Apr 4, 2008

Time Management With Value Added Time

Creative Commons License AttributionThe good thing about time is that of all the resources, it is the most egalitarian of all. The good thing about time is that it can be managed. The bad thing is that hardly a few of us manage to do it. Time management is one of the basic skills we should all try to learn perhaps as well as we learn our alphabets. With all the literature, lessons and tips written on it, time management is becoming more of a science and less of an unconscious habit. More often than not our efforts to respect time and learn better the art of its management are brought out when we are pushed to the brink of time drought. The brim of our lives full, and space for not even a minute more, we fall back (or forward?) on time management principles. It happened to me and I am sure somewhere down the line it has happened to you too. So here's a little tip I was taught. It might not give you another round of the sun, but can give you a few hands of the clock at least. The time management principle I learnt is an old salesman's trick. Nothing fancy, it just stresses on doing the small things promptly and the big things bit by bit.

To illustrate value added time with an example...

As salesman, we were expected to fill out our daily reports quite literally, daily. Now, ask any salesman, he will tell you that it's a chore. And as chores go, it's a salesman's Valium. My sales report consisted of filling out the details of the calls I had made for the day and it's specifics like customer details, discussions, price quoted etc. About 10 to 12 rows and columns of sleep inducing data. My earlier practice involved doing it at the end of the day at home. Tired to the bones and more interested in lounging before the television, I more often than not missed it. Of course, I never missed the whipping the next day from the bosses. It was true for me and it was true for others. Then, I hit upon the concept of Value Added Time or VAT. The basic idea is to use our wasted 'in between tasks' minutes to finish off the mundane work bit by bit. We all have those minutes. Here are some of them -

- Walking to the nearest grocery store to pick up supplies
- Traveling to work
- Waiting for someone
- Waiting for an appointment
- Waiting for the TV show to start

If you think through, you will get your own list. A few minutes but when they add up they are precious minutes. Now make up another list of all the routine jobs you can finish bit by bit in these minutes. Maybe, a telephone call you have been putting off for a while. Use these minutes, a few chatty moments is better than none at all. Carry a book along in your bag or a small notebook. Read a few pages while you are waiting for someone or finish some lists you were planning using the small notebook. Sometimes between TV shows, I clean a corner of my room. Multiply it by a more intervals and my whole room is clear. And doing these everyday things chunk by small chunk doesn't tax me at all. You can do a small exercise. Just for a day, I did a small exercise. I calculated how many of minutes I wasted in between other activities. I found out it was approximately 2 hours. Two hours! Multiplied by 30, that's nearly three and a half waking days!

So, here I am now, adding value to my time - by adding up the minutes. Little minutes by little minutes, chunk of work by tiny chunk.

Oh, yes...do I finish my daily reports? You bet I do. As soon as I finish an appointment, I take 4-5 minutes to put in the details on the sales sheet. By the last call, my report is finished and so is the problem for the rest of the day.

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