“Do you know how many seconds we get each day?” Just one hand went up to this question in an audience of more than 1,500 students at a business school where I was invited to speak on time management. The others did not have a clue. They were amazed to know they had 86,400 seconds in their account each day.
Every night, this account becomes empty as we go to sleep. We are left with no credit, as we cannot store these seconds. We also cannot even overdraw. Each day opens with a new account, this is the law of nature. How we invest these 86,400 seconds is in our hands. Our good health, happiness and success depend on it. Whether we fail or pass depends on variable factors.
Every one of us arrives with the gift of energy, visible from the moment we are born. We enhance this energy when we breathe well, sleep well, live well, think well, work well, plan well, and also maintain and cultivate our relationships well. We draw energy from all things we do, but doing it in the right way and right amount is important.
Listen to the body clock
Our body’s system has inbuilt clock. It gives us an alarm when we are fatigued, hungry, depressed, sleepless, stiff, ill, and ageing. It tells us to listen to the body and change our lifestyle when we must. Our body asks us to replenish, repair, restore, detoxify, relax, rest, recover, and treat it. It wants attention, care and right use. Not all of us are built to be marathon runners, weight lifters, boxer, or sprinters. Even champions are not for life. Every purple patch has a time span. Overstretching the body burns it out.
Three periods and their purpose
There are three time periods in our lives - the past, the present, and the future. The past is for learning from experience to live well in the present and prepare for the future. Those who learn from history do not fail. Hitler would not have lost the war had he learnt from Napolean’s experience that Russian winter is the invaders’ deadliest enemy.
We must know our high-output and low-output hours, so that we can complete the difficult tasks when we are most active and easy work when the energy is down.
All creative people and meritorious students know this. Socialising during peak hours and studying during weak hours is doing it the wrong may. It requires only normal intelligence to know that we need to complete the urgent and important tasks first, or everything else in life will become urgent.
To do more in less time
If we are to achieve more in less time, personal discipline is the key. Treasure your time; evaluate regularly how and where your seconds are going. Stick to first things first. Make a to-do list and budget your time. Remember that 80% of the success comes from 20% of your activities, so remain focussed.
Set clear objectives and deadlines. Know why you are doing whatever you are up to. If you want to have fun, you must enjoy. Flow with it. It will help you cut your losses in terms of precious time. Do not stress and overburden yourself. Set realistic goals, and as said earlier, finish the difficult tasks first.
What have you sown?
You reap what you sow in those 86,400 seconds. I asked the B-school students: “If you want trust, are you sowing honesty? If you want friends, are you sowing goodness? If you want greatness, are you sowing humility? If you want victory, are you sowing perseverance? If you want harmony, are you sowing consideration? If you want success, are you sowing hard work? If you want reconciliation, are you sowing forgiveness? If you want improvement, are you sowing patience? If you want a miracle, are you sowing faith?”
Be careful in what you sow in the 86,400 seconds you get each day, for it will determine what you will reap. Fruits of labour are based on the choices you make through the day, one day at a time. Time flies, change is the law, growth is optional, choose wisely.
The writer, a former IPS officer, is a member of the BJP. The views expressed are personal