These timeless words succinctly capture the ‘catch-up’ mode that most families find themselves in nowadays. Do you use ‘No time’, ‘Busy’ and ‘Stressed’ to describe your situation often enough? Do you feel you are only fire-fighting and not doing meaningful things? Or, are you juggling everything just fine, but want some ideas about not dropping even that odd ball now and then? If your answer is a yes to any of the above, then this article is a must read for you! Many urban families have both parents working outside the home, often with equally demanding jobs. Furthermore, the old boundaries between the office and home have crumbled, thanks to technology, and ‘being available’ or ‘on call’ is a prerequisite rather than a choice. Children are not far behind, with their jam-packed schedules, long commutes to school and pursuit of numerous extra-curricular activities. Changes in family structure mean that today’s parents shoulder all the responsibilities by themselves – of raising children, running a home and achieving personal fulfilment. Rather than longing wistfully for a less rushed age, should we look at how to tame that elusive will-o’-the-wisp, Time? Can we manage time better? “I think ‘time management’ is a misnomer. Since time is a constant, it cannot be managed. ‘Time utilisation’ may be a more accurate term. All human beings have 24 hours in a day, whether it is Barack Obama or Cheenu – what we make of those hours is what distinguishes the efficient and effective from the rest,” is the firm opinion of G. Srinivasan (Cheenu), a partner at UseTime, an effectiveness and productivity coaching organisation. And he elaborates further and offers a framework for utilising time. An Approach to Time Utilisation Step 1: Setting priorities – What do I want/need to do (What is important to me) “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”
First, as adults, we should be clear about what we want (including why we want it):
- I want to be an involved parent because I believe that I have a vital role to play in my child’s growth;
- I want a fulfilling career because of the sense of achievement it brings;
- I want to pursue a hobby for the joy I will get.
When priorities seemingly conflict, you think of ways and means to reconcile this. An involved father may pass over a promotion that entails frequent travel and more social engagements or he may take it up, and think of new ways to be involved despite the lack of physical time with his family. In both these scenarios, if there is clarity in the mind of the father; there will be no sense of martyrdom (that he has sacrificed for the family) or guilt (that he is neglecting his family). Guilt leads to over-indulgence of children and a sense of martyrdom leaves adults with resentment and dissatisfaction, both highly undesirable!