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2016: The Year of 24 Hour Days

Dec 31, 2015

In this issue
» Dr Doom feels US already in recession
» Business houses that gained and lost in 2015
» ..and more
Rahul Shah, Co-Head of Research

At Equitymaster, our beat is stocks. And as you would know, wealth is just one of the elements if we are to brew a delightful potion that goes by the name of a profound and purposeful life.

Therefore, anytime we feel that our readers need a break from the world of bulls and bears, and understand these other elements, we reach out to our colleagues over at Common Sense Living.

And what better time to reach out than now when in a few hours, we bid adieu to the year 2015 and usher in a brand new year, full of endless possibilities.

If you are in the mood to list down ideas for a fuller and more purposeful 2016, you could do no better than go through this really insightful essay written by Anisa Virji, the Managing Editor over at Common Sense Living.

We are sure you will come out on the other side as inspired as we did.

Rahul Shah
Co-Head of Research


Anisa Virji

When you wake up, the day stretches out in front of you. Infinite minutes with an equal number of possibilities. There is so much you will do with it. Today you will read some of that book you've been carrying around since that airport bookstore. You will finish that puzzle you started with your three-year old. Then you'll do some research into that new business idea you had a few weeks ago; it sure seems viable... It's going to be a productive day!

Next thing you know, you're looking back at the day, exhausted of its possibilities. You did a lot... You were quite busy, actually. You have a few hours of the day left, but you're tired from all the busyness.

You note with a mild headache and tension in your back that you didn't actually do the things you were thinking about that morning. All you want to do now is sink into your comfy sofa and eat something comforting until sleep overcomes you... Tomorrow is a new day.

And so it goes. Tomorrow will be a new day. A new week. A new month... A new year.

And you are busy, every day. You work hard. You do a lot. You never seem to have enough time. Man, time flies.

But here's the thing. As Michael Altshuler says, 'The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot.'

Instead of letting time take off in whatever direction it wants, while all you do is watch it fly by on an increasingly higher definition TV...take control of it, and point it in the direction you want.

No means yes...

  • People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

- Steve Jobs

Your time is your greatest asset. If you spend all of it doing things for others, or doing things you 'should' be doing instead of what you want to do, you will find that there doesn't seem to be enough of it.

Paulo Coelho said, 'When you are saying yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.' When it comes to your time, sometimes saying no to others means saying yes to you.

Get rid of clutter...

Not just in the things you do, but also in the things around you. The more things you have, the more of your time is sucked into your things. The more clothes you have, the more time you waste picking out clothes. The more foods you eat, the more time you spend figuring out what you want to eat. The more gadgets you have, the more time you spend charging, syncing, checking, and using. The more 'friends' you have, the more time you spend socialising fruitlessly.

You are who your friends are, and not all of them lift you up. Figure out who and what matters...hold on tighter to them, and a little looser to everything else.

  • If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you'll die a lot of times.

- Dean Smith

So declutter. If you were on a boat that was sinking, what would you throw overboard so that it would sink slower? Your boat is sinking, by the way. We're all running out of time. Lighten your load, and you'll get more time. As Bruce Lee said, 'It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.'

Plan time to stretch it...

Remember all those ideas you had about your day when you woke up...? I will do this and that and the other...only to realise at the end of the day that none of those got done because you didn't have time for them?

You didn't have time for them because you didn't put them in your schedule. Time is funny like that. There is no structure to it whatsoever. It's abstract and fluid. Until you put a structure around putting water in a container.

According to Parkinson's Law, work expands to fit the time allotted to it. So if you give yourself two weeks to complete a two-hour job, the work will expand to take that much time. Maybe not physically, but mentally. All the stress of having to do that work will fill up your time until you are at your deadline.

To get control of your time, plan it well, give it the shape you want and watch your dreams take shape with it.

I have been meaning to start reading 'a book a week' ever since my boss told me he does that a year and a half ago. I love the concept and talk about it to everyone. But it just wouldn't get started.

So I gave myself a deadline: I refuse to enter 2016 without getting this thing sorted. To make my deadline harder I drew up an Excel sheet where I collect lists of the books I will read each week. Finally, to make myself accountable I have already announced to the Wealth Builders Club members that I will be starting a book club in the month of January where we will discuss ideas from these books (you can learn more about the club here).

It's still a few weeks away from the new year, and I'm already a month into my new endeavour. Deadlines work. Give yourself some.

Find your focus...

There's no point taking control of your time if you don't know where you want to go with it.

  • Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

- American writer Yale Richmond

Instead of rushing around pointlessly trying to get somewhere by aiming nowhere...pause to take stock. Install a pause your day, your week, your month. And your year...but most people do that anyway.

When you turn to look back at your year, you shouldn't find, to your surprise, the path littered with abandoned dreams. You should find yourself at the peak of a mountain you have been climbing all year.

To walk that path, you need to map it out. You need to have a direction you head in, making progress every day.

So make a plan. Make a master plan, in fact. Read The Pledge to learn how to make a master plan like Mark Ford's.

And slow down...

  • One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren't enough hours in the day, but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.

- Viggo Mortensen

We all have the same 24 hours to make a difference. You can either stretch that out to as many hours as you need, or shrink it down to never enough. If you slow down, focus, and prioritise, you can make your days much longer, and your 2016 more productive.

3.15 Chart of the day

As the year draws to a close, everyone is busy taking stock of the year gone by. And just like in everyone else, India's big business groups too saw had very divergent experiences of the year that was 2015. Some of them came out on top, and some ended the year with less than they started. For some, the year was arduous journey that seemed to have no end. Others still probably didn't want the year to get over.

Our chart of the day gives you a glimpse of top three losers and gainers amongst the biggest business houses in the country.

The gainers and losers of 2015

While the Hinduja and Bajaj groups saw their fortunes look up, groups that had exposure to the cyclical commodity markets and infrastructure sector had a hard time.

What will 2016 bring? We don't know. But it seems a good time to remind ourselves of a quote from Roman poet Horace, 'Many shall be restored that now are fallen and many shall fall that now are in honor.'


Dr Doom, Marc Faber is at it again. He is recommending buying US treasuries. In this extremely low interest rate environment, one would not want to go into treasuries unless one wants to rush to safety. So, is Faber warning of a recession? Yes, that's right. In an interview with Bloomberg, Faber put out the opinion that the US is already entering a recession.

Please note Faber's view is in direct opposition to the one given by US Fed Chair Janet Yellen recently. Yellen, as we all know, raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade and argued the decision should be taken as a sign of confidence in the US economy.

Regular readers know whose side we like to be on. We have maintained that the recovery in the US has always been on a weak footing as none of the excesses of the past have gone away. The policymakers have only thrown more money at the problem which may not be the best long term approach. So while the economy may be strong as per Yellen, it is only because of the quantitative easing and low interest rates. And once these stimuli are taken away, we could well enter into another recession.


The Indian stock markets were trading flat today with no significant movements in either direction. At the time of writing, the BSE-Sensex was trading up by around 20 points. Gains were being seen in and stocks.

4.55 Today's investment mantra

"The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken." - Warren Buffett

This edition of The 5 Minute WrapUp is authored by Rahul Shah (Research Analyst).

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