manage time effectively

Prioritise to manage your time effectively

"Cognisant means being aware or mindful of one's responsibilities, and being in control of them." - Radhakrishnan Pillai
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All of us are living in an extremely fast world now, with a dire need for effective time-management. But one can always learn from Chanakya’s centuries-old Arthashastra. According to him, being mindful of what we have to do is the biggest tip for managing time.

Chanakya had said: “Thus, he (superintendent of cattle) should be cognisant of the number of animals.” (2.20.15).

Cognisant means being aware or mindful of one’s responsibilities, and being in control of them. Hence, in this line, Chanakya says that—at any given point of time—the head of the cattle department should know the exact number of cattle his people are handling.

We can also use this verse to guide us in our daily activities: 

Understand your goals

The first step in time-management is to know where you want to reach, and by when. Most of us are running without an agenda or clarity of purpose. Always question yourself: Why am I doing this? Am I supposed to do this? What results am I going to get by doing this activity?

Many of us do not know our job profiles properly. If you are not sure, ask your boss and be clear of his expectations. Make a list of the roles that you play—department head, team leader, project in-charge, parent, child, etc. Then, under each role, write your responsibilities and prioritise them.

Note everything

When you are in the midst of your regular work, there can be various interruptions. Some are external disturbances, while others created by your own mind: Phone calls, a new idea, a bill that you had forgotten to pay—all these keep happening. Such events disturb our current workflow.

At such times, note your thoughts down immediately on a sheet of paper, or even on your mobile or computer. Then you will not forget it. Your mind will be at peace. Then, after making the note, continue doing your current work at hand, as that’s a priority.

Check your list regularly

When you are free, look at the list you have made and take action on each item. A busy manager once said, “I look at my to-do list at least a dozen times each day. It constantly reminds me of what I have to do, and I accordingly make time for it in my busy schedule.”

The moment you have finished some work, make a note in a relevant file or folder. This can be useful when you prepare your reports. It’s all about being “…cognisant of the number of animals.”

Just keep in mind that all this advice can be useful only if one is self-disciplined. No amount of book knowledge or time-management courses will help if you get carried away by those urgent matters of ‘others’.

Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai is an Indian management thinker, author, and Founder of Atma Darshan and Chanakya Aanvikshiki. Dr Pillai has extensively researched Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the 3rd century BC treatise and incorporated it into modern management.

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