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       Time Management
 

 Accomplished Time Manager
  Peter Drucker is a most accomplished time manager.  He works as a professor, consultant and author.  His time budget for consulting and speaking is 100 days in a year.  Probably another 100 days he spends on his teaching work and for the rest of the year he works in his study.  He goes on producing illuminating books year after year.  He works without any staff.  He keeps down demands on his time by use of printed mail-back cards saying, for instance, Drucker regrets that he cannot accept any speaking assignment for the time being.
    In his eminently readable book “The Effective Executive” he explains the principles of time management in his inimitable style. 

A super time manager
  At the outset Drucker refers to the president of a bank with whom he had to work as consultant for several months.  To Drucker’s surprise the president was even a more accomplished time manager.

   
Every meeting would be exactly of 90 minutes.  There would always be only one item on the agenda.  After 80 minutes Drucker had to summarize the discussion and to outline the topic for the next session.  And within ten minutes the president would be shaking hand with him.  There were no visitors or telephone calls to interrupt the meeting.  The secretary never stuck her head in the door announcing some important visitor.  Only the president of the U.S.A.  or the bank president’s wife could telephone while the meeting was in progress.  The wife knew better and never rang up.  The president rang up only in a national crisis, which was very rare.
   
This is an ideal way of conducting a meeting.  It illustrates a number of principles of effective time management.

Span of Attention
  The duration of this meeting was always 90 minutes. The president of the bank had found that he could not concentrate on the subject after 90 minutes.  That was his attention span.  On the other hand, no useful discussion could take place in shorter time say half an hour.  It is difficult to get to the roots of the matter and to concentrate on the subject in a short time.  This leads to the next principle of time management-time being made available in sufficiently large chunks. 

Large chunks of time
  Suppose you want to prepare a report for which you estimate that you would require in all 48 hours.  Then you decide to work 112 hours a day for four days and finish the work.  You find that you cannot work with concentration for 12 hours a day and your planning fails.  Then you say it is no use working so long on a single day and it is better to devote half an hour a day and do the job perfectly.  But you soon find that in find that in half an hour no work gets done and the time is simply wasted.  If some important work is to be done, you must have sufficiently large chunks of time available in a stretch. Executives often fritter away their time trying to use it in small driblets. No real work gets done in this manner.

Concentration
  Effective executive work demands concentration on the question under consideration.  This is a matter of practice and self-discipline.  An executive would not be able to concentrate unless he takes deep interest in his work and has the urge to reach the best possible decision in the matter.

Allocation of time
  From the point of view of intellectual efficiency all clock hours are not identical.  The hour during which your mind is fresh and you can think lucidity is worth several hours when you feel fatigued and dejected.  The effective executive reserves the hours when he is fresh and vigorous for the most important work. Another principle is to judge the relative importance of various items.  A good executive knows what is trivial and what is important.  His allocation of time is based on the relative importance of various matters. 
    This appears to be a very simple matter but very often many executives occupy themselves with the trivial and neglect the fundamental.
 

Executives have no time of their time
  Executives once they are in their chamber find that they hardly have any time of their own to deal with complex issues.  Their work is constantly interrupted by visitors who call on without prior appointment, by subordinates who want instructions and guidance and by telephonic enquiries.  To overcome these difficulties, some top executives work an hour or two at home.  They disconnect the telephone and work on some basic problems.  This arrangement has many advantages.  The executives can concentrate their attention on all important matters and having done this they are free to deal with matters of lesser importance readily and quickly. 

Recording the time
  Many executives have no real idea how they spend their time.  They are often quite sure that they spend their time very fruitfully and very little time is wasted.  However if they keep a proper record, they will find that the facts are quite different.  There are many simple ways of saving time.  They may be doing much work, which could be best done by their assistants.  They might be attending to many meetings, insignificant social functions, which could be avoided. 

Committee Meetings
  Executives have to spend a good deal of time attending meetings of various descriptions.  If there are too many meetings, it is a sign of mal-organization and lack of co-ordination.  Meetings should not make an excessive demand on the executive’s time. 

Time the most precious resource
  Of all the resources of production, time is the most precious resource.  It is also the most essential resource as all work is done in time.  It is irreplaceable.  Time lost is lost forever.  The most loving care of his time therefore marks the effective executive.  He plans his work carefully.  His priorities are well fixed.  He knows how to deal with time wasters.  He also ensures that he does not waste the time of his assistants, by keeping them waiting unnecessarily.

The Golden Principles
 
Management is not, and cannot be an exact science.  There are hardly any laws in management, which are universally valid, like the law of gravitation.  But there are two golden principles, which are true at all times.  The first concerns the proper use of one’s time.  To be effective in management is to be efficient in the use of one’s time in the first place.  And this one can practice and teach oneself.  It does not require any capital investment.  It is a matter of self-discipline.  The other principle is that of integrity for which there is no substitute in management. 

The need for adequate relaxation
  Peter Drucker’s discussion is incomplete in one important respect.  To be rally effective, the executive must be fresh and energetic.  He must therefore learn to relax adequately and wisely.  Overwork can be harmful.  Bagehot, the perceptive historian, says he knew businessmen in London who went bankrupt because they worked 8 hours a day.  He adds that they would have been prosperous if they had worked only 4 hour.  Bertrand Russell has recorded a similar experience.  When he was working on his lectures ‘Our knowledge of the External World’ he worked so hard that his mind refused to function. In desperation he went on a holiday for a week and on return he found that his subconscious mind had kept the carbon copy of the lectures ready.  He had simply to dictate them to his stenographer. 

 

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