April 3, 2006

Nothing annoys me more than people wasting time - their own time, my time, and others time. I value my as well as others time and expect the same from others. But to my astonishment I have found that majority of people neither value their time nor other's time. And that gives me fits!

As far as wastage of time is concerned, there are two categories of people - those who deliberately waste time and those who just can’t manage time well. People in first category are hopeless and never ever rise above the level of their incompetence. People in second category can do well to learn techniques of time management and personal productivity and rise above the level of their competence.

Typically, wastage of time due to poor time management has its origin in one of the following:

In life, the word priority is spoken with increased frequency by a large number of people from various walks of life. But I have my doubts about whether they really understand the meaning of the word "priority". Priority can mean different thing to different people and hence so much wastage of time. I have seen a number of people prioritizing the work without any thought to importance or urgency of the work. They seldom give a thought as to why they are assigning some work a higher priority than some other work. On the other hand, people who are great time managers often follow the "Importance-Urgency" framework while assigning priority. They simply put any task or work in one the four categories viz. "Important-Urgent", "Important-Not Urgent", "Unimportant-Urgent", and "Unimportant-Not Urgent". First they hit the "Important-Urgent" type work and then devote maximum amount of their time on "Important-Not urgent" type of work. Spending more and more time on "Important-Not Urgent" type of work also reduces the number of work in "Important-Urgent" category as they are taken care of before they become urgent. As far as the remaining two types of work (Unimportant work) are concerned, great time managers try to avoid them or minimize the time spent on them.

Improper allocation of time
Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill time available”. From my observations and experience I can say that this law holds true at least 95% of time. So, proper allocation of time to a task is one of the key to managing time effectively. If you allot too little time, your work may suffer as well as affect your schedule creating a spiral of events that may go out of control. If you allocate too much time, Parkinson’s Law will come into effect and it will result in sheer waste of your productive time.

Focus on to-do lists rather than objectives
To-do lists are quite fashionable, particularly in corporate world. No doubt, they have their importance in managing time. But getting obsessed with to-do list is a sure sign of trouble in time management. To-do lists can at most be a means to an end. Time management could become much efficient if people get obsessed with objectives rather than impersonal to-do lists. Making objectives the driving force would result in greater focus and less diversion to unimportant things.

External factors
These are the factors beyond our control. Things like unimportant phone calls, interruptions, junk mails etc. We could manage around them and minimize their impact on productivity but cannot eliminate them. These are basically things which are either unimportant but urgent or unimportant and not urgent. These are things that must be avoided whenever possible.

To sum up efficient time management and resulting personal productivity is a matter of being ruthless with time and understanding the value of each and every moment and how to use them in the best way. It’s more of an attitude rather than a philosophy or science. If you have an attitude that advocates milking every moment to the maximum and in the best possible way then time management will become as easy as breathing.

Someone once said, “Time has hairs in front but is bald behind”. So catch it while it is there. Once gone it would be too late!


  1. Ajit Chouhan // April 3, 2006 at 7:35 PM  

    well said...