There's no running from the tick tock

Last Updated 30 January 2015, 16:49 IST

When the ‘to-do’ list keeps growing and 24 hours seem too little for the day, it’s time to introspect and invest in some time management lessons. Not just for professional success, but personal harmony too, writes S R Krishna Murthy

Ever since the dawn of civilisation, human beings have faced this great mystery of time, the valuable commodity that cannot be stored, invested or lent. The driving force that reminds man of his mortality is the same commodity that hangs heavy at times of despair and loneliness.

The harsh reality is that the clock ticks away at almost the same speed as the heart beat that keeps man alive. And it moves only in one direction. One who can master time can master life. As Dr Ali Khwaja beautifully put it, “Although time can be mercilessly cruel, it can be tamed into a loving pet who actually serves our needs”.

Lessons for life

Initially, time management used to be referred to only for business or work-related activities, but the term is now broadened to include personal and household affairs, too. Time management is the art or process of planning and exercising control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.

It is a meta-activity, with the goal to maximise the overall benefits of a set of activities within limited amount of time. The system is a designed combination of processes, tools and methods.

The time factor is the guiding star for scientific researches. Galileo observed that the time taken by three-and-half feet wide hanging lamps, while shaking horizontally, was equivalent to the time taken by his 72 pulse beats. This led to the discovery of the pendulum watch. 

Time management is the driving force for technological revolution and project-oriented activities of the present century. It is aided by a range of skills, tools and techniques. Planning of the project is the first step. Thought is the forerunner of planning; a silent mind is the fertile ground for evaluating the viability of the plan. Time utilised on thinking through the plan is an essential part of time management.

Then comes setting priorities and goals. Set ‘gravitational goals’ that attract action automatically – both, ideal long-term goals and time-bound, realistic, short-term goals. The latter should take one towards the fulfillment of the former.Jobs may be prioritised into four categories:

* Important and urgent: Need to be done immediately and personally (crises and deadlines)
* Important but not urgent – Have an end date, but need not be done urgently (future planning and recreation)
*Unimportant but urgent (interruptions and meetings)
* Unimportant and not urgent (time wasters )

Play some, too

When you are under stress, make it a point to take a break. The best example is that of former U.S President, Dwight Eisenhower. In his chamber, he had a painter’s set-up with drawing board, white canvas, bunch of paint brushes and coloured paint bottles.

 He painted pictures of hills, flowing rivers, moving clouds, flying birds, cattle grazing on the meadows. And thus absorbed in the paintings, the man is said to have gathered momentum, inspiration and enthusiasm.

According to Dr Ali, stress is inversely proportional to time management. If you reduce your stress levels, it will automatically give you a better sense of time, prioritisation, efficiency and clarity.

Time management can be applied to any aspect of life. For homemakers, who are always rushing against time to finish their day-to-day work, time management can be an effective tool. It can not only help them become more efficient, but also reduce tension and allow them the freedom to pursue some recreational activities.

Efficient time management can lead to better relationships and improved health.
By rough estimates, many offices work for less than 250 days in a year. Addiction to long telephone calls, unnecessary gossip, procrastination and day-time sleep are some of the common time wasters. One needs to learn how to say ‘no’ and balance one’s needs with those of others. That way, it’s easier to allot tasks and prioritise them.

A maxim in Sanskrit (vairagya shatakam: 49) says that out of one hundred years of a man’s life, sleep accounts for fifty years. Out of the remaining fifty years, childhood and old age take up twenty five years.

The remaining twenty five years are covered by sickness, calamities and the like. The moral of this maxim is that time management techniques should be applied to get the best out of life.Don’t be a victim in the hands of time, learn to tame the beast.

(Published 30 January 2015, 16:48 IST)

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