Alterdoctor (AD) caught up with Jagdish Chaturvedi, a doctor who wears many hats, a multitasker extra ordinaire. Surgeries, medical device innovations, acting, stand-up comedy and not the least, parenting two very energetic kids……his present gigs are too many to list here. He has optimised his passions in a manner very few have. Is there a method to his madness…let’s find out.
Jagdish’s formula for multi-tasking
AD: For one as prolific as you, how do you manage to turn up for your various activities, leave alone excel at many. Is there a support system behind you?
JAGDISH: I work with teams for all professional activities
I have a team that manages my ENT work. A team for my events and performances. A PR team and legal team for communications. An editing team for books/writing work. A start up company for every product I am involved as a co-inventor.
Each team member has a professional & commercial engagement bound by contract/agreement. They benefit exponentially from my progress.
AD: When you break down the task list behind any activity, what do you pick?
JAGDISH: I focus on execution of core skill only
Apart from patient care, performing surgeries, providing content for books, performing comedy, spending time in ideation of new products testing/validation and training of products, the rest is outsourced to respective teams (logistics, travel arrangements, documentation, bureaucratic time-consuming activities).
AD: Still, to bring your ‘A’ game to all these activities is tough. Even when it appears that you are passionate about pretty much all that you do, you would surely prioritise. What is your take?
JAGDISH: I triage effort based on requirement
To multitask, it’s not possible to give a 100% to everything. So, I focus on smaller areas of expertise to deliver the best.
I therefore triage effort accordingly. 1st priority is patient care and surgeries. But I cannot give 100% to all procedures in ENT. So, I specialise and focus to provide 100% quality and care for a smaller area of expertise that I am most passionate about and have the most experience/training in, which is nose, sinus and eustachian tube procedures (minimally-Invasive). I ensure there is 100% quality, effort and accuracy to provide care in this area. Logistics and co-ordination are borne by teams.
2nd priority is inventing affordable medical devices but I cannot give my 100% to all aspects of the invention process. So I focus to give 100% to only clinical aspects of needs identification, validation, ideation, testing and training aspects of the inventions. Rest is shared with teams.
For comedy & book writing, I don’t spend a lot of time, so I target 70% efficacy which is quick execution and satisfactory quality. I am not able to give this a 100% as it will impact the 1st two in priority which I cannot compromise on. But I am satisfied with the 70% effort as it takes lesser time when managed by good teams.
AD: Aspiring multitaskers can learn much from that; primary focus areas, other creative pursuits- proportioning efforts based on criticality and support system. Now what about the equal if not more demanding role as a family man ?
JAGDISH: I don’t compromise on family time
I ensure to communicate with family about everything I do. Maintain transparency and ensure I spend a good amount of the day and few good exclusive holidays every few months to de-stress with them.
AD: Looking at your activity profile and following, you must be getting calls to participate or collaborate in multiple projects and events. What’s your filter here?
JAGDISH: Strictly no favours
I always try to keep professional and commercial engagements with clear understanding of activities, timelines and outcomes. I don’t entertain vague efforts with no clear direction with the hope to find opportunities later. I do this only when potential opportunity is worthwhile. Else avoid such engagements.
AD: Is there a danger of spreading yourself too thin with all this? Also, isn’t there a tendency to flit between engagements at a superficial level after the novelty and the need to prove wears off?
JAGDISH: Keep adequate Me-Time
Working with teams effectively helps me get family time and also enough Me-Time. Thanks to traffic and frequent air travel and resulting intestinal troubles, I spend a lot of time on the road, air and in toilets. This gives me time to think, reflect, introspect and mitigate road blocks. Also gives me time to watch some comedy, movies or read an interesting article.
AD: For a time and effort optimiser, is there also a formula to optimise finances? What do you prioritise here?
JAGDISH: I re-invest whatever I earn
I believe in pushing my efforts independently, so that I can drive decisions quickly and carry out my ideas without much hindrance. I therefore have no or very little savings and invest whatever earned in my ideas or existing projects.
AD: Interesting! That seems like a very millennial goal- experiences over possessions and all that. Is there a long-term strategy to this?
JAGDISH: I prioritise time over money
Probably the most important thing that I do. I try to execute whatever possible in the quickest time possible while maintaining required quality. I do this at an expense of spending more money and hiring more resources. Though this may not be cost effective, this is certainly time effective and helps in disruption and impact.
AD: Pretty much all that you do also have the factor of chance and a certain unpredictability with respect to volumes or sudden challenges- how do you mitigate that?
JAGDISH: A- I Maintain flexibility
The team work approach allows flexibility at times of varying workload. Sometimes there are too many surgeries and sometimes too many comedy shows and sometimes a lot of innovation related work. Managing teams and calendar to help manage these fluctuations has helped me prevent burnout and being over worked.
B- I allow room for mistakes and seek benefit in them
For clinical and innovation related work, I spend a lot of time ensuring no mistakes are made and quality is at its maximum. But for comedy, writing and low priority activities where I target 70% efficacy, I am liberal with mistakes and use them as a tool to monitor engagements and learn from experiences. It helps to keep me grounded and reduces burden on non-purposeful activities.
AD: Finally, if you were to self-assess the up and downsides of the Jagdish Chaturvedi approach…..
JAGDISH: Pros of this approach –
- Effective outcomes.
- More impact.
- Great personal and professional growth. Good scalability.
- Satisfactory peace of mind and strong self-esteem/confidence.
- Lots of content for comedy and books.
Cons of this approach –
- Low or no financial liquidity and savings.
- Unable to engage in pro-bono activities as it negatively impacts teams and other stakeholders.
- Impulsive mistakes and getting into troubles. (Example – Had to take a loan to pay my taxes last year due to poor financial management)
AD: That’s refreshing candour! We would think with that attitude to growth, be it personal or for a project, temporary setbacks would just be stepping stones. Focus and priorities geared for impact.Dr Jagdish Chaturvedi- Thank you for the straight talk and insights. Best with all that you do.