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Time Management For Leaders

The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule as much as to schedule your priorities

Photo Credit : Shutterstock


Time management isn’t limited to carving out your ‘studio time’. There is a lot before and after. Achieving personal success requires efficient and productive use of time.  Life is nothing but an accumulation of moments into days, weeks, months and years.

Time exists ‘outside’ of us. Passage of time is inevitable. The ability to manage time requires the ability to manage ‘energy’, which is ‘inside’ of us and therefore controllable. Such energy manifests itself as physical, mental and spiritual energy. Time cannot be made either. It is about having energy.

Time as a concept has resonance at a macro level where ancient Indian wisdom divided life into four large time-spans: Brahmacharya Ashram (dedicated to learning), Grihastha Ashram (family, professional and social life), Vanaprashta Ashram (dispassion and spiritual phase) and Sanyas (detachment). In the Arthshastra, Chanakya (also called Kautilya) prescribed ‘daily task planning’ for a king, so he may rule successfully.    

A modern leader can appropriately substitute context to suit today’s day and time. Chanakya divided the day and night into eight intervals of 90 minutes each called ‘nalikas’.  The eight nalikas are from 6:00 a.m. going through the day and similarly through the night, with rest included.  Kautilya discussed flexibility and sequencing as per the task and resources available.  Importantly, Kautilya prescribed balancing urgency and importance in line with the modern accepted concept of ‘the urgent driving out the important’. To think too long about doing a thing becomes its undoing. “Better three hours too soon, than one-minute too late,” said William Shakespeare.

In the Ayodhya Kand of Valmiki’s Ramayana, Lord Ram elaborates on the golden rules of time management in his discourse on running the kingdom to younger brother, Bharat. He talks of work-life balance, concepts of efficiency, prioritising, effort-return ratio and transitioning from working hard to working smart. Lord Ram also discusses allocating time for all three dimensions of life: to perform dharmic (virtuous) duties, to acquire materialistic and non-materialistic wealth, and to fulfill just desires. In essence, he dwells on the three ‘purushartha’ or the meaning of  life for attaining moksha (detachment) and integration with the inner self.

Modern-day management wisdom talks of tools, such as decluttering, planning, prioritising, effectiveness, focus, and action – which are all great.  In the Ramayana, ‘never’ and ‘now’ are introduced as two simple, yet supreme compasses for time management. For important tasks, the time for action is ‘now’ and for distractions, it is ‘never’. This is especially relevant for multi-tasking lives in modern times.

You can kiss to stop time, read to travel in time, listen to music to escape time, write to feel time and breathe to release time.  The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule as much as to schedule your priorities.  Keeping time in perspective is to “live each day as if it’s your last” but plan to live a hundred years! 

There is only ‘now’ and look how rich we are in it!  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 25 November 2017 time management ramayana

Piyush Sharma

Piyush Sharma is a modern management practitioner and ancient philosophy enthusiast

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