Master time



November 2015

By Jamuna Rangachari

When we decide to make the best use of our time we automatically prioritize, plan, delegate, and avoid activities that kill time, says Jamuna Rangachari

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In my younger days, we lived in a joint family where we all slept on the floor. The last person to get up had to make sure the mattresses were stacked up one on top of the other. Everyday there would be a scuffle to escape being the last. I, personally, made sure I was among the first to get up, fold my sheet, and leave the room. This was my first lesson in time management.

Later, when I was in college, elders used to keep advising me not to ‘waste time’. Wasting time for them meant reading, watching movies, or even socializing. I did not relate to this at all. Even at that time, I found that I did much better when I had many things to do. For instance, when I had to watch a movie, I quickly completed my chores and ran out to catch the film. When there was a friend’s wedding, I would make sure all my assignments were done much before the event so no one could pull me up.

Much later, after I entered software programming, there were a lot of technical discussions on time management. We were told to read about it in books, use an electronic or paper-based day planner to organize, prioritize and schedule our days. Learning all these techniques took more of my time than saving it. In my case, everything that I ever learned about managing time through books or seminars has been a complete waste of time .

I had, and still have, my own way of ensuring that I make the best use of my time. I know that time management is the most crucial aspect of doing a good job.

What is time management?

Before we can even begin to manage time, you must learn what time is. A dictionary defines time as ‘the point or period at which things occur.’ Simply put, time is when things happen.

There are two types of time: clock time and real time. In clock time, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. All time passes equally. When someone turns 50, they are exactly 50 years old, no more or no less.

In real time, all time is relative. Time flies or drags depending on what you’re doing. Ten minutes at a traffic jam can feel like one year. Watching your child grow can make 12 years seem like an hour.

The reason time management gadgets and systems don’t work is that these systems are designed to manage clock time. We live in real time, a world in which all time flies when we are having fun and doing what we wish to do.

The good news is that real time exists. We create it. This does not mean clock time can be ignored. It has to be kept in mind too, because it is in managing it that we get more of real time.

Manage your time

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Plan

In the beginning of each day or even in the middle of the day, it helps if we evaluate what we need to do and what we may avoid if time is a factor.

For instance, when the children were growing up and I was working, I used to plan meals, tiffin boxes and things needed to be done the next morning in advance to avoid delays and confusion in the morning. My major activity in the morning used to be to ensure that the plan gets followed.

Similarly, for activities that must be completed at the work place, I make sure I have a personal plan for it.

Prioritize

For this, it helps if we note down either in a note pad or in a personal document all that needs to be done. Some things are obvious but some are minor points that can create havoc if not taken note of. I make note of all the activities that I must do to ensure that they do not get postponed.

Never compromise on quality

If we do a haphazard job, we will have to redo it, and waste our and others’ time too. Personally, I had often compromised on this aspect, but am learning to take this seriously. Delegate

We cannot do everything. We need to delegate it to the right person and then follow up to ensure the task is done.

Remember things we would like to do

Apart from the things that we ‘have’ to do, there are always aspects we would ‘like’ to do. I ensure that they get done whenever there is a spare window of time.

For instance, I make sure I always remember the people I would like to meet. Whenever possible, I meet them when I am in that part of town. This way, something like shopping becomes productive to me and not just a chore.

Fulfilling little dreams

This is a kind of a ‘bucket list’ of activities that I may do someday, if and when time and place permits. This is not necessary but it is amazing how life conspires to make these come true as long as we remember them and allot time for them. For instance, I had always wished to go to a langar in the local gurudwara. The moment I had a day free, I made sure I went there with my erstwhile maid, bonding with her as well in the process.

Things to avoid

Avoid activities that suck your time such as the following:

Making commitments

When we commit something, we must deliver. Over-commitment will stress us out, and people will lose trust in us if we fail to deliver.

Being helpful

Being in the naval community, there are often situations where people need a helping hand to settle down. This could be something as simple as making a meal or as time-consuming as taking care of a child for a few days. Though I have tried to be helpful to others, I do not promise anything until I know I can spare the time for it. When I cannot, I try to find a solution that is a win-win for them and me.

Uninteresting activities

There are many invitations we receive for events and parties that may or may not interest us. Here again, I do not accept unless I have the time and interest.

Useless communication

While chatting with friends and family is healthy, too much of it eats into our time. Allocate specific time for these activities. I allot half a day every week for this.

Getting into arguments

Though we may not realise it, arguments are not just stressful and a challenge to our relationships but also eat into our time.

Do not procrastinate

Procrastination is putting off impending tasks until they cannot be avoided anymore. In my case, I do the exact opposite. I dispense with routine tasks that I don’t like as soon as possible, so that I can do the ones I like comfortably.

It is only when we realize our time is precious that we use it well. We can then use our time to create our life all the time, slowly but steadily. After all, anything that we create, we can manage. It’s time to remove any idea of ‘not having enough time,’ or today not being ‘the right time’ to create the life that we want. Again, like life, time management too is a process. We need to work on it always to create the life we want.

 

About the author : Jamuna Rangachari is a writer who has authored three books for children, and compiled and interpreted Teaching Stories-I and II for Life Positive.

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