Time is the most important entity in everybody’s life. Can it be measured? We follow certain standards for measuring time. These are all relative to one another. Can we measure our life span accurately? Nobody can do that though we can predict. Studies have found that average life expectancy today is about 77 years for human beings. Again there is a remarkable gap here between men and women. It is 73.6 years for males and 79.4 years for females. When we do research we collect data, both past and present for a known species and based on our findings we reach a conclusion. So, that is again relative to time and hence there is nothing called absolute time. Today is our present, yesterday was our past and tomorrow is our future. It’s all about time and how we measure it.
In economics we study time value of money. In simpler terms it means that “the value of money tomorrow may not be what it is today”. Money represents our purchasing power and varies over time. We don’t get the same amount of an object for the same amount of money all the time. Cost of gold five years ago was not the same as it’s today. It’s changed (increased) many folds over this period of time. When we invest our money somewhere over a period of time, we expect a good return on our investment at maturity.
Let’s have a study of time in sports and games. Time plays a critical role in rapid chess events. The referee blows whistle in hockey and football at specified time intervals as per rule of the game. I have watched athletes crossing the line at millisecond gap in Olympics. In cricket there is penalty for the side bowling first if they take extra time to finish the over. They have to reach the target runs at less number of over for slow bowling rate. At TMI (Toastmasters International) we measure time. The speakers and other role players have a pre specified time for each role to perform. Speakers have five to seven minutes to present their speech and evaluators should not take more that three minutes for each evaluation. There are time limits for other role players too. A speaker gets disqualified if she/he crosses the time limit even though the quality of speech is very good. Time management is so important that no body is allowed to break the rule and it disciplines certain activities. We can’t frame rules/guidelines ourselves. We need to abide by this. Rules/guidelines are generally built upon proven records and past experiences. So, we should respect and follow that. There is scope for review and change for a certain rule/guideline. Again that is dependent on time.
Environmental factors play a great role in managing our time. Natural calamities like earthquake and cyclone cause postponement of examinations. We don’t reach school, college or office in time because of traffic congestion and sometimes due to heavy rain. School going children who have pending task like home work often say “Thank god it’s a rainy day” and we have extra time now. In old days people were dependent on Sun to have understanding of time. And then developed the solar clock where the shadow of a pointer generated by sun rays was the basis of time measurement. Ancient cultures all across the globe made use of the changing rise and set position of the Sun to track the seasons. With the advent of technology, today we have so many options to look at time. We are not just dependent on wrist watches or wall clocks. Electronic gadgets like mobile phones and all form of computers give us time. If you have nothing around you at home to know the present time, just switch on to a news channel. Fortunately I have a TV at home.
One of my friends had a unique idea of time management. They had a computerized attendance system for each class and the professor was very strict on time. As per the rule students had to log on within a specific time interval from the start of the class or else they’d be marked absent for that session. My friend used to reach late everyday at the class. His problem was with traffic and the distance he covers to his class. For him the situation was unavoidable and without the minimum attendance he could not appear for the final test. He thought over it a long and come up with a solution plan. He used technology to a great extent here for his own needs at few occasions. He used to change the computer time and then log on to the system. After logging in he again restores the computer time to the present time. In that way he got full attendance at few classes. I don’t know how far he was successful in that and if ever caught up doing that. When I asked him about that he denied me to reveal any further information. Whatever he did, I am not analyzing right or wrong here, but was he managing his time? He made fool of others successfully and had a short gain but a great personal loss by doing this. He developed a very bad habit over a period or time.
We submit our office timesheet regularly. Timesheet provides needed information for finance and accounting and it recognizes our true work efforts. It keeps track of our daily office activities like how much time we spend at work and how much away from work. How can we submit our timesheet for the entire week in midday of the week? Something might happen tomorrow and I may not come. In that case how can I submit my timesheet today for days of future that I haven’t worked and when nobody can predict the future? The constraint here is that the timesheet can’t be modified once submitted. If I need to go on leave or fell ill then how can I change my timesheet hours from eight to zero?
In my case when I am allowed to submit my timesheet for the days that I haven’t worked, I feel careless about the coming days and I feel three is no need to work when I’ve already been marked present for all the days. Also I feel like why I should work 8 hours for a day where it’s already submitted with 8 hours. I can safely leave home working 1-2 hours and no body can notice that. Is it not contradictory when we submit our timesheet before time? How can it provide our true work effort? So, when we submit time for days to come, we clearly provide false information. We should understand the importance of time and should not provide false information about our work. It’s a basic issue with everybody to be resolved soon without much delay. It’s impossible to get desirable results with this trend. After all why should we provide wrong information? Any information of the past that does not tally the records is wrong and all the assumed information of the future is wrong.
I have few collected thoughts and quotes on time as follows. To realize the value of ONE YEAR ask a student who has failed his final exam, To realize the value of ONE MONTH ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby, To realize the value of ONE WEEK ask an editor of a weekly newspaper, To realize the value of ONE DAY ask a daily wage laborer who has kids to feed, To realize the value of ONE HOUR ask the lovers who are waiting to meet, To realize the value of ONE MINUTE ask a person who has just missed their plane. To realize the value of ONE SECOND ask a person who has survived an accident. To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.
“Many people seem to think that success in one area can compensate for failure in other areas. But can it really? True effectiveness requires balance.”
— Stephen Covey
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
— H. Jackson Brown
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
— Michael Altshuler
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The surest way to be late is to have plenty of time.”
— Leo Kennedy
We can never ignore the importance of time in our life. Managing time or rather say managing ourselves is vital and has significant relevance in today’s context. We reach office late and blame it on the traffic. Some time we reach late at meetings and carry a bad name for us. At school few of my friends were popular as late comers among other students. We don’t have food on time and sleep late in the night. We have to meet deadlines at work and often we find it difficult to manage. We develop fatigue stretching ourselves too long at work that hampers our productivity. Infosys authority at bhubaneswar had conducted a time-management experiment. It passed a rule that for one week no employee was to stay in office after 5.30 pm. The management found that work was getting done as before. I had read this on The Telegraph, Calcutta-04th September, 2005. What I find is time controls us and not the vice versa. It’s practically impossible to manage time. We can only manage ourselves (and not time) by learning and developing effective time management skills in us which is essential for a better living.
* First published at http://writersatchatterati.blogspot.in/ on Thursday, 5 June 2008