Tuesday, March 12, 2013

If you consider an activity important, you will make time for it

The first thing I wear after my morning shower is not an item of clothing nor a perfume, it is my watch because I think it is extremely important to be on time in everything you do. If in the unlikely event where it is not possible, you must at least have the courtesy to inform the concerned parties. However, that is no excuse for being late every time.

I am often told I create an unnecessary fuss about being on time. Why shouldn't I? Why should "I will see you at 7PM" mean "I will see you anytime between 7.10PM to 8.00PM"? Why should "I will be there in 5 minutes" mean "I will see you in 20 minutes", unless of course, you are an extraterrestrial from a planet that spins faster or slower than Earth?  The idea of time emerged from the need of having a  standard universal scale to synchronize different activities. Our poly-chromatic perception of time leads to losses of varying nature.

The first loss is that of time that could be well utilized in a productive or leisure activity of your choice, as and when you fell like. This could further translate into different losses -  loss of health due to the undue stress these delays cause, loss of wealth due to the money that could be earned in the process, loss of respect, for the person who should have been on time and loss of interest in the purpose of the meeting or activity in the first place. Personally, I do take a person's timeliness as a statement of his professionalism and commitment to the objective of the meeting.

Moreover, I do not buy the argument that we Indians should be okay operating on a 'stretchable' timeline than a 'standard' timeline. We claim we work harder because we spend 16 hours a day working. If you are an Indian, think about honest answers to the following questions. What percentage of the office hours do you spend doing productive work? How long are your lunch breaks? How frequent are your tea breaks? How much time do you spend attending to personal commitments at work? How many deadlines do you miss? How much time do you spend deliberating a decision and shifting blame? Whatever be the reasons, these answers offer glaring insights into our delusional perception of our work commitment in the veil of the number of hours spent at work. While we were once a great civilization, by modern world standards, we are highly inefficient and cannot expect ourselves to become an economic giant in the future.

Let me try and quantify this loss for you. We are a country of one billion people. Nearly 60% of population falls in the productive work force age. Taking a conservative estimate, assuming each person wastes 10 minutes of his time, you have 600 million people wasting 6 billion minutes or 100 million hours every day of work time. While it is a crude estimate, our lack of productivity or our inefficiency  is a strong reason why we have not been able to bring about equitable growth in the country.

I am afraid I will have to stop my rant here. I have exhausted the time I had assigned to writing this post. In the meanwhile, I hope you do take out some time to ponder over what I have just said. And God save you if you are late for a meeting with me. 

1 comment:

LIFT: Living in Free Thought said...

I love that you stopped this particular post because you spent too much time on it. Great ending!