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Friday, June 22, 2018

PERSONAL SPECIAL... How I Stay Calm When I Feel Like I'm About to Lose It

How I Stay Calm When I Feel Like I'm About to Lose It

The other day I got a text from a client who told me (for the third time!) she needed to reschedule our coffee date. Ugh. It was an important, time-sensitive business meeting that I was well-prepared for and even scheduled business travel around.
What did I want to do? Text straight back, call her a flake, and tell her not to worry about coffee—ever? Yes. Ha! But I didn’t. Because I am restrained and professional and composed? Hell no. It was because I had my hands full with groceries, two packages, and a dog leash. The light of the text peeped out of my bag, and I saw the cancellation note but couldn't reach my phone. I had no choice but to wait the 15 minutes it took me to walk home to give her a call and reschedule.
What happened in those 15 minutes? The first five were jam-packed with feelings of irritation, frustration, and anxiety. The following five minutes were the same, but a little less so. The final five? Well, I felt OK. A tad stressed, sure, but I surrendered to the change and felt almost back to normal.
What helped? There was a forced distance and time delay between me and “the problem.” (Thanks, universe!) I wasn't able to act on my instincts to get mad and throw my phone against the nearest wall.
When have you been stressed or aggravated? Many times I’m sure. Here are some pretty common examples:
  • Airport delays
  • Friends being late, forcing you to wait around and waste time
  • Being told last minute you have to present/lead a group/take over a project
  • When you feel unfairly blamed/confronted/in trouble over something
  • Making a mistake at work (and your heart sinking at the realization)
  • Someone else getting the job you applied for
  • When a friend/spouse/relative makes an insensitive comment
  • When technology fails you and you lose your 27-slide presentation
  • You see an ex online with a new love interest
  • Stuck in traffic en route to an important appointment
What are we to do in these times? Scream, shout, kick, cry, lose it? Sometimes we will, yes. I am very guilty of acting out and not keeping a lid on my less-than-honorable emotions from time to time. But this only leaves us feeling worse. Feeling guilty, embarrassed, and remorseful. Instead try following these steps the next time you feel like you're about to lose it.
I am here. I am still. I am safe. I can feel my inhale and exhale. Everything’s OK.
1. Pause and breathe.
I say to myself, “I am here. I am still. I am safe. I can feel my inhale and exhale. Everything’s OK.” Even just 20 focused seconds of repeating this plus some deep breathing is instantly calming. Try it! If you can take 10 or 15 minutes (like I was forced to)—all the better!
2. Employ your rational mind.
Your emotional mind (ego) is not predictable or necessarily correct. The good news? You can keep it in check. Ask yourself, “How serious is this, really? Is the world going to end? Is this life and death?” Invite into your mind your old, reliable friends logic and reason.
3. Refuse to catastrophize.
Once you realize the very worst that can happen is you miss a flight, or you're going to be 10 minutes late for a date, or you may have to work overtime—understand that is all it is. There will be another flight. You can take those 10 minutes sitting in traffic to start a new podcast or catch up on the news. And working late once in a while never killed anyone. You can treat yourself to a glass of cabernet once you get home!
4. Focus on something else.
Like the old saying "A watched pot never boils," a stressful situation is never eased when we glare upon it. Can you distract yourself? In a cab on the way to the airport, can you call a friend? When someone says something that offends you, can you think of that person's good qualities and forgive her, or just get busy cleaning your closet? When your boss gives you a stack of work, can you think about how much more fun that upcoming vacation is going to be—visualizing yourself on a beach with that juicy book?
In moments you have zero control, focus on what you can do in that moment.
5. Control what you can.
There is only so much we can control. We can’t control who our parents are. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control rent increases or our boss’ bad mood or subway delays. We can’t control the line at the drugstore. In moments you have zero control, focus on what you can do in that moment. I like to read the book I typically have on hand, write part of a blog post on my phone notes, delete old apps, text my mum, or write to-do lists. Your phone is the gateway to a million productive tasks—thanks, 2016!
6. Have a little faith.
The late best-selling author and spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer said, “Everything is alwaysworking out perfectly.” Have you ever noticed when things haven't worked out it’s because something better was waiting—a better apartment, a higher-paying job, a more awesome S.O. than you could have imagined? I like to surrender to a greater plan in times of stress (only once I have followed all of the above steps).
And the coffee I had to schedule for the fourth time? It worked out better than ever. Not only did we have a kick-ass coffee date, but it also turned out that a friend surprised me with a visit to New York the very week I was supposed to have the meeting. I would have been out of town and missed my friend unless my client cancelled when she did.
Ah, sweet surrender.


POWER / BATTERY SPECIAL ....Battery storage: The next disruptive technology in the power sector

Battery storage: The next disruptive technology in the power sector
Low-cost storage could transform the power landscape. The implications are profound.
Storage prices are dropping much faster than anyone expected, due to the growing market for consumer electronics and demand for electric vehicles (EVs). Major players in Asia, Europe, and the United States are all scaling up lithium-ion manufacturing to serve EV and other power applications. No surprise, then, that battery-pack costs are down to less than $230 per kilowatt-hour in 2016, compared with almost $1,000 per kilowatt-hour in 2010.
McKinsey research has found that storage is already economical for many commercial customers to reduce their peak consumption levels. At today’s lower prices, storage is starting to play a broader role in energy markets, moving from niche uses such as grid balancing to broader ones such as replacing conventional power generators for reliability,1providing power-quality services, and supporting renewables integration.
Further, given regulatory changes to pare back incentives for solar in many markets, the idea of combining solar with storage to enable households to make and consume their own power on demand, instead of exporting power to the grid, is beginning to be an attractive opportunity for customers (sometimes referred to as partial grid defection). We believe these markets will continue to expand, creating a significant challenge for utilities faced with flat or declining customer demand. Eventually, combining solar with storage and a small electrical generator (known as full grid defection) will make economic sense—in a matter of years, not decades, for some customers in high-cost markets.
In this article we consider, as these trends play out, how storage could transform the operations of grids and power markets, the ways that customers consume and produce power, and the roles of utilities and third parties. Our analysis is directed mostly at developments in Europe and the United States; the evolution of storage could and probably will take a different course in other markets.
Implications for the utility industry
Storage can be deployed both on the grid and at an individual consumer’s home or business. A complex technology, its economics are shaped by customer type, location, grid needs, regulations, customer load shape, rate structure, and nature of the application. It is also uniquely flexible in its ability to stack value streams and change its dispatch to serve different needs over the course of a year or even an hour. These value streams are growing both in value and in market scale.
Cheap battery storage will pose a challenge for utilities behind the meter (that is, small-scale installations located on-site, such as in a home or business). But it will also present an opportunity for those in front of the meter (large-scale installations used by utilities for a variety of on-grid applications).
Behind the meter
Cheap solar is already proving a challenge to business as usual for utilities in some markets. But cheap storage will be even more disruptive because different combinations of storage and solar will likely be able to arbitrage any variable rate design that utilities create.
Specifically, net energy metering (NEM) refers to rules that allow excess power to be sold back to the grid at retail rates; and feed-in tariffs, which are guaranteed price adders for renewable power, have played an important role in expanding the global market for renewables. In the US states that have implemented such rules, NEM has proved to be a powerful incentive for consumers to install solar panels.
Although it has been helpful for solar, NEM also has put utilities under pressure. It reduces demand because consumers make their own energy; that increases rates for the rest, as there are fewer bill payors to cover the fixed investment in the grid, which still provides backup reliability for the solar customers. The solar customers are paying for their own energy but not paying for the full reliability of being connected to the grid. The utilities’ response has been to design rates that reduce the incentive to install solar by moving to time-of-use pricing structures, implementing demand charges, or trying to reduce how much they pay customers for the electricity they produce that is exported to the grid.
However, in a low-cost storage environment, these rate structures are unlikely to be effective at mitigating load losses. This is because adding storage allows customers to shift solar generation away from exports to cover more of their own electricity needs; as a result, they continue to receive close to the full retail value of their solar generation. This presents a risk for widespread partial grid defection, in which customers choose to stay connected to the grid in order to have access to 24/7 reliability, but generate 80 to 90 percent of their own energy and use storage to optimize their solar for their own consumption.
We are already seeing this begin to play out in places where electricity costs are high and solar is widely available, such as Australia and Hawaii. On the horizon, it could occur in other solar-friendly markets, such as Arizona, California, Nevada, and New York. Many utility executives and industry experts thought the risk of load loss was overblown in the context of solar; the combination of solar plus storage, however, makes it much more difficult to defend against.
Full grid defection—that is, completely disconnecting from the centralized electric-power system—is not economical today. At current rates of cost declines, however, it may make sense in some markets earlier than anyone now expects. Of course, economics alone will not dictate how much and when customers choose to disconnect from their utilities. For example, another important factor is confidence in the reliability of their on-site power. But this dynamic will affect business-model and regulatory decisions sooner.
In front of the meter
Storage can also benefit utilities by helping them to address the challenges of planning and operating the grid in markets where loads are expected to be flat or falling. Regulators in some US states, for example, are testing new models of compensation by offering utilities incentives to earn returns by providing contracts for distributed generation. This would, among other things, allow utilities to defer expensive new investments and reduce the risk of long-lived capital projects not being used.
Utilities are also acting to procure storage assets to address both long-term regulatory requirements and short-term needs, such as reliability and deferring the construction of a new substation. As storage costs drop, such projects could lower generating costs—and, thus, consumer electricity rates—by putting further pressure on existing conventional gas and coal-generation fleets, depressing prices in capacity markets and providing load-following services.
What utilities can do
Utilities must start now to understand how low-cost storage is changing the future. In effect, utilities need to disrupt themselves—or others will do it for them. There are two broad categories of action to consider.
Redesign compensation structures and explore new opportunities
Sooner or later—sooner is better—regulators and utilities will need to find new ways to recover their investment in the grid.
The grid is a long-lived asset that is expensive to build and maintain. Fixed fees for grid access are unpopular with consumers, and regulators are therefore not particularly keen on them, either. However, imposing fixed fees could ensure that everyone who uses the grid pays for it. The volumetric or variable rate structure in general use today is a historical construct. People are used to paying for the energy they use. But as more and more customers generate their own energy, the access to the grid for reliability and market access becomes more valuable than the electrons themselves.
Because any rate-design changes will likely be slow and incremental (particularly those transitioning to fixed charges), utilities need to respond to these new market realities by capturing new earnings opportunities from expanded services and new transaction fees. There are already some interesting initiatives along these lines. In Australia, utilities are becoming solar-and-storage installers and providing advisory services; while in the United States, one pilot program is selling advanced analytics and data-management services to consumers to help them manage their energy use.3Utilities in several states are also exploring new services and investing in grid modernization and electrification.
Rethinking grid-system planning
Utilities must radically change their grid-system planning approaches. This means investing in software and advanced analytics to modernize the grid. It also means changing how traditional system planning is done, by reconsidering codes and standards (some of which have been in place for decades), moving to circuit-by-circuit nodal planning, and employing asset health assessments to ensure the highest priority needs on the system are addressed.
Storage can be a unique tool in support of this. The straight economics of changing grid planning, with respect to return on capital, may not look different at first glance. But, because storage is more modular and can be moved more easily, the risk-adjusted value is likely to be much higher. That will enable utilities to adapt to uncertain needs at the circuit level and also to reduce the risk of overbuilding and stranded investments.
The role of third parties
As for third parties—meaning distributed-energy-resource (DER) companies, technology manufacturers, and finance players—there is tremendous potential for growth. But they must be nimble to take advantage of these opportunities.
Distributed-energy-resource companies can devise new combinations of solar and storage, tailored to specific uses. While storage could eventually provide more customer value and lower bills, new rate structures will be more complex and policy is unlikely to lock in rates for long periods. But shorter periods of defined rates and more complex rate schedules will make it more difficult for DER providers to add new customers, who don’t like complexity and want to be sure their investment will pay off. New product offerings and financing creativity could solve these challenges and tempt customers currently sitting on the fence.
Technology players will need to understand how and where to play along the storage value chain, and adapt their offerings to meet customer needs as the technology and use cases quickly evolve.
Financing players, such as banks and institutional investors, will need to create options that adapt and match the investment horizon of the customer. As the market grows more confident of the underlying economics and performance of storage, they will develop financial products adapted to the technology’s specific needs. When that happens, financing costs will fall, further expanding the market’s potential, creating a virtuous cycle akin to what has happened to solar this past decade.

Battery storage is entering a dynamic and uncertain period. There will be big winners and losers, and the sources of value will constantly evolve depending on four factors: how quickly storage costs fall; how utilities adapt by improving services, incorporating new distributed energy alternatives, and reducing grid-system cost; how nimble third parties are; and whether regulators can strike the right balance between encouraging a healthy market for storage (and solar) and ensuring sustainable economics for the utilities. All this will be treacherous territory to navigate, and there will no doubt be missteps along the way. But there is also no doubt that storage’s time is coming.
By David Frankel and Amy Wagner

TIME MANAGEMENT SPECIAL.... 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?
If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a daily plan
Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a time limit to each task
Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a calendar
Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.
Google Calendar is great – I use it. It’s even better if you can sync it to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are.

4. Use an organizer
An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.
Check out these Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools and pick the ones that fit your needs.

5. Know your deadlines
When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

6. Learn to say “No”
Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.
Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no.
7. Target to be early
When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.
For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

8. Time box your activities
This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? 

9. Have a clock visibly placed before you
Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set reminders 15 minutes before
Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

11. Focus
Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.
Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

12. Block out distractions
What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?
I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.
When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

13. Track your time spent
Egg Timer is a simple online countdown timer. You key in the amount of time you want it to track (example: “30 minutes”, “1 hour”) and it’ll count down in the background. When the time is up,the timer will beep. Great way to be aware of your time spent.

14. . Don’t fuss about unimportant details
You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

15. Prioritize
Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.
Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate.

16. Delegate
If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.
When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. 

17. Batch similar tasks together
For related work, batch them together.
For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:
1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
2. coaching
3. workshop development
4. business development
5. administrative
I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate your time wasters
What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.
One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.
While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off when you need to
The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.
Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave buffer time in-between
Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

Celestine Chua

SMARTPHONE SPECIAL..... A full-functional smartphone in a tiny form factor

A full-functional smartphone in a tiny form factor

The handset is designed to meet the demands of an active outdoor lifestyle

The Unihertz Atom is billed as the world’s smallest 4G rugged smartphone. It is the second attempt from Unihertz as a crowdfunded smartphone. The first, Project Jelly, saw nearly 11,000 backers pledging more than $1.25 million. With Atom, the company is aiming for something bigger. The estimated delivery date for the Unihertz Atom is October 2018.

The Atom is unlike any smartphone you have seen until now — it is tiny (97x45x19mm) and weighs just over 100 gm. Think of it as a rugged smartphone that has been compressed into something stockier. With rubber used all over its chassis, the Atom feels durable.
Where others would have used yellow lines to accentuate its rugged looks, Unihertz chose red as the accent colour for the Atom. At the front of the device are a camera and three capacitive buttons, one of which also doubles as a fingerprint reader.

The device has been IP68-certified which means that it has been tested and should easily withstand life outdoors, and be capable of dealing with its fair share of water, dust, shock and extreme temperatures.
The Atom is kitted out with components usually found on mid-range handsets: an Octacore CPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB on-board storage and runs Android 8.1 Oreo. There’s no microSD card slot, though. The screen is a 2.45-inch display, supports dual SIM cards and universal 4G band and a decent 2,000 mAh battery.

The small size and low resolution of the display means the GPU on the Atom didn’t have to work as hard as other handsets. The small screen — which is oleophobic and covered with Corning Gorilla Glass — is usable, but don’t expect the same level of comfort as a bigger model. Starting and swiping apps works okay but typing onscreen can be a hassle as keys on the virtual keyboard are just a few square millimetres in size.