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 stich 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).
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 and organizing. 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 for 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 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 above methods. 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, 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? 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 effort to understand both. We must identify these to proceed 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 bindings 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 petty 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. Allah sent His message through a series of and in-numerable prophets. One of the saying of His last, Prophet is, Translation, “-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“.
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, to invest somewhere else. Nothing has been left to invest in learning how to do TM. 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.
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. It is a matter of understanding and consequently changing the time allocation or priority of the task or a group 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 acronymry. It stands for Prioritizing through Organizing, Streamlining and Economizing by Conrtibuting. 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 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.
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.
Un-Imp & not urgent
• Watering lawn in Jul-Aug
• Knowing tuning of car
• How to write music
• Boot polishing w/o brush
Imp/ not urgent
• Marriage of younger bro
• Reducing weight
• Giving gift to wife
• Meeting the president before promotion board
Imp & Urgent
• Watering lawn in Jul-Aug
• Knowing tuning of car
• How to write music
• Boot polishing w/o brush
Un-Imp but Urgent
• Can send PA to deliver letter
• Wife can attend marriage this
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. 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, 11Tips 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 with the time that we have.
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, the first step to effective time.
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're not going to take personal phone calls while you're working. (See Set Specific Goals for help with goal setting.).
d. No.4. Implement a TM plan
Think of this as an extension of time management tip # 3. The objective is to change your behaviors over time to achieve whatever general goal you've 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're acco.
e. No.5. Use time management tool
Whether it's 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 time management easier.mplishing them.
f. No.6. Prioritize ruthlessly
You should start each day with a time management 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's 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'll 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.
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's organized to the point that you can quickly lay your hands on what you need.
k. No.11. Don't waste time waiting
From client meetings to dentist appointments, it's impossible to avoid waiting for someone or something. But you don't 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. 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 His reward. Next strep should be to explore, how good is your TM. Based on the knowledge of datum point, thus established, proceed to refine your prioritization, and in turn management of your activities. Get over with procrastination, 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; as which one or which potpourri of these will suite your goals. Goals are primarily two; 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 should be to allocate right amount of time, 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.
46 - 75
You are managing your time very efficiently.
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.