Time Management – A vehicle to success

Busy and lazy people, focussed and casual people, achievers and non-achievers, old and young people, fit and physically challenged people, all have the same 24 hours in a day. It is often said that busy people have time for everything while lazy people have no time for anything. Busy people keep saying “I can do this and I can plan the next one.” Lazy people ask “Where is the time?” The answer to question as to how to achieve more in less time and achieve one’s goal lies in effective time management. “It is not about having time, but making time.”

Time management is the process of planning to maximise time for an individual’s dream and allocating the time based on priorities and importance, as also getting the best results for the time spent. Effective time management implies that as a first step, planning the time slots in each day and allocating the slots towards work needed to achieve short and long term goals. The second step would be to distribute the tasks based on the priorities and importance. The third step would be to fix deadlines for each one of the tasks. The fourth step is to spend the right amount of time for the activities to get the expected results.

Time management skills are essential not just in our professional life but in our day-to-day routine activities. “Tasks prioritisation can be done in such a way that 80% of the work can be done in the first 20% of time, so that the remaining 20% of work can go on in the 80% of the time left.” People who manage time effectively sequence things in such a way that more is achieved in less time, thus they work with more efficiency. Time management helps in higher morale and self confidence and higher achievements in career. People who do not adopt good time management strategy fail to achieve their goals, regret, blame, suffer from stress and anxiety, become pessimistic and so on. The major reasons for this are procrastination and poor self-control.

The following techniques will help in acquiring the skills for effective time management. One has to set the priorities and prepare a to-do list with the highest priority ones on top and the lower priority ones below. There is a difference between the Urgent and the Important. It is also necessary to stay focussed, take breaks to relax and to prevent break-downs. One has to be realistic in defining the quantum of tasks. One has to also ensure to finish the tasks taken up on defined timelines. For this to happen one has to also ensure punctuality and discipline. It is also desirable to keep a buffer slot to complete work that overflows. One can also ensure some incentives to reinforce motivation on meeting the deadlines. It is necessary to celebrate the completion of intermediate steps towards the goal. Sometimes it may be necessary to insulate oneself from distracting environments.

While good time management is important for everyone, it plays a much bigger role in a student’s life. If as a student, one acquires good time skills, one has an advantage. Often in student life, one tends to think there is lot of time to prepare for exam and lose time. It is not just preparing for exams, but preparing for life’s goals. Preparing for exams late often results in shortage of time and the student underperforms. A few such incidents during student career takes away self-confidence and ambition in life and one may settle for much less than what one deserves.

Here is a story to illustrate the importance of time management.

Once upon a time there was an old weaver who had 2 sons. They lived in a village near a mountain. He was on his deathbed when he called his sons and said “I don’t think I’m going live longer. I have taught you the art of weaving, make the best use of it.” The weaver died a few days later. Both the sons were shattered. Over a period of time, they came to terms with the demise of their father. The younger son decided that he should start weaving sweaters and shawls as the tourist season was nearing. He went and told his brother that he too should start weaving so that they have enough material to sell and make money. The elder brother said “Do not worry, there is still lot of time, we can start later.” Nonetheless, the younger one started weaving. He made beautiful sweaters. After a month, he again went to his brother and reminded him that he too should start weaving soon. But again the elder brother said “Do not tell me what to do and when to do. I’m elder to you and I know things better than you!” One month before the tourist season started, the elder brother began shopping for raw materials. Then, he started weaving. His sweaters and shawls were not of good design or quality, as he did not have time to do quality work. He was just thinking about the quantity. The tourist season started. The younger brother’s shawls and sweaters were sold at a premium price. Since they were of good quality and design, all of them got sold out, whereas there were hardly any buyers for the elder brother’s material. The elder brother hence learnt his lesson the tough way.

One of the take-aways from this story is that tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. List a few more.

-Dr H S Nagaraj

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