Productivity//

My Best Ideas Emerge in Me-Time

For the Founder-Director of ILSS Anu Prasad, an ideal day is one in which she does what she loves: Work!

Anu Prasad, founder-director of India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS), that aims to create a learning and leadership development organisation helps build leadership capacity for India’s social sector.

Prior to starting her own venture in 2017, Prasad was senior advisor at a non-profit philanthropic foundation—Central Square Foundation—working to ensure quality school education for all children in India. An alumnus of HR College, Mumbai, she has an MBA from IMI, New Delhi.

She was also the founding deputy dean of the prestigious Young India Fellowship (YIF) and a founding member of Ashoka University, India’s first liberal arts university. She has also worked at multinational companies such as American Express and TNT.

An entrepreneur at heart, Prasad has also previously co-founded and managed a successful travel company. She has been a consultant for Dell Foundation on education projects. An avid reader, active volunteer in civic causes, and a passionate believer in lifelong learning, she also mentors young professionals and senior leaders.

Answering some quick questions from Thrive Global India, Prasad talks of her love for what she does and the need to detach from social media.

Thrive Global India: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Anu Prasad: I check my phone for messages and greet my husband and daughter. 

TGI: How do you unplug and recharge?

AP: I walk a lot. Exercise is the best form of meditation for me. I walk more than an hour every day.  I also enjoy reading and playing Sudoku.

TGI: What are your favourite well-being tips?

AP: Take some time every day to day dream, love wisely and well, see humour in things, build and value relationships, and express gratitude.

TGI: Tell us about your relationship with your phone.

AP: Unfortunately, the phone has become my third child. It gets way too much of my time and attention. I need to revisit this relationship. 

TGI: How do you deal with negativity on social media?

AP: While I do use social media quite a bit, I do not engage with trolls at all, nor do I get dragged into negative discussions—it can sap one’s energy and happiness. Social media needs to be handled with a great deal of responsibility.

TGI: When was the last time you felt burned out?

AP: I feel exhausted after every edition of the ILSS Leadership Program. It runs over nine days and involves almost 100 hours of learning and interactions. It’s hugely inspiring but also very exhausting. I need some downtime after every program to reflect and recharge. 

TGI: What would you do on an ideal day?

AP: I would work (I love my work!), do some writing in my diary, spend time with my loved ones, including my team, exercise and day dream.

TGI: How much sleep do you generally get?

AP: I usually get seven hours of sleep.

TGI: Do you notice any change in your performance on the days of less sleep?

AP: Yes, I get cranky when I’m sleep deprived.

TGI: How do you incorporate well-being into your daily life?

AP: I keep a fairly regular lifestyle. Also, by disposition I am a happy person. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I do take my work very seriously. I always keep some time in the day to do the things that I love: reading, listening to music, or talking to a loved one. Since my job requires me to interact constantly with people, being alone for some time also restores my balance and allows me to reflect. Some of my best ideas have emerged during my ‘me’ time.   

TGI: What benefit do these habits have on your ability to perform?

AP: Firstly, I love what I do. That alone keeps me energised. Adopting a lifestyle of moderation helps too. I have learnt along the way the importance of prioritising for myself. Women tend to neglect themselves and it is counterproductive.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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