Time management

COVER STORY: Making the most of your time
Time is like a block of ice. It has to melt whether you utilise it well or not, writes Tahir Ali

We often complain about not having enough time for our siblings, friends, studies, hobbies and a lot of other things. Do you know that many others also feel the same?

You see people in a hurry all the time � at home, school, on bus stop, roads and in markets. No one ever seems to have enough time to do all the things he/she wants or needs to do. Time can neither be increased nor recreated once it�s lost, and you are constantly reminded of this by your parents and teachers. So one has to take as much advantage of the time on hand as possible for it waits for no one.

So, what should one do? See, time is life and time management is, therefore, life management. You need to manage yourself, your priorities, your choices, your habits, your actions and your associations. To do so, you have to learn to organise yourself within the fixed time that you have. Time management is really about life management and self management. By adapting to time management strategies, one will get more done in less time and feel happier.

Time management improves the quality of your life and your performance. It helps one do the right thing at the right time and in the right way. And by getting the greatest benefit out of the limited time available you have, time management can help you become great achievers.

You can lead life as a leader or backbencher, the choice is yours. A philosopher once said: �There are three kinds of people in the world � those who make things happen, those who wish things would happen, and all the rest wandering in a daze, wondering what happened.�

Najamul Aleem is a classic example of a person who does not proactively manage his time and the access others have to him Most of his time was consumed by tasks handed over to him by his friends and relatives. They are using him for their own advantage and he is allowing it. What he needs to do is to be friendly towards others but never allow himself to be at the will and mercy of others.

Time bandits
There are time bandits for everyone: procrastination, distractions, friends, engagements that are of little use, exhaustion, disorder, TV, internet, phone, useless activities, etc. All are time management’s biggest enemies. Interruptions need to be dealt with assertively and decisively. Proactively regulate access to yourselves. Make sure that you are �off the air� when busy doing something important. Never allow unwarranted incursions in your time.

Do you know where does your time go? Most people do not. You must know what your biggest time consumers and/or time wasters are. Prepare a time log � a record of what you do daily. It will help you identify your priorities and biggest time wasters. It will help you organise your life. You�ll also get to know whether your time usage reflects your priorities. It is the most important element in time management.

For this purpose, study time usage. Read books, articles and biographies of punctual, effective and successful people to learn new time management skills.

Clear goals
To be successful in life you should have clear goals. Goals give direction to your activities and show what things � career, family, relationships, friends, health or anything else � are most important to you. Driving in the right direction is more important than driving fast. You need to be realistic and clear in your goals. Set time limits for long, medium and short range goals and aim to achieve something each day.

Aiman is a girl who wanted to be a doctor. But she always lacked the commitment and devotion needed for pursuing a high-profile career. Her aims were high but efforts weak. She dreamt of a bright future but wasted her time. The result was obvious � she never made it to a medical collage.

Your best shot
Give your best to everything you undertake. Stay focused on your goals. Immerse yourself in the task at hand. Reduce distractions as far as possible. If you find it difficult to remain focussed at doing something for longer chunks of time, divide your work-time in small blocks and then expand it as you get into the rhythm.

We all feel sorry for having wasted time in the past but tend to be unmindful of the present as well. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for it is the stuff life is made of.�

Take advantage of each moment at your disposal. If you travel frequently, use the planes, trains and automobiles to your advantage for studying. Avail your opportunities. You are lucky to have so many vistas opened to you. Avail the maximum benefit out of the guidance, care, time and money at your disposal. Never wait to be in a good mood to do something. Never wait for others to come and push you to work. Even if you don�t feel like doing something, just get started and soon you�ll get into the rhythm. Soon you would feel motivated. It�s a time-tested strategy and works for everyone.

Learn to schedule
Many think they cannot follow a strict schedule. Of course they can and so can you. Sometimes we just don�t know what to do. Plan the day, week or year and stick to the schedule. Spend 15 minutes daily to update your calendars, appointment books and to-do lists. Avoid multitasking (doing too many things at a time). Leave some room for entertainment, personal emergencies and for bigger priorities. Plan a reward, a celebration for yourself for completing tasks and a punishment if you fail to achieve your goals. The �carrot and stick� policy will improve your performance for sure.

Organise
Wajid is an untidy person. He is in the habit of throwing things around, so much of his time is wasted in searching for misplaced things. You should not follow his path. Organise your room and workplace so that you don�t have to look for misplaced and lost items. Have a place for everything and have everything in its place. Store your files in a neat and organised manner and label things.

Prioritise
Prioritise your choices. Know the difference between urgent and important. Do the most important or difficult task in your golden moments � when you are at your best. Some experts urge doing the least favourite and easy tasks first. It all depends on what works best for you.

Never exhaust yourself too much. Sleep for at least eight hours each day, breathe some fresh air, catch some sunshine, exercise and relax. Eat a balanced diet. Get rid of your TV addiction or at least control it. This �idiot-box� is one of our biggest time wasters.

We all face many problems in life, especially in youth. We are often repentant over what we did and grieve over the results. Dejected and angry at ourselves, we indulge in activities that are invariably detrimental to our time, studies and goals. �It�s all over for me,� we often proclaim. It never is.

A little reflection on our habits, priorities and activities and reconsideration of strategies can help. Think what it was in past that distracted you from studies and which were the things that wasted your time. Also try to know about the things and habits that proved useful during any stage of your academic life.

Avoid the distractions and make the most of your plus points, if feasible, in the new situation. You must resolve to make the best use of your available time to make up for previous deficiencies and time wastage. Start working with a new zeal and commitment and you will win.

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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

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