One of the best uses of your time is to increase your competence in your key result areas. – Brain Tracy
I have heard often, “time is money”. Is it true? I don’t think so. You can observe people wasting time but not money. In my seminars, I have asked people to take out the lowest currency note from their pocket and tear it. Seldom someone has been able to do so. But when it comes to minutes and hours, you can see people wasting these lavishly and without any feeling of a loss.
Why is it so?
Simple! We have been taught right from our childhood to be very careful about money. The same caution is not exercised for time. We have been conditioned to be very conscious about money and equally carefree about time. Most people think time is unlimited and money very limited.
Taking a cue from this argument, I suggest you first work on improving your consciousness about time. It is very important for you to be aware of the concept called “Time” as much as, if not more, of the concept called “Money”. For this, it is useful to calculate the worth of your each minute. Ask yourself what is the value of each minute of yours.
I rephrase the quotation by saying, “Time is not money” but “Time productively used is convertible into money”. Yes, Time and Money can be exchanged. Therefore, take care of this current asset of yours called “Time” more than “Money”. Just remember that money lost can be earned again but time lost is forever. So, be careful of your minutes as you are for your rupees.
Be aware that you are a unique person. There is no one in the world like you. You must also know that you are very valuable. You don’t believe this! Ask yourself the value of your heart if you decide to sell it. There can’t be any value. You are priceless. Assess your value by your potential. Assess it by the contribution you can make to your life and that of others around. You have to shift your perception and attention to what you have been gifted rather than what is missing. Some find the value of their each minute by dividing their present earning by number of hours they work. Some others calculate the value of their each minute on the basis of their potential and not the present earning. Decide the potential yourself based on your competencies and opportunities around you. Remember the value of your minute by heart and be conscious of it all the time. Think of the value of your minutes spent along with money and calculate the returns on your investment in doing any activity.
Annexure1 to this book is a sheet that can help you calculate value of your minute
Where you will arrive also depends on where you are at the moment. For learning more about your status of time management, find out the pattern of use of your minutes, hours, days and weeks. How are you spending your minutes at present? It is very important for you to know your current reality of time management. Of course,the best way to live life is to enjoy time or invest it for future returns. You will, by logging your time, notice the pattern of its usage. Use a log sheet on an hourly basis to note the activities on which your last hour was spent. Find out where your minutes are going. If you take care of your minutes, hours will take care of themselves.
Annexure 2 to this book is a sheet “Time Log” for finding your current reality.
More than a century ago, Pareto enunciated a principle popularly known as 80:20. By this principle, you can estimate that eighty per cent of your time is spent on activities that produce twenty per cent of your results. Conversely, eighty per cent results come from twenty per cent of your activities. By logging, you may confirm the validity of Pareto’s principle for yourself.
I have another principle that I call 10:80:10.
I have done a bit of research and find that for most people, their ten per cent time is spent on activities that we can call High-Value (HV) activities; eighty per cent on Low-Value (LV) activities, and another ten per cent on No-Value (NV) activities. High-Value activities are those that have higher value compared to the value of minutes these take.By logging your time for a week or so and then classifying your activities as high-value, low-value, or no-value, you will get a clear picture of your current distribution of time by value.
When you find the current distribution of time by value, don’t be upset if you find that majority of your time at present is occupied by LV and NV activities. You may be working hard and not smart. This is most likely by habits and attitudes acquired over time.
There is another way to estimate value of your activities. For this, compare “life” with a “wheel”. We all know that a wheel has three important components—the hub, the spokes and the rim.
Hub of the wheel grips the axle and takes all the load of movement.We can segment the hub in three areas representing Body, Mind and Soul. These areas represent our internal world. We have direct control on these areas. Actually, these areas are three phases of one identity, call it consciousness. Like water has three phases, namely ice, water and vapour, the consciousness has these as three phases.
The rim can be segmented in three areas representing Career, Family and Society. Our interaction with the world outside takes place through these areas. Spokes are the relationships that connect the hub (Body, Mind and Soul) and the rim (Career, Family and Society).
You know that a wheel will run smooth if it is rounded and it will move long distance in fewer revolutions if it is large. It is true for the wheel of life too. Attention is required to be paid in all areas of life to balance life and be a “Fulfilled Person”. One can manage all areas of life by doing little things at the right time rather than paying a huge price when the area is out of control and damaged. So, if required time and effort is not given in each area of life at the right time, you are taking chance with your life. You may have, then, to pay a much bigger price later for this casual approach.
Annexures 3 and 4 to this book are “Classifying Time” Sheet and “Analysis” Sheet.
HOW TIME IS SPENT
Let us begin by analyzing the time consumption. The two factors that broadly influence our activities are “Timing” and “Importance”. The activities that have an appearance of demanding your immediate attention are “now”. The activities that advance you towards your goal, mission or wish are “important”.
“Now” reflects urgency. Urgency syndrome is visible and acts on you for action; it has a low patience to wait. Ring of a telephone, doorbell, a note from the superior, an accident, or a crisis are examples of stimuli that we deal with urgently. Leaving aside the projects with deadlines, very often urgent matters do not advance us towards our plans. Urgency dominates actions irrespective of the importance when goals are not clear or commitment is weak.
Since important activities usually do not appear urgent, at least initially, these need pro-active approach by taking an initiative to take responsibility (“A” choice).
There is no precise point separating “now” from “can wait” or, for that matter, “important” from “unimportant”. You can visualize a continuum having “important” on one end and “not-important” on the other. For simplifying, let us make only two segments of both “Important” and “Timing”. Consumption of our time of a day can be divided into the four combinations of “Important” and “Timing”. Let us discuss each of the four combinations.
IMPORTANT-NOW activities usually are deadlines or crises. If it is a crisis, surely the attention was not given when it was possible to wait.
Many people develop an attitude of procrastination—waiting for an appropriate time. Our education and examination system promote an attitude of doing things at the last moment.People doing “important-now” activities are very busy. Ineffective people engage in fire-fighting, causing waves and, as a result,create stress. Effective people plan and act well in advance for projects with deadlines. For most people, planning, setting and achieving goals for their body, mind, soul, family, career and society are important activities that can wait. In waiting for an appropriate time later, they create crises.
IMPORTANT-CAN WAIT activities need pro-active approach and initiative that comes through clarity of goals or mission. There are all reasons for calling this as success combination. People engaged in important-can wait activities are busy too but with a difference.
They are busy in planning, executing the plans, relation building, re-creating and spending time on high-value tasks. These people are busy but with peace of mind.
NOW-NOT IMPORTANT activities are to be done now but do not advance your goals. Usually, people doing these activities are under the impression that they are into important things. What will others think, say or do, dominates actions under our cultural conditioning. Remember, activities advancing the goal of someone else may not necessarily be important for you.
The other major reason why people stay in this combination is that they lack the power of saying “no”. Usually, it is the absence of clarity of their mission or goals that make people say “yes” to notimportant activities. They derive satisfaction of pleasing others at their own cost. They keep saying “yes” to others and, in doing so,keep saying “no” to themselves.
CAN WAIT-NOT IMPORTANT activities are a sure sign of failure. Many people, give in to their habits and watch TV or listen to radio or read newspapers or engage into conversation without a clearly defined objective. Such people don’t realize that once past, time will not come back. Studies reveal that those who engage more in now and important fire-fighting tasks, generally find an excuse in these activities as recreation. Question is: How can anyone having wishes and dreams, mission and goals, spend even a minute on such activities? Obviously, one major reason people engage in notimportant and not-urgent activities is unclear purpose of living life and absence of long- or short-term goals. The other reason is absence of the commitment required to achieve their dreams. Successful people, on the other hand, make conscious efforts to stay away from these. They know that to engage in activities that can wait and are not important is an act of insanity.
It is very useful to make a time-table for you. Yes, a Time-Table for 24 × 7. For greater success and effectiveness, you must add more of HV activities in each area of your life. Remember, HV activities are those which advance you towards your goals.
For those who are in job situation, one source of adding activities is the work that your supervisor is doing. After all, most of the people doing jobs seek higher positions. Give your supervisor a helping hand by doing their LV tasks.
If you are your own boss, add tasks which you would be doing when you grow out of your present position and have higher responsibilities. Would you like to add different tasks in your menu next year? What would those be? Can you start learning or doing these now by choice? All such activities are your HV ones.When you add more of HV activities into your day, you will need more minutes or hours for your day. You may think that rather than reducing, I am asking you to add activities. You are in need of more hours and I am asking you to add activities!
This is the easiest way that can improve your time management and success. The logic is simple. Once you have added more HV activities into your schedule, you will have a pressure on your workhours. You will, then, have to make a choice of either increasing the hours or reducing some of the activities that qualify to be termed as LV. I don’t recommend the first choice as it is likely to unbalance your wheel of life. What I do recommend is that at this point of time,you do away with your LV or NV activities from your schedule.
Remember habits die hard. Your rationalization may fool you to justify what you are doing at present. Challenge yourself, think of your God-given potential and look at your goals. Work continuously towards delegating the LV activities. Delete your NV activities. I must add a word of caution here. Don’t delegate your LV or delete NV activities before incorporating HV activities into your schedule. If you do so, you may reduce your work capacity by doing less in more time. Be careful about it. Be alert. You can’t open the tap of time but you can stop minor leakages.
A pot gets empty by deliberate kicking as also by a minor crack in it.It is the latter that you don’t realize consciously. You cannot get extra minutes in a day, they are fixed. You can only use the available minutes such that you move towards success and fulfillment.
One thing everyday you can do is “Stop Wasting”. If you get up early by 30 minutes and sleep late by 30 minutes and stop wasting time on trivial things, do you know how much it amounts in a year. Amazing! two months, of twenty-two days, of eight hours a workday. Think how much it can add to your performance and success!
TIME AND TIMING
You have to realize that clarity of the three components is absolutely essential for spending time resource on activities that can enhance your success. These are:
Adequacy (means “how much”. This is time measured in minutes or hours).
Appropriateness (means timing or otherwise said as to “when” will you do the activity).
Activity (means on “what”).
Judicious combination of these three components only can give you effectiveness that will improve your productivity, results and success.
The only factor that can determine your effectiveness is not the amount of time spent but also whether it was at the appropriate moment or not. This needs study and analysis of the time spent on each activity and then making decision as to “how long” and “when”. If you consciously don’t do so, by habit, you will engage into what you have been doing. Effectiveness is enhanced by knowing “what” and “when” and for “how long”. Just remember that how we spend our time determines the quality of our life.