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Sunday, November 07, 2004

management of time

Time is a very slippery character.

We have heard umpteen numbers of times that time and tide wait for no one. When one is in sorrow, it is customary for us to console him by saying ‘time is a great healer’. The time machine conceived by H G Wells had the ability to transport us from one era to another. We try to squeeze out of tight situations by saying ‘there is a time and place for everything’. And, of course, in India time bound programs always exceed the boundaries of acceptance limits leading to cost over runs and revision of estimates – a project initially sanctioned for a certain amount of money finally gets completed for ten times that amount.

It happens only in India.

Time is an entity available to each and every one of us in abundance, be he a prince or a pauper. It is completely free of cost and obligations. There are no hidden strings attached! A day has 24 hours out of which at least 8 hours are earmarked for attending to regular work that result in monetary gains. These need to be recycled back in to the system to fulfill the basic needs of life – roti, kapda and makaan! The balance 16 hours is at our disposal to be spent as we wish. A lot has been written on how best to manage this mercurial element called time – no one seems to have enough of it. Seminars are held, books are published, experiences are exchanged but there does not appear to be any solution in sight to this perennial problem.

Take a simple activity like going to office.

If you are using your personal transport, you would normally do a couple of things before leaving – check the tyre pressure, fuel availability, serviceability of indication lamps, horn etc.. In spite of these precautions, when you are half way, suddenly one of your cable snaps or the air hisses out of your tyre. You are stuck with a genuine problem, no doubt, that will disturb your beautifully worked out schedule of the day. A similar situation may arise when you are leaving town either on business or for pleasure. You have to take a long distance bus or use the services of the railways or depend on an airline. Here also something unexpected might happen. A probable solution in such cases would be to leave a bit early.

Once you arrive at office and settle down to work, you have the day’s schedule in front of you. Your planning appears to be perfect – you have allotted time slots for individual activities. Suddenly, you are disturbed - Boss is on the line. He takes up some of your time. By the time you return to normal, your friend is on the line – long distance. He just called to say ‘hello’ and exchange pleasantries! Some more of your time goes in the unplanned bracket. There could be disturbances of unruly staff, adamant subordinates, and friends in need of advice or consolation. Therefore, your schedule for the day must take into account all such situations. Obviously, out of the eight hours, an able administrator of time would plan a certain portion as non productive. Those who fail to do this have to overstay in the office and, occasionally, carry office work back home!

Why do we fail to recognize the value of time and acquire the ability to manage time? After all, this ability is what efficiency is all about – it differentiates the achievers from the also-rans. We have not learnt to respect time. We love to arrive at functions much after the scheduled start – is it to get noticed? We enjoy waiting for the bus or train to arrive – is this not most unfortunate?

We aim to become Super powers in this part of the world, our leaders are trying their level best to become permanent members of the United Nations – but we do not believe in setting examples.


  • At 5:13 AM, Blogger gayathrigowri said…

    Well said.
    Came across in the Fast Track program in BBC that in Japan the bullet trains driver cant be late even by a minute.
    Imagine the difference punctuality can make. By being punctual, one not only respects others time, but also our time.
    And in a way life is all about time.
    And when we manage time, we manage life


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