By Dr. Shahid Amin & Professor Somen Mitra
Time management is the act of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. The serious issue today that has gripped the society is time mismanagement. Are there differences between time perception in India and time perception in other countries? Does Indian philosophy come in the way of effective time management? There is no denying that there are huge differences in time perceptions of India as compared to those of other regions like Europe and the US in the realms of long-term versus short-term orientation, respect for punctuality, commitment and sensitivity of others’ time and reverence of time as a character-building value. Undoubtedly, being timely and punctuality is a virtue that is held in high regard in our society and being on time is treated a sign of a professional, reliable and a caring person. There are always high lessons taught in schools, colleges and universities about being timely. Alas! But when the preachers themselves are not timely, how come do we expect followers shall follow the rule? It really doesn’t matter how much time we have with us and if we can’t manage it properly – we’ll just spend most of the day running around aimlessly.
There are many instances how time mismanagement is defeating someone’s good intentions to be timely. Being Kashmiri, I remember the scene when someone invites you to attend a marriage or any other ceremony and that how our lunch turns into a fine dinner. One ends up losing his lunch or is prepared in advance that he has to bear his hunger for a good time. To a greater surprise, the invitation cards do also mention that guests are requested to be on time. Ah! Who cares?
What is more dismal is that the system is appreciating time mismanagement rather than attempts to counter it in right ways? More pathetic is that so called good men in the society have the notion that they will lose their grades if they are early/timely to any good occasions. They have to be late to find a warm welcome from those who are timely. The problem lies here where we are attempting to defeat time. The developed countries have made good inroads into progress due to good time management. Rather than defeating time, they hold it high and lead by examples.
Time mismanagement has some serious outcomes. When a student is not able to manage time, he suffers badly in his studies. When a job seeker is not timely, he loses a wonderful opportunity in terms of a job and security for future. Being late for employees’ means they have to face the tune of their bosses and more stress for the rest of the day. Our close ones will be unhappy when we attend late to their events. The mounting rise of accidents is a result of human error and credits must be given to time mismanagement. This leads to rash driving and hence the world loses some beautiful souls in tragic scenes.
Impatience is usually a sign of poor time management. Having failed to allow sufficient time for a task or, having procrastinated excessively, we find ourselves under extreme pressure to make a deadline. We may accuse other people, or technology, of delaying us but the truth is that we fail because of our own attempts by failing to manage our time properly. We constantly fall behind in tasks and we work extra hard to catch up. Eventually, our energy levels begin to drop and we lose motivation. It becomes harder to catch up and so we fall further behind which drains us of even more energy.
Time Management Strategies:
We’re all looking to be successful in life, but we are wasting our time doing things that are holding us back from reaching our full potential. We get ourselves involved in activities that do not contribute to our greatest success. We all have a limited time in Life. We need to learn how valuable each second of the day is—that there really isn’t any time to waste on activities that didn’t grow us towards our goals. We need to identify what is more important and what is least important in life. How to plan our day effectively is a bigger issue? Ideally we must plan a day ahead preferably before sleep or at the beginning of the relevant day. Many time management methods are also available and can help us tremendously e.g. Pareto’s 80-20 Rule, Time Matrix etc.
Pareto’s 80-20 rule says that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. 20% of your customers will account for 80% of your sales. 20% of your products or services will account for 80% of your profits. 20% of your tasks will account for 80% of the value of what you do, and so on. This means that if you have a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth as much or more than the other eight items put together.
Moreover, the most simple, powerful and user friendly technique is to use: ABC System (A= High priority work, B= Urgent to an extent but not high priority work and C= Neither urgent nor high priority work). The ABC Method is a powerful priority setting technique that you can use every single day. This technique is so simple and effective that it can, all by itself, make you one of the most efficient and effective people in your field. The power of this technique lies in its simplicity. Here’s how it works: You start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day. Think on paper. You then place an A, B, or C before each item on your list before you begin the first task.
We must also write down our top priorities and break down those large tasks into more reasonable steps. Our goals must be SMART goals and not confusion oriented. SMART here means that our goals must be specific- measurable-achievable-realistic and time bound. Successful people have a purpose, a laser-focused plan of tasks they want to achieve on a particular day. We must also keep margins and breaks and evaluate ourselves. If we want to enter into a truly successful life, we must focus on things that positively inspire our life. We must eliminate deadly energy around and unload what is weighing us down. It’s always great to be inspired by what great people have done or are doing.
Time must be given utmost priority and we need not to waste a second of it. As teachers we have a greater role and set right time management examples rather than teaching worse to the students. As leaders in society, we need to lead by exception. Unless our society doesn’t counter time mismanagement rightly, the system will be collapse one day. We must use both positive and negative tools to deal the issue seriously. The attempts should be to use negative motivational quotes on the invitations and emails for those who don’t value time.
We need to develop a culture to be strict with late comers irrespective of their positions and at least at minimum make them realize their fault. Those who are on time we must openly heap praises on them. Children from a tender age must be taught good time management skills by their families and the educational institutions to be the better citizens in future. Time management is a great professional development skill to have and it will help us throughout our career. Effective time management will enable us to be more efficient at work, which creates positive outcomes for our personal and professional lives. Employers by rewarding their employees in small ways will greatly inspire them to get the job done efficiently and on time. Every employee likes to be recognized when they do great work and when employers do so by rewarding them for their hard work, they will greatly boost their moral which will improve their quality of work and will also improve on their delivery time. Let’s value and treat time as a vital asset to achieve maximum from this small life.
—The authors are Assistant Professors at ITM University, Gwalior. They can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org (The write up has been extracted from a recent FDP presentation on ‘Time Management’ at ITM University Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh)