Nature and Significance of Time Management


Dr. Ratish Kakkad
Faculty Member
R.K. College of Business Management
Kasturbadham, Rajkot

Notion and Nature of Time

Unlike energy, money and skill, time by no means returns nor be able to it be recreated. Once it is left it is gone eternally. That's why time is the most relenting and most precious of all the inputs used in an institute. Yet we misuse time.

Wilkinson advocates, "Begin to manage and invest it. It could be the best speculation you'll ever make for yourself and your organization."1 Time is capital. When it is saved it results into saving of fixed overhead cost reducing the final total and per unit cost of output. The income suffers when time is wasted. Time- over- run in project execution usually consequences into cost-over-run which from time to time results into fiscal non-viability of the venture itself.

It is debatable whether time can be saved and invested. Jitendra M. Mishra and Prabhakar Mishra hold an opposite view. According to them, time is an outstanding resource. It cannot be saved; it can only be spent wisely.2 when it cannot be saved, then how it can be invested?

Time is predetermined and identical for everyone. It elapses at a standardized rate. Everyone has 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 52 weeks a year accessible to him or her. Amount of time is not important. Rather how do you pay out or waste it; how do you administer it is important.

Time can be managed for future only. You have to plan today if you want to manage your time tomorrow. It is of no use to plan today for yesterday' s time spent by you.

Time may be divided into two parts- committed time and discretionary time. The former cannot be managed. It has to be accepted as a restraint or constraint in time scheduling. You can manage discretionary part of time only.

Significance of Time Management

Time management is swiftly becoming a grave area of concern in individual's private life as well as in organization life—from top management to operating level supervisors. Effective time management is valuable in terms of cost savings for projects and operations. Peter F. Drucker has rightly advocated, "Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed3. Time management is concerned with optimizing the use of your discretionary time.

Sense of Time and Individual Types

Benjamin Franklin characterizes time as the stuff of which life is made. Your individual pace in truth reflexes the stuff of which you are made. Each individual has a different insight and attitude towards time. Differing time insight and attitudes lead to needless human confrontation in organizations. By understanding your own sense of time and that of your fellow-workers, you can become a more effective manager.

Wisdom of time of an individual can be depicted through a simple test urbanized by Mary Avin Walsh Eells.4 The test requires you to draw three circles by pen or pencil on a simple paper. Three circles will symbolize past, present and future correspondingly. It may take any one of the following types:

(a)  Futuristic: - It is steadily expanding sum of time. About 65% people fall in this type. Such people care for future but do not feel concerned about past mistakes, failures and injustices. They utilize present time and plan carefully for future.

(b) Janus: - Such a person is attached to past mistakes, failures and injustices. May be also dreaming about future. But, however, he fails to live the present. Such a person is involved with things rather than people. His main weakness lies in his tendency to treat people with mechanical orientation. He is uneasy with the present. It often leads to colossal failure.

(c) Existential: - Such a person is just opposite the Janus type. He is oriented towards people rather than objects. He lives in the present. He is not emotionally involved to past as well as future. He is prompt and punctual. He is painful with long-range plans and goals.  However, excess concern with present may also lead to failure. Janus and Existential type people find difficulty in working together.

(d) Explosive: - Such a person is a dynamo in steady motion. But speed of procedures and impatience may lead to mistakes. It also creates difficulties in carrying people with himself. Such person talks more but fails to listen others. He may be victorious due to charismatic personality but he is literally a time bomb. He is impulsive and internally displeased which may expose him to high risk of high blood pressure.

(e) Tidal: - Such a person is pleasant with the past, present and future. He lives life with a sense of continuity. Lessons learnt from past are related to the present. He is goal-oriented and values freedom, autonomy and initiative. He in not flashy, flamboyant and charismatic individual but his chances of being successful are quite good.

(f) Medallion:- Such person is balanced and imaginative. He examines all sides of the problem. Family and friends take precedence over job. He is not judgmental. He can adjust with anyone. He is not achievement oriented. Such people rarely reach executive position.

(g) Random: - Such person has no aim of identity and lacks direction in life. He lives a chaotic life. He is not career- oriented. Such persons rarely reach executive position due to their casual approach to people as well as objects. People passing through a transitional phase from one category to another may draw such a pattern.

(h) Pessimistic: - Such a person is very pessimistic about present as well as future. He is inactive in the present and future appears to be very dark to him. He lives in the past. This is the worst of all time perceptions. Such a person is prone to depression and may develop suicidal tendencies.

Real Problem is 'Self' Not Time

Compatible time perceptions are necessary for harmonious group/team formations and effective time management. We talk about ' Time management'. But it is not time but it is self, which has to be managed.

Time is fix in quantity. It is inelastic. Yet we wrongly presume that it can be controlled, or saved and invested. It is irretrievable yet we presume that it can be made up. It moves at a uniform predetermined rate but it sometimes seems to fly and at other times to drag. The greatest paradox is this that although every body has equal amount of time, yet most of the people complain that they have no time or they do not have enough time. In fact, time is not a problem but it is self, which is a problem.  Change of habits, change of ways of working, change of perception and attitude towards time are the remedies. Discretionary time should be put to optimum utilization.

Hard work is no solution. Perspiration should not be confused with efficiency. Those who are most active are not necessarily most productive. What is needed is you work smarter rather than harder. Goals and objects are to be achieved at the least cost. A politician once commented, " Having lost sight of due objectives, we redoubled our efforts." Avoid such a situation. Plan ahead and set goals clearly. It is also a myth that highly paid executives make smarter decisions.

George Bernard Shaw wrote, "We seem not to live long enough to take ourselves seriously. While we are laughing most of the time, most of us act as if this life were just a practice run for the next."

Eliminate the non-essential work. Insulate yourself to capitalize on discretionary time usage. Find quiet time for concentration. Reflect, review, plan and act decisively. If you manage yourself in this manner time will be no problem to you.

Susan T. Parker has observed, " Blue collar workers are blamed for lower productivity. But it's probably the workers in suits and ties who are not putting in a full day.5"

John W. Lee and Robert Adcock have also confirmed this situation through a survey conducted by them. They reveal their finding," The only principle which seemingly was followed by a majority of those surveyed was the principle of Muddling Through— Little planning, less organisation and practically no control 6.

George H. Labovitz and Lloyd S. Baird have also made a pathetic comment on management, "It is a paradox of management that those who are responsible for organizing the activities of others often have the most trouble managing themselves.7" Thus, the crux of the problem is 'Self management' and not the 'management of time' of yours and others. Are you listening my dear manager! Make time work for, not against, you.

H. Kent Baker and Stevan Holmberg have also opined, "Time management is really self management. The objective is not to become super-efficient or super-productive. Learn to use time to achieve one's objectives - to work smarter, not harder, as the saying goes. 8 " Time management requires self-management in terms of change of habits, perceptions, attitudes. This change is difficult. It requires effort, patience, commitment and a willingness to change.

Charles W. Schilling has stressed upon cyclical pattern of time. He states, "Time is cyclical, in which events start, change and stop. The inability to start an event is called reluctance. The inability to change events within time is inflexibility. The unwillingness to stop an event in time is being compulsive.9" Avoid all the three pitfalls carefully.

Lack of concern for time and excess concern for time are two extreme points. Both may cause stress. Therefore, act like a race driver who should go as far as he can as quickly as he can. Excess concern with control of time leads to total control over absolutely nothing.


It is difficult to define time precisely. But you can easily remember that—

1. Time is the scarcest resource.

2. Time is fixed, inelastic and irretrievable.

3. Time is money. It affects cost and profitability, efficiency.

4. Time is not reversible. Lost time is a waste.

5. Time is equal for all.

6. Time can be used wisely or wasted. But it cannot be saved, stored and invested.

7. Cost of time is more at higher levels of management.

8. Time management is nothing but self-management. It requires change of habits, perception and attitude. It is a difficult process. Remember that time is not a problem. You are the problem.

9. Time does not wait for anyone. It elapses at uniform rate. However, it appears long to those who idle away it and short to those who want to utilize it but cannot plan.

10. Time cannot be managed or controlled. You have to manage or control your 'self'. Your positive attitude and commitment to use time wisely is essential.

References and notes

1. Wilkinson, William R. "Don't spend time - Invest it" Michigan Business Review, Division of Research, Graduate school of Business Administration, The University of Michigan, 1974.

2. Mishra, Jitendra M. and Prabhakar Mishra "Time management: Getting the Best out of your time" Managerial Planning. Planning Executive Institute, 1982.

3. Peter F. Drucker, "How to Be an Effective Executive," Nation's Business (April 1961) pp. 34-35.

4. See Hoffer, William, "How do you perceive Time?" Association Management, the American Society of Association Executives, 1983.

5. Parker, Susan T, "How the Boys in the Office Mishandle Time", Iron Age, 1982.

6. Lee, John W. and Robert Adcock, "Time, one more time," California Management Review, University of California, 1971.

7. Labovitz, George H. and Lloyd S. Bird, "Managing Time: Positive Clock-Watching", SAM Advanced Management Journal, the society for Advancement of Management, 1981.

8. Baker, H. Kent, and Stevan Holmberg, "Stepping up to supervision: Managing time and Job Pressures" Supervisory Management, AMACOM, American Management Association, 1981.

9. Schilling, Charles W. "Time Planning: How to Divide up your day; "Supervision, the National Research Bureau, 1980.

Dr. Ratish Kakkad
Faculty Member
R.K. College of Business Management
Kasturbadham, Rajkot

Source: E-mail July 26, 2006


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