Friday, February 18, 2011

Healthy balance in scheduling our duties and responsibilities Subajana Jeyaseelan, Lecturer, ELTU

“Our costliest expenditure is time…” – Theophrastus


In this fast moving busy world, each and everyone struggles to maintain good/better time management. We all are tightened and programmed with so many duties and responsibilities to do one after the other like a chain. So, how can we lead a happy life without keeping ourselves away from among such busy schedules? Has anyone thought of it? We, Sri Lankans do have poor time management practice, it is a general truth. We, Sri Lankans do not bother of wasting time on hanging on roads, gossiping, talking rubbish and giving no priority for promoting productive things, doing nothing practically and so on. Sri Lankans do not think or pre-plan what they do really want to do- whether it is important and urgent or important and not urgent. However, the general practice of our people is doing not important and not urgent; as a result, they fail to achieve important and urgent things to be done. This mentality of people leads the country to lag behind in the ranks of world progress.
However, all of us have only 24 hours a day which is quite valuable and manageable if it is intelligently planned. By having planned our schedules and duties with the proper time management, there would not be any clash between work life and home life. People, who have the practice of poor time management end in messing up; this habit leads them to embrace the failure in every step of their attempts. Even in our day to day life, we can observe thousands and thousands of people saying ‘I have no time to do this and that.’ This type of statements reveals their poor ability in managing the time. Such people would face difficulty in maintaining a healthy balance between their time in the office and at home. Ultimately, this causes to create problems in families as well as in offices.
Hence, this can be solved with a simple time management plan. In fact, it is not the problem with time, but with lacking knowledge in planning and organizing skill. To progress in life, one should learn to use time more shrewdly. Once, we get to know how to manage our time, we surely gain control.
Many a people in our country, pose them, showing that they are always busy and engaged with many tasks and innumerable busy schedules for getting the image as a big shot in the community. Even students, fail to keep up timing and maintain punctuality. Therefore, we should concentrate on results, not on being busy. Effective time management helps us to choose what to work on and when.
For this reason, people, who use these techniques routinely, are the highest achievers in all walks of life, from education to business and from sport to public service. If we use these skills well, then we will be able to function effectively, even under intense pressure. Many people spend their days in a frenzy of activity, but achieve very little or nothing because they are not concentrating on the right things at right time.
In our normal routine, typically, we all spend eight hours a day in the office, plus an additional couple of hours for the daily commute. This leaves a very small amount of time for the family. If you want to spend more hours at home, all we need to do is make a few modifications to our work schedule, and make an objective assessment of our goals in life.

The 80:20 Rule or Pareto’s Principle
Those who are in the field of economics might have heard of Pareto’s Principle; others may or may not. Then, what is 80:20 rule? Why is it named as Pareto’s principle?
Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian, who formed a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his nation, observing that the twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth in 1906. Many of them observed the similar phenomenon in their own areas of expertise. Later on in 1940, Quality Management pioneer, Dr. Joseph M. Juran named this 80/20 Rule to Pareto’s Principle or Law which is an effective tool to help everyone to manage effectively.
This rule tells that typically 80% of unfocussed effort generates only 20% of results. The remaining 80% of results are achieved with only 20% of the effort. The 80/20 Rule means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many (80 percent) are trivial. The ratio is not always 80:20, but it is considered as a norm in many areas. Twenty percent of something always is responsible for 80 percent of the results, known as Pareto's Principle or the 80/20 Rule.
Also one should optimize his or her effort to ensure that he or she who concentrate as much of his or her time and energy as possible on the high payoff tasks. So, managing the time encourages everyone to achieve their greatest targets.
This Rule can be applied to almost anything, from the science of management to the physical world. However, the theory is also flawed; it overlooks the fact that 80 percent of your time should be spent doing what is really important. The Rule should serve as a daily reminder to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on the 20 percent of you work that is really important.
The Basic factors of Time Management
Many of us have spent years and years without proper time management, so immediately putting this into practice is not that an easier task. So it cannot be a “quick fix’’ or an overnight solution. This needs enough patience to put ourselves on track. This is a step- by-step, powerful process that will change our working life better. Here are some of the important targeted points to be considered for effective time management:
Goal Setting
To start managing time effectively, we need to set goals. When a person travels, he /she should know the destination; then only he/she can get down at the correct place. Likewise when we plan only, we can figure out what exactly needs to be done, in what order. Without proper goal setting, we'll fritter or waste our time on a confusion of conflicting priorities.
In our normal life people tend to neglect goal setting and planning because it requires time and effort. They are not serious enough and what they fail to consider is that a little time and effort put in now saves an enormous amount of time, effort or frustration in the future. There is a proverb saying Stitch in time saves nine.

To handle the proper time management, we should develop the habit of prioritizing our needs. Without it, though we may work very hard, we will not be achieving the results we desire because what we are working on is not of strategic importance.
Most people have a "to-do" list of some sort but the problem is that many of these lists are just a collection of things. There is no system or order in the list and, as a result, the work they do is just as unstructured. So how do you work on To Do List tasks – top down or bottom up? the easiest to the hardest?
So if they have the properly organized ‘’to-do ‘’ list, once they complete their work, they can mark it off on their schedule of tasks. It gives them a peace of mind and the encouragement to continue on with the day. To work efficiently, we need to work on the most important, highest value tasks. Use a long-term calendar to record test dates, important due dates, things that we need to plan ahead for. We do not wait for the eleventh hour to finish the things.

Managing our time will give us more free time. This way we would not get caught scrambling to get something critical done as the deadline approaches. One of the most difficult parts of time management is motivating us to follow our scheduled plan. So reward yourself for accomplishing your goals. Often times, people get stuck in their jobs and are unable to get out even when they are not truly happy. For this reason, it is essential that you pause from time to time and re-evaluate. This will ensure the maintenance of a healthy balance between your career and family.
Managing Interruptions:
Budgeting our time in advance is very indispensable. Having a plan and knowing how to prioritize it is one thing. The next issue is, knowing what to do to minimize the interruptions we face during our day. It is widely recognized that managers and hierarchically top level officers get very little uninterrupted time to work on their priority tasks. There are phone calls, information requests, questions from employees, and a whole host of events that crop up unexpectedly. Some do need to be dealt with immediately, but others need to be managed. However, some jobs need you to be available for people when they need help – interruption is a natural and necessary part of life. Though such interruptions cannot be indelible, shrewdly managing such interruptions sticking the time management is the clandestine of success of a person as well as an institution.

We Srilankans are well known for procrastinating things because our schedules get struck and things get accumulated. Procrastination is a thief of progress; it is a proverb which says not to put-off the things for tomorrow, instead, do it today. "I'll do it later" has led to the downfall of many a good employee. After too many "laters", the work piles up so high that any task seems insurmountable. Procrastination is as tempting as it is deadly.

For instance, when the students were given assignments and the deadlines for the submissions, most of our students, except a few, wait for the eleventh hour though they were given even a month of time. This clearly shows their poor time management, lacking knowledge in prioritizing things, poor motivation and the negligence of the validity of time.
Learn to Say ‘No’
Mostly people put unnecessary burdens over their head in projects and other commitments simply because they do not have the heart to say no to a client or a friend in need. However, if you are so lenient, you will no longer be able to perform to the best of your abilities and this will damage the quality of your results.
Before accepting any task or making any commitment, you first need to assess whether you are actually still capable of fulfilling your responsibilities. If your schedule is already jam-packed, all you have to do is say no.
Time management is an essential skill that helps us keep our work under control, at the same time that it helps keep us stress free. We would all love to have an extra couple of hours every day. Since they practically seems to be impossible, we need to work smarter on things that have the highest priority, and then creating a schedule that reflects our work and personal priorities
With this in place, we can work in a focused and effective way, and really start achieving those goals, dreams and ambitions we care so much about .So time management helps you to be a better performing person. We always expect the unexpected and must be flexible but still accomplish what needs to be done. Definitely, we can succeed in our lives. Students, you are the heroes of tomorrow so effective time management is very essential for your successful life.
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Adair, J. (1988) Effective time management: How to save time and spend it wisely, London: Pan Books.

D.N. Aloysius/Lecturer

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