily, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on them permanently.

It is necessary we don’t let socially constructed conventions about age hinder us from pursuing anything which could add to our skill- and knowledge- set, helping us grow as a professional, or simply something which could help us grow as a person.

It is important we add this to our not-to-do list, so we remember to never stop learning.

These are just a few examples of a not-to-do list. You could make your own specific ones, or just keep a general list to help you steer clear of some preconceived and outdated notions. Either way, it is not always wrong to think in terms of ‘negatives’. Sometimes, the negative is in fact a positive!

And finally, the most important item to add to any not-to-do list these days:-

Do not be casual while taking precautions in the ‘new normal’!

 Do not take the safety directives lightly. Do not venture out without wearing a mask, do not be lazy about washing your hands, do not take the social distancing rules lightly, do not forget to sanitise the goods you buy, and do not be afraid to put your health first. Adding all this to our not-do-list will ensure we realise our responsibilities.

Professional Lessons to learn from Diwali Festivities

Diwali image 1


As many of us know, Diwali is not just about a day. The festivities and the rituals begin right from Dhanteras, and go on for days till Bhai Dooj.

Now, here are some professional lessons to be learnt from the five days. Don’t worry, we are not asking you to work during the holiday season, but the following lessons can always be implemented after you come refreshed from a Diwali break.


This day, the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month Kartik, is associated with cleansing and purchasing.

The day gives us lessons about the importance of getting rid of chaos and old clutter , and thus make space for order, novelty and freshness.

In the office space, it is similarly necessary to get rid of old, obsolete technology, and be up to date with the emerging trends. Plus, it is a great idea to keep the work station clean, tidy and ordered. There is known to be a positive correlation between work efficiency and a well-lithygienicpeaceful work environment with minimal disturbances.


 Chhoti Diwali:

The fourteenth day of the fortnight is associated with preparation of sweets using various ingredients like flour, semolina, dry fruits, milk solids, etc.

Remember how the various sweets are not simply “sweet”, but the taste of the main ingredient always lingers? Be it milk, cashews, almonds, pistachios, there is an instant recognition.

It would do us good if we keep this in mind: it is necessary to retain one’s essence to gain recognition.

For example, an HR manager of any company, would much prefer a candidate who is honest  and transparent as opposed to someone who is showy (flamboyant) and ingratiating.

Sooner or later, the inner qualities of that candidate would be recognised, like the main ingredient of the “sweet.”



Here comes the festival of lights! There is sound, there is colour, there are feasts, there are Pujas performed, there is celebration everywhere! The young people visit and take blessing from the elders. Oh, and there are diyas, rangolis!

In the professional lingo, this teaches us the importance of good networkingbonding, the importance of mentors. It tells a lot about the power of one small diya. About the power of one single colour to add that missing touch in a rangoli. Sometimes, a rangoli remains incomplete without that one colour. Team work is the Key.

A line of diyas has the capability to light up an entire place. Collaboration, not competition is the way to go.


Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj:

Govardhan Puja is celebrated to mark the feat of Shri Krishna when he lifted up a mountain to save cowherds and farmers from incessant rains. Some regions celebrate this day as a New Year, and some as the Annakut, literally mountain of sweets. Some celebrate the bond between husband and wife.

Bhai Dooj celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, here, the sister acting as a protector of the brother.

Anyhow, the two days teach us a lot about the importance of being supportive to our colleagues, especially in the time of crisis.

Taking responsibility, having empathy, handling interpersonal relationships effectively are some of the lessons we can take with us. It tells us about the importance to have Emotional Intelligence. In short, the importance of taking leadership in little things.

Emotional Intelligence could be used in handling meetings, negative feedback or appraisal, client relations, empowering your colleagues, etc.

Diwali festivities not only give us good times, but good lessons which could be applied in a professional setting.

Delving into meanings of festivals and traditions, could help us a great deal to understand the values and their timelessness.

Happy Diwali!


What is your Learning Style?

Learning Styles image


Cause for Friction:

There are times when no matter how close attention you pay, the information just doesn’t get registered.

Sometimes, it tires you to no limit as you try to explain something to a colleague or friend but they just don’t seem to be getting what you are saying. How much more simply could I sum up this, you wonder.

Meetings end in confusion, presentations are deemed having no impact.

You wonder, at times why people can’t even grasp some basic concepts.

It could be that there is a difference of learning styles.

Learning is not limited to school days. Training for a particular job, learning about the inside workings of an industry, learning about some new model of work that is going to be integrated in what you did until now: there are countless examples in our professional lives where you either need to learn or need to impart some knowledge to others.

It is important to have an understanding of the various learning styles:

  • To increase efficiency.
  • To save time and energy.
  • To learn better.
  • To teach or train better.


The Learning Styles:

The model of learning styles first devised by Dr. Richard Felder, Linda Silverman and Barbara Soloman during the late 1980s is one of the most widely used and comprehensive classifications out there. It was updated in 2002.

According to this, there are four dimensions to learning styles. Each dimension has two poles with a continuum in the space in between.

Sensory: Sensory learners look at everything concrete. They are concerned about hard facts and things which could be substantiated.

Intuitive: Intuitive learners look for meaning. Their eyes are open to theory. They process in terms of concepts.

Visual: Visual learners, as the name suggests, process in terms of visual representations. Graphs, diagrams, charts, pictures grab their attention.

Verbal: They explain/need explanation through words. Hearing, listening to, reading information is how they process it.

Active: Active learners like to manipulate objects, experiment, go for trial and error to figure things out. They work well with groups.

Reflective: They think, contemplate, evaluate, analyse. They figure out things by themselves.

Sequential: Sequential learns look for the building blocks to a big picture. They prefer to have information in a linear, orderly manner.

Global: They look at the big picture and then fill in the details. Their approach is much more holistic.


Being Aware Where You Lie on the Spectrum:   

It is important to be aware about one’s learning style so that one knows what they might be missing.

For example, a sequential learner might miss out on the big picture at times, and on the other extreme, a global learner might miss out on the smaller details.

Or, it might take an intuitive learner more time to understand the importance of facts which are needed to substantiate any theory. A sensory learner might underestimate the importance of conceptual clarity.

Visual learners might have trouble “reading” data that has not been presented in graphs and diagrams. Verbal learners might have a tough time handling audio visual learning where they can’t “read” anything.

Reflective learners could take a cue from active learners and focus on decision making rather than just poring over the available details. Active learners could learn some patience and learn to look (closely) before leaping.

Thus, as obvious as it sounds, it is important to strike a balance in terms of the aforementioned dimensions.

Whether you are the learner or the one imparting, it is necessary to identify your learning style, whether it’s a combination of many styles, where you lie in the continuum, what could be missing from your approach and what is the best thing about your approach, and try to understand the same about the person/group you are to learn from/ explain/train.


Degrees Of Knowledge


That is the question.
That is the question.


There was a time when a degree was the most important thing in the world. The image was common: a newly graduated student, dressed up in freshly-ironed formals, sitting in a line of similar-looking youngsters outside the cabin of the boss, as the receptionist called them out, telling them it was their turn for the interview. Hundreds of Hindi movies must have these kind of scenes.

However, voices in the present environment point to something else. Increasingly, the narrative that is most widely heard is that a degree is not important anymore. Your skills matter. Your knowledge matters. Your experience matters.

One website goes on to take a look at the mindsets of people in India, and how much importance they give to a degree. Accordingly, in the 1980s, “Bachelor’s degree felt like a God-like paper.” Cue the interview scenes mentioned in the opening of this article. Then came the 90s, and apparently, “the Bachelor’s degree lost its charm and you needed a Master’s degree to be recognised.” The 2000s saw the importance of degree sharing its space with “experience and pay-scale.” 2016 onwards, in the current scenario, “college degrees are barely considered when it comes to job and career opportunities.”

This is true in a way. All of us have heard about famous people who dropped out of prestigious institutions, and went on to become extremely successful. In fact, these people and their lives are often used as testimonials to the narrative: you don’t need a degree to be successful.
Forget about these famous examples, many of us know people, within our close circles who have made their lives well, and they don’t happen to possess a degree.

There is another scenario that is getting increasingly common: people who do jobs which are completely different from the subject they hold their degrees in. Engineers becoming film-makers, businessmen and -women, writers is not a shocking story. Or perhaps not pursuing a Master’s in the subject you did your Bachelor’s in is no big deal. So many people around us have done it.

All this leads us to a question which might actually be called a FAQ- a frequently asked question- is a degree important now?
And the answer, contrary to the popular narrative is not a simple YES or NO. In fact, the dreaded two words could be considered an answer: it depends.

Let us think about it.
Why are we starting to believe there will always be a disconnection between one’s degree and one’s skills and knowledge?
Can a person who has a Commerce degree suddenly get a job as an Architect?
Even if the person has a deep interest in the subject, and has studied a lot about Architecture in his free time, would he be able to match the level of an A-grade student of Architecture who has put in time and efforts in the degree? Many colleges and universities have made internships mandatory or at least they are encouraged so that one doesn’t fall behind in the experience aspect.

A person with a BSc in Microbiology might be very well-read and interested in Theoretical Physics. But does that mean she can simply become a Professor of Theoretical Physics based just on her interest as opposed to a person who possesses multiple degrees on the subject?

A graduate in English might be able to teach basic level Computers in primary schools. Should he teach at a college level, is the question.

The debate about the importance of a degree should not be reduced to simplistic answers.

Some ‘shifts’ or choices of professions are relatively easy. This might come across as a little unfair but it is something to think about. Avenues of writing, marketing, the fine arts, entrepreneurship require innate skills, or at the very least some sort of training. But you could train for them on your own. There are online and offline courses offered, books available. And you just need a portfolio in some cases to prove that you are indeed good at it, even though you might not hold an official degree in the subject.
Sometimes, the candidates are provided training by the company they will be working at.

There are countless scenarios in accordance to the profession one decides to go for.

One thing clear from all of this is that you need skills and education. Degree or no degree is a complex issue. Famous college dropouts like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, the late Steve Jobs did have a very deep understanding of what they excelled at. They were “educated” in a way a degree could not do it. How many of us have that vision and courage? More importantly, how many of us have that drive and self-motivation or the resources to be educated, with or without the pressure of a degree?

It is important to have a plan if you do decide to not go for a degree-based education. Skills and knowledge are important. The question is in what way the degree or the absence of it would or would not contribute.

Lives Of Happy Candidates: Mr. Nagaraja K R

A good environment is a prerequisite to personal and professional growth. Be it the workplace, the city/town one lives in, or the kind of work one does, it is necessary that they all contribute to the well-being and success of the individual. We make sure that our candidates get such an experience that helps them look beyond the preconceived prejudices and biases about places and people.


We, at United HR Solutions make sure that our candidates get the best opportunities possible, which help them realise their potentials, and which help them strike a perfect balance of personal and professional life. Success, after all, should be wholesome.


Unfortunately, Africa as a continent has a very peculiar image in the minds of many. The things mentioned above like well-being, safety, growth are not the things generally associated with the place because of half-baked information one might have come across, hearsay, reliance on limited sources or simply because of an unwillingness to look beyond certain stereotypes. Success on a corporate level is an even more unthinkable possibility for many.

We have a different story to tell.

Our successful and happy candidate, Mr. Nagaraja  K R has a different story to tell (and  show).

He tells us about his experience in Tanga, a port-city in Tanzania where he works at Neelkanth Lime Ltd. :

“Under guidance of our Managing Director, All department HOD with all teams we are able to contribute for business success and bringing investor’s vision into final business results successfully. There is 100% focus on KRA, feasibility, cost benefits, optimum resource utility, converting time to money, trying to bring positive results every day, reduce wastages, converting unutilized resource to money. The management is very supportive, and their drive for result-oriented activities, culture and values  has helped in achievement of KRA/KPI/goals. Here I got more duties & responsibility, new assignments, challenging tasks, more business insights,all of which has helped me to grow from all professional angles. This working environment helps individual capability improvement & gives opportunity to bring skillset into real time practice. ”

As can be seen, the roles and responsibilities offered in Africa as a continent in general are far less rigid, and provide an opportunity for a truly professionally wholesome development. Mr. Nagaraja  started as an Executive Assistant with the company. He is now a General Manager.


He further tells us about the place:

“Tanga is good place to work. Small town, peaceful. People are good in general, the city is clean. Security is good. Irrespective of time you can go outside. There is a good theatre here and all new Hindi films release along with their Indian releases. Some good hotels are available here. Indian food is also available here,be it North Indian or South Indian.

“Fruits like Cassava, Mangoes, Pineapple, Ramphal and are very cheap. Cost of living is less compared to other towns in Africa / Tanzanian city. Weather is good most of the year, and pollution is very less. The vegetation is good. There is connectivity to Dar es Salam via roadway, airway and seaway. The traffic is minimal and it takes maximum 30 minutes to commute anywhere in Tanga. ”


He shared these wonderful photographs of the place.



The  quaint  Tanga  airport. Look  at  the  clear  blue  sky!



Tanga  roundabout.




The  picturesque  Tanga Bay [Bandari Port]


P.S : We thank Mr. Nagaraja K R for sharing his experiences with us. We also thank the city of Tanga for welcoming him with open arms.