“Time is money”; “Time’s wasting”; “Time and tide wait for no man” – God knows there are enough sayings about time, which is considered the single most useful resource available to mankind. But, how many of us think enough about the “limitedness” of this valuable resource, because really, each one of us has a limited number of hours in our lifetime, here, as we know it. If we do give the “limitedness” of time a bit of thought, how would we choose to spend our time? Of course, we all can’t spend most of our days at the beach – there’s that little matter of “making a living” to think of, but, how about apportioning a due bit of time to all the things that are important in our lives? To do this, we must first make efficient use of our time – use each moment, conduct each task in a manner that optimally uses our time.
So, what are some of our common behavioural patterns that come in the way of proper time management or optimal usage of time – particularly in a work environment, and how can we overcome these?
Going-with- the-Flow v/s Planning & Scheduling: According to Wikipedia, “time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity”. By its very definition, “time management” involves consciously planning and scheduling for activities. Among the various sayings about time, one tongue-in-cheek one that stands out is “If you want a job to be done, go to a busy man – an idle man will never find the time”! So, remember to plan and schedule, and you’ll probably have time to do everything you need to.
Undertaking Random Tasks v/s Prioritising: It’s very tempting to pick up tasks that are easy or those that one enjoys, first – much like a school-student who loves English over Chemistry and somehow never gets to the latter, and exhibits grades that are ever-ascending in the former and ever-descending in the latter! On the other hand, with great thrashings from a parent, the same child may stop studying English altogether, concentrate only on Chemistry, and go on to procure average grades in both. The best approach would be to start with Chemistry while one is fresh and not run-out on mental faculties, to dedicate more time to Chemistry, but to dedicate a good amount of time to English as well, and every other subject in the continuum.
In a corporate environment, whether one enjoys a task or not, urgent jobs must be done first. A good technique is to apportion a major chuck of time to urgent tasks, as well as a fair amount of time to other important tasks, so that slowly but surely, there are very few tasks that require urgent attention. One must not forget to also allocate some time to rest, relaxation, meals, exercise and time spent with loved ones every day. If one does not nourish the body and spirit properly, they will not be able to carry one very far for too long.
Daily Struggles with Routine Stumbling-Blocks v/s Creating an Environment Conducive to Efficiency: If the task you have set for yourself is to walk on the treadmill during lunch-hour, but that’s just the time your wife cooks your doctor-prescribed healthy meals in the electric oven, and your electricity gets cut-off every other day with the excess load, there’s hardly any point to plan your routine that way! Efficiency jumps manifold when you are able to sort out the common stumbling-blocks you face with your planning and implementation processes. Do an audit of issues by having a candid talk with your staff, get the bottlenecks out and you will see efficiency increase automatically.
Assigning Tasks Randomly v/s Proper Talent Management: Many organisations, particularly smaller or family-run ones, are notorious for jobbing assignments to literally the closest person around at the time! When a task is assigned to a person not befitting it, it should not be surprising at all if it is carried out in twice the time and with half the precision and outcome. Proper talent management involves knowing the strengths of your manpower and assigning job roles with great attention to them.
Time-Wise Open-Ended Tasks v/s Inculcating a Culture of Deadlines and an Adherence to Them: In any organisation, or even within families for that matter – there are all types of personalities. Some of the “type Bs” might be a little too laid-back to bother with speeding up their activities and watching the clock, while some “type As” may go along at a pace that’s so fast, they will show signs of burnout sooner or later. Ideally, the former requires a push, and the latter requires a signal to slow down a bit. Ironically, time-bound deadlines work just as well for both!
Only you will be able to figure out how to pack more punch into your time and increase efficiency in everything you do. Remember, doing even the simplest of tasks efficiently, will free up a lot of time for you. The most important step is to realise and keep reminding yourself that the more efficiently you use your time, the more time you will have freed up to get on with your “to-do” list. If you begin to “value” your own time, you will distance yourself from habits that do not add any value to your time. Moving away from common modern-day addictions like computer games that get you nowhere, and “saas-bahu dramas” that mess with your innate disposition and relationships, for example, would be a good start!