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Time Management

Time is a unique resource. It is non renewable and hence, the most precious resource that is available to man. However, our focus is invariably on manpower, material, and machinery when it comes to managing a business enterprise.

It is quite unfortunate that Time, which is the most valuable resource available to a person, is always taken for granted.

Time cannot be saved…..it can only be spent. Time that is spent is irreplaceable

The Times of your Lives

An interesting Research published in German science magazine Geo Wissen shows the total time spent in various activities by a person in his lifetime as below:

Sr. No. Activity Time Spent
1 Kissing 2 weeks
2 Praying (For the average churchgoer) 2 weeks
3 Sitting in the Doctor’s waiting room 3 months
4 Hanging out in Hotels 3 months
5 Playing computer games 4 months
6 Wrestling with do-it-yourself jobs in house 5 months
7 In lavatory 6 months
8 In traffic jams 6 months
9 Washing & ironing clothes 9 months
10 Playing with your children 9 months
11 Commuting 9 months
12 Relaxing in Theatres 1 year
13 Cleaning 1 year, 4 months
14 Shopping 1 year, 6 months
15 Playing sports & keeping fit 1 year, 7 months
16 In classrooms & college 1 year, 10 months
17 Cooking 2 years, 2 months
18 Joking & gossiping with friends 2 years, 10 months
19 Eating 5 years
20 Watching TV 5 years, 6 months
21 Working (minus 8 weeks of tea breaks) 7 years
22 Sleeping 24 years
  Total 58 years

It is quite shocking to note that the time spent in working is less than seven years! Moreover, it underlines the need to make the best possible use of this time in order to be successful.

Characteristics of absence of Time Management

Each one of us must have experienced some, if not all, of the following signs in one’s job environment.

Last minute rushes to meet dead lines

We always hear the phrase ‘was required yesterday’ for practically every task. The job gets done somehow by the time it has to be delivered.

Meetings that achieve nothing

A lot of time is taken up by meetings that do not have a proper agenda and often end without any concrete decisions! Very often the only conclusion is to have another meeting on the subject scheduled later.

Seemingly ‘unproductive’ days

There are days when apparently time is spent working, yet there are hardly any results to show for the effort. It is a classic case of work expanding to fill the available time!

‘Stressful’ environment

This is the inevitable outcome of the above situation/s. The problem is worsened when the task requires inputs from external and uncontrollable sources.

Degradation of performance

The end result of this kind of environment is a poor job performance by the individual. One may suffer a ‘burnout’ or even get fired from the job.

Origin of the problem

A major contributing factor for a lack of proper time management is ‘overconfidence’. How often do we hear the promise ‘Ho Jayega’ without any serious thought or analysis? People try to apply techniques that worked with small projects blindly to large ones and soon land in trouble. This is because the inefficiencies that were insignificant in small operations got magnified in large ones.

So what should be done?

The most important step is to realize that the issue is NOT ‘time’ management but ‘SELF’ management!

The Key ingredient is self discipline – one has to learn new attitudes and practices to make the most out of the time available.

Planning becomes a very important stepping stone to ensure timely completion of any task. It is well known that failing to plan is planning to fail!

A simple way is to plan ahead by working backwards i.e. making a list of all the activities to be completed to achieve the desired result and noting the time required for each of them. This will help us identify the likely bottlenecks and also the activities that can be done simultaneously so as to shorten the total time taken to complete the task.

Tips for Successful Time Management

  • Decide beforehand how long a task should take, break it into small sections & monitor the progress
  • Do not work with impossible deadlines. If a task cannot be done in available time it will NOT be done
  • Group similar tasks together & set up a regular routine / schedule
  • Give / seek clear instructions / specifications
  • Decide what is – urgent (short term consequences)
                            – important (long term consequences)
                            – both
                                                                 And prioritize!
  • If a task can be done by a subordinate start training him for it instead of doing it yourself
  • Do not do others’ work, avoid repetition or duplication
  • Do your home work, be prepared for a meeting with relevant information
  • Plan & carry out follow-up actions after an event

Remember 2 ‘Eff’ words

Effective – ‘desired’

Efficient – minimum effort & minimum waste


  1. Geo Wissen (GEO KNOWLEDGE) # 36-10 / 05 - Time - The eternal mystery: 94-100
  2. Prasad LM, Principles & Practice of Management. New Delhi: Sultan Chand & Sons; 1997
Dr Vijay Sohoni (April 2014)

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