Time Allows, Time Restricts!

After a long day of work, you finally sit to enjoy your well deserved ‘Me time’; only to realise that you have to sleep in an hour to wake up on time tomorrow. Where did the time go? Why don’t you have time for the things you have wanted to do for months? 

Resources, natural or human-made, have been a consistent part of your life. Your dependence on them defines everything you do. Among numerous valuable resources, one stands out to be the master: Time. The utilisation of all other resources depends on how much time one can spend on each of them. If you can spare more time, you can do and achieve more.

Time Management is a Misnomer

One of the most common complaints that exist is that ‘I don’t have time.’ However, everyone has the same amount of time every day. It is how you manage your activities within that amount of time that can leave you with less or more. It is an axiom that you can’t create more time, but you can become more meticulous in using it more efficiently. Our focus should be on ‘Activities Management’ rather than ‘Time Management.’ 

The Four Buckets of Activities Management 

Time is the only resource, which, once gone, never comes back. An ideal for successful ‘Activities Management’ is through the categorisation of your daily activities into the following four buckets: 

  • To be Eliminated
  • To be Automated
  • To be Outsourced
  • To be Undertaken 

To Be Eliminated: Take a day or two to do a quick review of the activities you undertake and the time you spend on them. Once the assessment is complete, analyse your activities against the time spent to identify which activities are productive and counterproductive. 

Moving forward, eliminate whatever is not relevant or your priority. Similar to a to-do list, you can also make a ‘Not to-do list’ to ensure you avoid unnecessary activities. Say ‘No’ to time wasters. That way, the elimination principle will leave you with more time to spend on productive activities.

To Be Automated: Advanced technologies and innovative products have made it easy to automate as many activities as possible to save time spent on doing them physically. You can put recurring activities such as monthly shopping, paying utility and credit card bills, rentals and EMI etc., along with professional activities such as email flows and internal operational processes into this automation bucket. 

Indian startups garnered $9.3 billion in funding in 2020, ranking India in the top 5 among the biggest startup cultures, worldwide. These companies and innovative startups are furnishing automated solutions to general life problems. Any activity that technology can automate should be automated, leaving the rest to be worthy of your time. 

To be Outsourced: Most people think that if they want everything to go their way, they have to do it themselves. On the contrary, outsourcing is a great way to ensure the successful completion of activities and save your personal time. There are professionals who specialise in doing things better and faster than you. Wherever possible, you must outsource or look to leverage competence of others in every aspect of your personal and professional activities.

As you hire people for time-consuming personal activities such as cleaning, cooking, gardening, driving etc, you may hire professionals for several business affairs such as content, social media posts, customer support, technology support, accounting and related services etc. Finding and engaging experts in any activity can increase efficiency and better your overall desired output.  

To be Undertaken: The time you save through eliminating, automating and outsourcing goes towards the activities you want to undertake but skip due to the lack of time. These are the activities that you can not delegate as they are vital for your personal and professional growth. This bucket is the most crucial for leading a simple, productive, meaningful and enjoyable life.

You can categorise personal growth activities such as exercising, reading, sleeping, spending time with family or friends etc., along with vital professional activities such as ideating, business strategies, policies, decision making etc., into this category. Once you start filling this bucket with things you know will help your growth, you will be amazed at how much they positively impact your mental and physical well-being. 

Tools for Activities Management

Here are some tools/applications you can use to fuel your quest for ‘Activities Management’: 

Summing up

Time spent on doing an activity is time not spent doing another. While a total schedule overhaul might not be for everyone, a little more awareness of ‘Activities Management’ will go a long way, increasing your time at hand. Once you categorise and prioritise your daily activities into the four buckets, you will have clarity on why you are pressed for time for things that can make your life more meaningful and your business successful.

All you need is to replace ‘Time Management’ with ‘Activities Management.’ 

By Manish Bansal

Manish is the Managing Director of SME Value Advisors, a platform that connects businesses with curated professionals who can deliver solutions. You can connect with him on manish@smevalueadvisors.com.

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