The Art of Bitfulness: Nandan Nilekani, Tanuj Bhojwani on how to beat FOMO

Nandan Nilekani, co-founder and chairman of Infosys, and Tanuj Bhojwani, a fellow at the iSPIRT Foundation, recently appeared in a Prime Venture Podcast to share insights from their recent book — The Art of Bitfulness.
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‘The Art of Bitfulness’ is a product of the pandemic, say authors Nandan Nilekani, co-founder, and chairman of Infosys, and Tanuj Bhojwani, a fellow at the iSPIRT Foundation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased dependence on digital tools, both for work and leisure. According to The Art of Bitfulness authors, their book is a guide to help people cope with their digital lives in the new normal.

In the latest episode of Prime Venture Podcast, hosted by Sanjay Swamy, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners, Nandan and Tanuj reveal the secrets to managing digital distractions.

Nandan and Tanuj’s tips on compartmentalisation

Nandan says he maintains three separate devices to mark clear boundaries among his work, leisure and social engagements.

“I do my work activities on my laptop. I have a sense of work that I do when I go to my laptop. I do all my curated activities of reading and watching movies on my iPad, and I use the phone only for communication,” he explains.

Tanuj’s strategy does not involve different devices. In fact, he compartmentalises the same device into three modes — create, curate and communicate — as described in the book as well.

“On my computer, I essentially have a create mode where I’m doing deep focused things. The other mode on my computer is essentially when I’m at play. There, I’m not caring about what I’m doing,” he says.

For communication, Tanuj also uses his phone where he is “geared for quick reply”.

Both Nandan and Tanuj reiterated that today, the digital world is omnipresent. It is a mistake to think that one only needs to become a more focused person. Instead, by drawing digital boundaries, anyone can manage distractions and become more productive.

The three key principles of remaining bitfull

How to draw digital boundaries that work? To answer this, Tanuj disclosed the three principles that they have mentioned in The Art of Bitfulness.

“Number one is, mirrors, not windows,” explains Tanuj. “Can your phone, can your laptop be your device that makes you look inwards, understand what’s happening and clarify?”

Nandan and Tanuj urged everyone to treat the available technology as an extension of their minds, a tool to enable advanced thinking.

“Principle number two is, don’t swim upstream,” says Tanuj. “Instead of trying to fight your environment, try to stay focused when your notifications are pinging you.”

And, the last principle is about defining ourselves. Creating that divide in that online world where you present one version of yourself to one group of people at specific times of the day and be present in that moment completely.

Beating FOMO as a VC and an entrepreneur

Nandan agreed that being constantly connected is attractive.

“Maybe we’ll get the next unicorn on that third call,” he quips. But his suggested strategy to beating FOMO and switching off is creating a destination brand.

“[If] entrepreneurs see [a VC] as a place to go to get smart capital, then they will find a way to get to you. And similarly for entrepreneurs, if I’m an entrepreneur and I have identified that these are the VCs I would like on my cap table, they will find a way to get to you,” he says.

According to Nandan, a missed call in the week when you switched off will not matter. If you can impress, people will contact you.

Tanuj suggests exposure therapy on top of Nandan’s destination brand idea. He said, “If you have a fear of missing out, try missing out, and I promised you the world doesn’t end.”

Unless entrepreneurs can beat FOMO, they cannot truly switch off. And that is where the digital boundaries start collapsing and productivity suffers.

To know more listen to the podcast here

Time stamps:

01:20 - Finding the The Art of Bitfulness in a Distracted World

10:00 - How to Avoid Clutter & Find Focus

17:00 - Define Yourself & Find Time for What Matters

23:00 - FOMO, Exposure Therapy & Time Blocking

28:10 - Rails by Government; Innovation by Entrepreneurs

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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