Unless time is managed properly, nothing worthwhile can be accomplished. Time is unique resource. It is indispensable, intangible, irreplaceable, irretrievable and therefore invaluable. It is equitably and uniformly distributed. A day of every one consists of 24 hours only, no more and no less. Every piece of work requires time. Difficult tasks may require ample time; after all Rome was not built in a day.
Time does not obey the laws of ordinary arithmetic. 4 minutes today and 3 minutes tomorrow do not add up to 7 minutes at a stretch. Time without energy has not much value; for instance, if one is seriously ill the time duration of illness is practically useless. Time is money. Costs are related to the passage of time, such as interest on capital. Time is also a measure of effort. Even a few minutes of time can be of critical importance. Time lost is lost for ever and yet the easiest thing is to waste time. We always tend to waste time and then regret that we are always short of time. Time management is, therefore aspect of management.
A Swiss gentleman summed up 65 years of his life as under:-
(a) Spent in bed - 26 years
(b) Spent in Office/at work - 20 years
(c) Spent in eating - 6 years
(d) Spent in waiting - 6 years
(e) Spent in anger - 6 years
(f) Spent in toilet, bathing, shaving,
laughing, scolding children, blowing
nose and lighting cigar - 1 year
(g) No time apparently spent in
thinking, planning or achieving goals
Modes of Time
There are two modes of time for every person:
(a) Either you have a very “busy” mind, effectively employing human resources like working, thinking, remembering, reading, writing, watching, discussing, listening etc., in short, fully utilizing your senses. Here you are very busy and involved.
(b) Or at the other extreme, you have an “empty” mind – for example, whilst waiting for a bus or train, waiting for a doctor or friend, when you do not get sleep or listening to a boring speech or attending infructuous meetings – activities in which you are not interested or mentally involved but perforce have to be physically present.
In the first case time flies – you would say – “Oh. My God! One hour has passed. I thought just about 5 minutes have gone by.”
In the second case, imagine you are waiting for a doctor, or your friend at a Cinema Hall or awaiting a train, which is running late, at the railway station. You look right, then left, then at your watch. You curse your friend or the train for not coming on time. It seems ages. When the much-delayed person or train arrives at last, you shout “Why are you late? I am cooling my heels for hours.” Whereas actually only three or four minutes may have passed.
For a Busy Mind: Time Flies.
For a Empty Mind: Time Crawls.
Time can be divided into three aspects for applying techniques of managing it:-
(a) Biological: Pertaining to bodily functions.
(b) Social: Pertaining to self, family and society.
(c) Professional: Pertaining to professional activities/time spent at work.
It is essential to maintain equilibrium between these three aspects. Any imbalance may prove to be detrimental to one’s physical and mental health and can adversely affect the individual in the long run.
It is essential, therefore, to allocate one’s time in balanced manner to the extent feasible to all these three aspects.
(a) Biological Time : Adopt the golden mean of moderation among:-
(iii) Ablutions / Calls of nature
(iv) Sex / Recreation
(v) Physical Exercise
It is advantageous to establish regularity for all the above activities.
(b) Social Time : It is desirable to give time to yourself, your family and for society and the general guide lines are :
(i) Self development/self time – at least one hour per day should be kept for oneself for thinking, introspection, reading and other hobbies.
(ii) Family time – strong family ties and a happy domestic life are the foundations of success in both personal and professional life. One must spend some time with one’s family everyday and to co-ordinate activities of family members. Dinner time and after is suitable for this.
iii) Social time – in order to live in society, one has to attend various social events like weddings, religious functions etc., where one is not the master of one’s own time. Social obligations may entail a substantial portion of time.
(c) Professional Time : In this aspect, if one is working, one does not really have a choice as working hours are generally fixed. The aim here is to optimally utilize the available time for maximum output/productivity and self satisfaction. It is, therefore, essential to plan one’s work and that of the subordinates in an efficient manner and also identify “Time Wasters” and make efforts to eliminate/reduce them. Examples of Time Wasters are –
(i) Infructuous meetings.
(ii) Poor communication.
(iii) Unwanted visitors
(iv) Disorganized work due to lack of clear cut priorities, “Fire Fighting”/Crisis Management, duplication of effort, confused responsibility and authority, ineffective delegation, indecision and, in general, failure of Management of Work.
The basic cause of time wastage at work can be classified as follows:-
(a) Over-staffing is common cause of wastage of time. Since most of the people do not have clearly defined work for the whole day, they often obstruct each other and create unnecessary problems. According to Peter Drucker – “If a Manager or Supervisor is spending more than 1/10th of his time on human relations, on disputes and quarrels, it is clear indication of over-staffing”.
(b) Time is wasted on account of faulty organization of work. Work is not planned sufficiently in advance.
(c) There is enormous wastage of time and effort due to various meetings often at various locations, which are not properly directed and drag on interminably.
(d) Time is often wasted because the relevant information is not readily available or the information available is inaccurate. Similarly collection, storage and dissemination of unnecessary information is wasteful.
Though one has to evolve one’s own technique of time management depending on the circumstances, the three cardinal principles are –
(a) Span of Attention
(b) Provision of time in adequate chunks.
(a) Span of Attention : There is a natural limit to how long one can concentrate on a particular activity or task. This is called span of attention. For example – One cannot obviously work continuously for a long duration without loosing effectiveness. Working beyond one’s span of attention becomes counter-productive. Work begins to suffer badly. In planning work, this requirement must always be kept in view.
(b) Provisions of time in adequate chunks : If any important work is to be done, time must be made available in sufficiently large chunks. For example – If a job takes 20 minutes, it is of no use to allocate time at the rate of 5 minutes a day for 4 days. Time used in such driblets is utterly wasted. For important work one requires sufficient time at a stretch.
(c) Concentration: Concentration is essential for effective utilization of time. This as a matter of practice is necessary to avoid all interruptions. It is also necessary to focus attention on one task at a time.
Time Management is essentially a matter of self-discipline, though it is affected by external factors. The aim should be to identify and minimize both internal and external Time Wasters to the extent feasible. One has to cultivate the art of enjoying essential both work and leisure. It is essential to maintain equilibrium between biological, social and professional time for improving one’s effectiveness. In short Time T = X + Y + Z, where X = hard work; Y = play or rest; Z = keeping one’s mouth shut i.e. “Silence” for “Introspection”.