Time is short; I do not have time; at some other time please, do this first; better move now; it is now or never; it is all matter of timings son; make hay while the sun shines; and last of all a stitch in time saves nine.
Whether you are a baby in a cradle, a president of a country or any where in between; you are in grip with time, all the time. Either she is running out, you are running after or you have just made it. As I address this topic, as dear as time by implication I also deal with the stress. However, the focus would be on Time Management (TM), exclusively.
M is a multi-dimensional subject. It is as close to life management as it is to feeding a baby in time. It is a subset of project management, of PERT, allocation, of resources, setting goals and priorities, delegation, monitoring, quality control, supply chain management, scheduling, organizing and even time-on-target TOT). Whatever is the level, in any of the aforesaid disciplines and subjects. TM can be defined in couple of ways:
a. TM system is a designed combination of processes, tools and techniques.
Here is a diametrically opposite stand point:
b. It is management of our selves and our activities in a given time.
c. It is learning and practicing the efficient use of most equally distributed resource; called Time.
d. I should quote from Him: 103 Quran
“By (the token of) Time (through ages),(Translation by AYA) by the declining day, verily man is in loss, save those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance, by M M Pickthal
he Approach to TM by Generations. There is a long history of tools, methods and techniques on TM. A set of four generations have been identified (S R Covey). Going by the dictates of objectivity and space available here, I have summarized all four here in a paragraph. Starting from reminders based on clocks, watches and computers it has travelled to calendars and appointment diaries, weekly and monthly planners, and multiple type of helps in goal setting. Next was use of computers; especially PDA; all helped in planning prioritizing and monitoring. The most finished form, and 4th generation approach is efficient and proactive use of any one or a combination of the aforementioned methods. Primarily it was to prefer importance over urgency.
ersonal Time Management (PTM); it is another related concept. It has a lot to do with the concept of self identity. How do you identify yourself? Or which part of ones identity supersedes all the rest. It must be accepted that identities are multiple. Which of the identity enjoy top slot bears deep influence on ones life. Are you a muslim first or a syed first? Are you a Pakistani first or a Sindhi or Blochi first? Are you a banker first or a good citizen first? Are you a police officer first or choudhry or malik first? Are you Doggar first or chief justice first? The question of identity can easily turn into the crisis of identity. I can refer to my articles placed on following website, www.thinkersforumpakistan.org. You may carry out further study under this topic.
esistors and Driver. As the name suggests, there are some resistors to change, however, fortunately there are equally strong pushers and movers as well. It is imperative for a committed and sincere effort to understand both. We must identify these to precede further; first the resistors.
A number of psycho-socio-economic factors act as resistors to learn and change our approach towards TM. For every person the weightage and quantification of these resistors would be different, while staying within a broad norm for a cultural background. Here is a brief account of four of these.
a. Customs and Traditions. These are the cultural moorings, bindings, shackles and traps. These tend to shape the lives of the individuals and the society into a pattern, or a value system. The priorities of lives are almost destined by these traditions and customs. These customs and traditions where converge to make a nexus with personal interests, develop into a deadly trap. Vanni, Karokari and Satti of Hindu history; are some examples. The element of valence decides what is to be done first and what should be put on a back burner. Pakistanis for instance perform Hajj after marrying their children and may be after building a house. Indonesians and Malaysians go for Hajj just after their own marriage. Wasting time on marriages and delaying by design could be some more examples.
b. Fear of change. People all over the world fear and resist change. Let me use a milder world, in order not to annoy the minority of brave ones. People are generally apprehensive of change. Age; growing age is one factor, which tends to reinforce tendency of status quo. The fear of change can be minimized through education. In fact it should be a qualifying test of an objective and purposeful education. The education must bring about change.
c. Uncertainty. Even when change is inevitable, uncertainty does not let many, change. To be certain or to be sure is a killer of creativity. “Creativity can be described as the letting go of certainty”, Gail Sheehy.
Learning to manage time, one must enjoy a level of uncertainty, rather fearing it.
d. Time Pressure. To save time one has to invest time. One curse of modern times is pressure of time. For a large majority of work force in modern companies and industry, finding time to invest is a rarity. Even if it is for saving time. Excessive automation, mechanization and adherence to standing operating procedures have taken away all the time. So nothing is left to invest somewhere else. Preparing to change and for learning to do something new will surely demand some extra time, to start with.
rivers. All types of competitions, all inventions, all discoveries and all persistently improving gadgetry owe them to drivers. Drivers are the prime movers for change. The pushers, ask the person to look for a new day every morning and see a new dream after every sunset. Here are some of these: -
a. Increased Effectiveness. Saving on time is like saving on gas in a car race where there is no refill. A bit of extra time at ones disposal may provide for that little edge, called success. Think of a sprinter in a hundred meter race.
b. Performance Improvement. TM is one of the biggest force-multiplier in improving the performance. Those who wish to improve performance learn to utilize the time differently than the way they did yesterday, and the way competitors are doing.
c. Increased Responsibility. A promotion would mean increased responsibilities. It would imply more work, either by nature or quantity. While the numbers of hours per day remain unchanged, enhanced responsibilities push the people to learn better TM.
anaging Priorities. We are now ready to learn some methods, techniques and simple drills for setting and resetting priorities. Following are five of these.
a. ABC Priorities. ABC priorities are known after its advocate Alan Lakein. It is a simple exercise in categorization of a list of tasks or a to-do-list. ABC could be used as generic names; say: -
A for monthly tasks.
B for weekly tasks.
C for daily tasks, or
A for important and urgent ones,
B for urgent but not important ones,
C for neither important nor urgent ones.
b. Pareto Analysis. It is also called eighty/twenty rule (80/20 rule). A simple explanation runs as follows. Twenty percent of tasks might be eating away eighty percent of time. By doing just twenty percent extra one could gain by eighty percent. Twenty percent of TV programs are watched by eighty percent of population. By spending rupees twenty on finish, wrapper and packing the price can be raised by rupees one hundred. It is a matter of understanding and consequently changing the time allocation or priority of the task or a range of activities.
c. Fit. It is compatibility, level of homogeneity or the degree to which various activities can co-exist. It is learning to know what fits where. Should the two ends of the day be kept for planning, review, family time, worship and health maintenance drills. The answer is yes.
d. POSEC. May it sound like an acronym. It stands for Prioritizing through Organizing, Streamlining and Economizing by Contributing. A few words about each phrase.
(1) Prioritize. What comes first? How to give an order to various fifteen tasks, populating the to-do-list. A lot depends on how you identify yourself. What is important for you and what do you rate worthless. Where do you place objectivity with reference to subjectivity.
(2) Organize. Correlating time with priorities and going for delegation would mean organizing. Organising could also mean a place for everything and everything in its place. Remember one can delegate authority but not the responsibility.
(3) Streamlining. Organising would help streamlining, as for the structure is concerned. Answers to When, where and how to…would do the rest. Streamlining would mean making the process smooth and dove-tailed.
(4) Economizing. Another word for economizing is ‘efficient’. When consumption of resources for a given result is reduced; it is being efficient. Resources include, man, material, money, methods and time. And finally,
(5) Contributing. It is TM or management of activities in a given time by an incremental approach. It is doing or adding bit by bit; and every bit by its appropriate time and in its proper place. One can stretch this concept to any limit by its application. Review payment of installments for the life policy at one end and offering swllat five times a day every day at the other end of the same continuum.
e. Eisenhower Method. This method is famous by this victorious General of World War II, who became President of America, later. He used to use this method, it is said. He made four quadrants to sort out his tasks by importance and urgency. Diagram below shows some examples, to highlight its usage.
Imp & Urgent
• Response to audit objections
• Marriage of younger sister ,
• Deposit target
Un-Imp but Urgent
• Can send PA to deliver the letter
in next one hour.
• Wife can attend marriage
ceremony this evening.
He would delete all what was not neither important nor urgent. He also said, “It is seldom that what was important was not urgent …”.
rocrastination is a wide spread malice. Sometimes it is known, sometimes undetected and at times it affects only specific areas. One can say it is the worst form of misuse of His time. Detailed write up how to identify and defeat procrastination is being deferred for now.
oving towards the last part of this article, I will present now, 11 Tips on TM, taken from the works of Susan Ward.
a. No.1. Realize that TM is a myth
No matter how organised we are, there are only 24 hours and we can not increase the number of hours but the rest of the parameters. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do in the given time.
b. No.2. Find out where your are wasting time
Many of us are prey to time wasters. They steal away our time. What are your time-wasters? Search and identify these. Hope you are not in love with these. Do you spend too much time 'Net surfing, reading email, or making personal calls? Tracking Daily Activities explains how to track your activities so you can form an accurate picture of what you actually do. This is the first step to effective TM.
c. No.3. Create TM goals
Remember the focus of TM is actually changing your behavior and not changing the time. A good place to start is by eliminating your personal time-wasters. For one week, for example, set a goal that you are not going to take personal phone calls while you are working. Or you will not read newspaper while in office.
d. No.4. Implement a TM plan
Think of this as an extension of TM tip # 3. The objective is to change your behaviors over time to achieve whatever general goal you have set for yourself, such as increasing your productivity or decreasing your stress. So you need to, not only set your specific goals, but track them over time to see whether or not you are accomplishing these.
e. No.5. Use time management tool
Whether it is a Day-Timer or a software program, the first step to physically managing your time is to know where it is going now. And how you are going to spend your time in the future. A software program such as Outlook, for instance, lets you schedule events easily and can be set to remind you of events in advance, making your TM easier.
f. No.6. Prioritize ruthlessly
You should start each day with a TM session, prioritizing the tasks for that day and setting your performance benchmark. If you have 20 tasks for a given day, how many of them do you truly need to accomplish?
g. No.7. Learn to delegate and, or outsource
There is no need for you to be a one-person show. For effective TM, you need to let other people carry some of the load. Determining Your Personal ROI explains two ways to pinpoint which tasks you'd be better off, delegating or outsourcing, while Decide To Delegate provides tips for actually getting on with the job of delegating.
h. No.8. Establish routines and stick to them as much as possible
While crises will arise, you will be much more productive if you can follow routines most of the time.
i. No.9. Get in the habit of setting time limits for tasks
For instance, reading and answering email can consume your whole day if you let it. Instead, set a limit of one hour a day for this task and stick to it. Do not play cards more than four hours a week or no more than eight hours a week on the golf course.
j. No.10. Be sure your systems are organized
Are you wasting a lot of time looking for files on your computer? Take the time to organize a file management system. Is your filing system slowing you down? Redo it, so it is organized to the point that you can quickly lay your hands on what you need.
k. No.11. Do not waste time waiting
From client meetings to dentist appointments, it is impossible to avoid waiting for someone or something. But you do not need to just…Always take something to do with you, such as a report you need to read. Carry your notebook to plan your next marketing campaign. Get down deleting all unwanted messages from your cell phone. Technology makes it easy to work wherever you are…
onclusion. My dear reader it was a journey through a lesson on TM. May be it was a lesson of life for the life. I will recommend, first know yourself. Be a ‘man’, His number two, who can do anything with his efforts and His will. Have faith in your abilities and Him rewarding you. Next step should be to explore, how good your TM is. Based on the knowledge of this datum point, thus established, proceed to refine your prioritization, and in turn management of your activities. Get over with procrastination, if it happens to undermine you. Identify your resistors. May be you love some of these as your very dear habbits. And same are the chokers. Proceed to review all tools, methods, techniques and the tips. Evaluate and narrow down the choice; to one or a potpourri of these, which will suite your goals. Goals are primarily of two types; One, to set the priorities right. This in turn implies placing first, second third…what should be first second or…in the life; the life which you wish to lead. Second goal, is to allocate right amount of time for monitoring and effective streamlining through economizing, fit and contributing.
Step out; wishing you Godspeed, it is time!
1. An advocate of ABC prioritization, Alan Lakein
2. Do it Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time by Mark Forster
3. The Ultra Simple Guide to Time Management
4. First Thing First by S R Covey
5. Understanding SMART goal setting, Locke’s Goal Setting Theory
6. Works of Prof Clarry Lay, on procrastination
7. (Animal Studies) by Walter Cannon and Hans Selye
8. Studies by Richard Rahe, leading to Holmes and Rahe Stress Scales
9. Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman (1984)
10. Pomodoro Technique
11. Advanced Business Resources-Training that Works. Knowledge you can use
12. Mind Management Training from Mind Tools
14. Preventive Stress Management in Organizations by James Campbell Quick
15. Dictionary of Human Resource and Personnel Management
16. Wikipedia encyclopedia, articles on time and stress management
How Good is Your Time Management?
Your Name, please:
Instructions: Tick-mark the column you feel most appropriate to represent what you actually do.
at all Rarely Some
times Often Very
1 Are the tasks you work on during the day the ones with the highest priority?
2 Do you find yourself completing tasks at the last minute, or asking for extensions?
3 Do you set aside time for planning and scheduling?
4 Do you know how much time you are spending on the various jobs you do?
5 How often do you find yourself dealing with interruptions?
6 Do you use goal setting to decide what tasks and activities you should work on?
7 Do you leave contingency time in your schedule to deal with "the unexpected"?
8 Do you know whether the tasks you are working on are high, medium, or low value?
9 When you are given a new assignment, do you analyze it for importance and prioritize it accordingly?
10 Are you stressed about deadlines and commitments?
11 Do distractions often keep you from working on critical tasks?
12 Do you find you have to take work home, in order to get it done?
13 Do you prioritize your “To Do” list or Action Program?
14 Do you regularly confirm your priorities with your boss?
15 Before you take on a task, do you check that the results will be worth the time put in?
Total up the score of tick-marks under each column.
Factor 1 2 3 4 5
Multiply with the score in each column with the factor above, and insert the resultant.
Add up the score in above columns. Insert grand total in the box here.
46 - 75 You are managing your time very efficiently.
31 -45 You are good a few things, however, there is room for improvement. Focus on the serious issues; it is likely that work will become much less stressful.
15 - 30 A great deal can be improved. This is the good news. Some fundamentals are required to be learnt.