How important is time?
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How important is time?

By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC

To realise the value of ten years, Ask a newly-divorced couple.

To realise the value of four years, Ask a graduate.

To realise the value of one year, Ask a student who has failed the final exam.

To realise the value of nine months, Ask a mother who gave birth to a still-born.

To realise the value of one month, Ask a mother who has had a premature baby.

To realise the value of one week, Ask an editor of a weekly magazine.

To realise the value of one minute, Ask a person who has missed the bus or train or a plane.

To realise the value of a second, Ask a person who has survived an accident. Time waits for no one, eternal truth.

Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day. And ironically we sleep away nearly 8 hours out of that 24. So with only 16 hours left in a day, some time-planning is required. What is time management?  In simple terms, time management is firstly getting to know how much time one has and then to organise one’s activities to ensure  one is able to finish the task in hand. But it has to be done using  right steps  to ensure that one is able to finish the task on time. One has to prioritise to give more time to important tasks rather than wasting time doing unimportant things.  Time management is no rocket science but a cultivated discipline.

One of the most important  but relevant question often asked “Why” do we require time management? Yes, you may have all the skills required for a particular job but with no knowledge of time management, you will not succeed. Let us now go into some detailing on the subject of “why” we require time management.

  1. Time is precious: 24 hours a day is what is available. With all the resources, can Ambani get an extra hour in a day? Of course, not. Only 16 hours are available in a day for one to do his/her tasks. Some are organised and are able to do a task in hand competently and in time but some lag behind. A minute lost is lost forever. You cannot  retrieve or restore the time lost.
  2. Efficiency: If one learns to manage time efficiently, then one can do multi-tasking. Corporates in India have a habit of forcing their employees to work late, much more than the stipulated 9 hours. It is ironical, corporates feel that an employee who is working long hours is efficient which is not true. The employees on their part linger on, have tea, gossip and pass time and finish their task leisurely. In a conference of “Standard Chartered Bank,” the Chairman of the Bank told his vps and General Managers bluntly that if they we returning home late, it showed how inefficient they were and not the other way round. With better organisation, one can do things faster, better and in time too.
  3. Decision-making: Since one is able to do his or her task in time, there is less pressure to do things in a hurry and taking wrong decisions. One has time to analyse and take correct decisions.
  4. Prioritising: Once one gets into the mode of time management, one learns to prioritise the work as to their  importance. This helps in our real time lives also. US President Dwight Eisenhower designed a decision- making method in which tasks were delegated using the criteria of “important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent. The last two category of unimportant and unurgent papers were either delegated or filed and he only personally handled the first two category that was important and urgent. The idea was to set the priorities  right.
  5. Focus: There are lots of distractions like smart-phones and computers. It is important to remain focussed and time management teaches you that  skill. With time allocated on your right activities, you remain on track to do your jobs on time and efficiently.
  6. Effective decisions: Time management ensures that you start taking effective decisions, which in turn opens up new opportunities. Once you know how to manage time, self-discipline comes in automatically. With spare time available, one can think of doing things one always wanted to do. More time for leisure or relaxation, so better health. One can also plan out a holiday with the family and spend some more quality time with friends and so develop new relationships.
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An old saying “Tomorrow never comes” so true. We always tend to put off for the next day so many tasks which we have to do  today on some pretext or the other. Why? Lack of basic discipline. Once you start practicing time management, this lazy habit will automatically  vanish.  Nobody realises but putting off decisions sometimes change it for better or worse.

To conclude, I would like to narrate an anecdote told by Sri Ravishankar Guruji in one of his lectures. On a tour of Europe Guruji was woken up by about 2 am in the morning by an old lady with a huge cheque to be given as donation. He was puzzled as to why this lady did not give the same in the morning.  When quizzed, the lady in turn told  the Guruji a simple story.

A rich man was travelling by boat  across a huge river when it developed a leak and started to sink. He  panicked and  told the boat man, “I will give you half my property if you take me ashore alive.” The boatman made all efforts and slowly but steadily rowed the boat to the shore all the time clearing the water from the leaking boat. When the rich man could see the shore, he told the boat man, “Now, I will give you only about 50,000 dollars, if  I can reach the shore.” As the boat started to come near the shore, the amount of the compensation started to reduce and as the boat reached the shore the rich man quietly gave the boat man a hundred dollars and vanished. The lady told the Guruji, “Sir, if I had waited till morning to give this cheque, it is possible I might have changed my mind with “time.” And that is the reason I have taken the trouble of waking you up at this unearthly hour. What is the moral of this story ? If a task is to be done today, do not postpone it, one never knows with time, anything can change.

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But you can learn to manage time. Do you agree?

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June 22, 2017

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