The Tao Of Time

Manage your time as you manage your money

Manage your time as you manage your money
Manage your time as you manage your money

Do you know how a 70-year life span is spent? On an average, 25 years in sleep, 8 years in study and education, 6 years in rest and illness, 7 years in holidays amd recreation, 5 years in commuting, 4 years in eating and 3 years in transition, i.e. getting ready to do all the above activities.

That leaves only 12 years for effective work. Charles Schwab, an American millionaire, paid a consultant 25,000 dollars in 1936 to advice: “Start your day with a ‘To Do’ list and prioritise the vital few after picking them from the trivial many.”

Now, having realised this, you can manage your time better. Once you start doing this, you will begin to enjoy it.

To get an idea of better time-management methods, read and observe your smiling colleagues. You may learn the following from the ones who manage their time well:

  1. Arrange things in your office in such a manner that if you want a thing, you can get it fast.
  2. Use the checklist yourself and insist that everyone who reports to you also uses it.
  3. Discourage frequent interruptions. Do not let others interrupt you often or do the same to others. Once, I saw a boss who called in his secretary 26 times during the day. You can imagine the output of the poor secretary.

Very often, we spend more time on things which we like and not on those things which have to be done. Have you heard of Parker’s principle?

This was the outcome of Jim Parker’s three decades of experience while selling Ford tractors in Africa, Asia, Australia and India. It was prompted by a small incident, similar to the kind of thing that happens almost daily in our lives.

There was a consignment of road rollers, which was sent by rail to Patna. The Head Office instructed the resident representative to ensure that the consignment was delivered on the day of arrrival to avoid demurrage charges. And the representative did exactly that. On the eighteenth day, the consignment arrived and was taken care of. But when his monthly performance was reviewed in the Area Reps’ meeting, the representative mentioned that he went to the station daily to find out about the consignment. He was there in Patna every day for 18 days. He could have easily toured the nearby towns and deputed an assistant to do the daily checking. But, no, he wanted to be in Patna, probably to be with his family, and therefore found a perfect alibi “to do what he liked to do and not what should have been done.” He was just not bothered about managing his time.

If you want to manage your time effectively, first of all, find out where your time actually goes.

Ask your secretary and your assistant to clock you for six days and compare the analysis with what you should be doing.

Know Your Time-Stealers — six of them! Maybe, they are:

  1. Frequent meetings … there is no agenda!
  2. Not to be prepared for a meeting.
  3. Too many interruptions to others and yourself.
  4. Not giving detailed instructions to your people.
  5. Not taking timely decisions.
  6. Statistics collection … too much is not good.

Know Your Time-Savers — six of them! Maybe, they are:

  1. Getting up early and going to bed late! You do not need more than six hours of sleep.
  2. Have your own vehicle. Even if you have to give your car to your pampered wife and children, use a good motorcycle yourself.
  3. Cut social functions where your substitute will be equally good and no one will miss you.
  4. Always think of the telephone first. Install an intercom. Use telegrams, fax messages, E-mail, etc.
  5. Listen to your wife.first do what she says. Avoid her nagging.
  6. Listen to your boss. Do what he says.

In training courses, I drive home the point by asking the participants to take out Rs. 100 notes. A few do so quickly. I ask them to tear their respective notes into two. Everyone looks at me. No one does it. At this moment, I tear mine into two portions. Everyone looks at me as if I have done something wrong or illegal. At this time, I explain to them that we are so concerned about a torn note, which can be exchanged at a bank, but do not give the same thought when it comes to wasting our time, talking or doing things inefficiently.

God has given 24 hours to everyone … to you, to me and to everyone else. Then how is it that you find some always in a hurry, some always having plenty of time (and thus being lazy!) and some relaxed and serene?

It is a common phenomenon in offices. You ask your colleague to do something and just when you are expecting the results, you discover that he has been at something else just because he liked doing that and did not do what should have been done.

Why do individuals behave so? Maybe it is an integral part of human nature.

How can we motivate someone in such cases? Money is not the answer. Don’t just tell the individual about the activity. Show him the goal that it will help in achieving so that he not only knows the force that he has to apply but also the direction in which he has to apply it.

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