Thursday, 31 January 2013

Time and the Underachiever: How to Cheat on Time

"Oh you don't look a day older than you did in college! Time has been good to you."

That's a line we all love to hear.

Others that are bandied around every day and even experienced often include, 'Time is a great leveler, time is a great healer, with time comes wisdom...' However, one phrase that puts up the red flags is, "time and tide wait for none." Everyone knows it but, most of us are unable to prevent this lapse.

Most of us become well aware of (wasted) time once we cross mid-30s. For many it is a cosmetic awareness - hair dye and botox time. For others like me it is the awareness of a loss of opportunities. I was supposed to be this young prodigy, an early achiever but, somehow a huge chunk of my youth has gone into fighting for survival, building a career, taking care of dependents and self. Often, stuck with mortgages, children's education, caring for ageing parents and in-laws this is where we 'stop and stare' suddenly aware of a 'wasted' youth as far as personal achievements go.

All around us suddenly are these golden people who have broken the glass ceiling unlike us. How did they do it? What did these guys do when I was floundering and fighting against tide trying my best to keep afloat? When I look at most of them, they too are stuck with the exact same problems that I have and yet, they managed it.

Then it comes to me in a moment of deep understanding, "they somehow managed time."

Time management is an often bandied word in the corporate circles and life skills classes but, I wonder how many of us take it seriously in our life outside work.

At work we all manage timetables to the T, turning around projects spot on deadlines without fail and without batting an eyelid. But, the moment we step out of the office or even turn around from the home office we give up our vigil of time.

What we call a relaxed attitude is actually the root cause of "How I missed my Booker when 30! (or whatever is your equivalent award for it)"

Having spoken to many people who have squeezed out time from their busy schedules to complete personal projects like, working for an NGO, writing a book or creating hand-painted flower vases I have realized that everyone of them has carefully managed time.

Gardening along with the kids can be a great way to spend time with your children while winning that first prize at the flower show. Similarly, writing that needs some amount of  seclusion can be done at night instead of reading or watching TV. Those who love cooking should maintain a diary and jot down the recipes every time they create a masterpiece or blog them along with pictures that can be later used in a book.

I was recently speaking with someone who's third book has been launched a few weeks back and asked him, 'how do you manage writing with a full-time media job and two toddlers at home when your wife is also working full time?'

He smiled and said, "I carry my laptop everywhere. If there is a lull between programs or I get a place to sit at the Metro, I simply start typing. Working in the noise and clutter has made me immune to it. Nowadays, I type away at the dinning table while everyone, including me, is rushing through coffee and toast for breakfast. The noise makes my creative juices run..."

That was something. It reminded me how I used to take my books to the noisy college cafeteria and study while everyone around me was busy creating a ruckus. It used to make me feel highly focused on what I was doing. Also, studying Physics with strains of Country tunes and Math with Hard Rock banging around me. It made complete sense.

This gave me a great idea for coining a brand new phrase that I wanted to share with everyone here, "Use time, don't let it use you".

Hope to hear how you catch time by its tale and tame it please feel free to share your experiences.

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