Entrepreneurship: Time Management (I) - By: Musbahu El Yakub | Dailytrust

Entrepreneurship: Time Management (I)

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin

After our lives, the core resources that we always “play” around with to achieve whatever it is we aspire are essentially our health, intellect (in this context to include both our minds and our emotions) and application of effort and time. Other key resources are relationships and finances. But of all the six mentioned, the most important is time.

With the appropriate application of effort and some luck, we can get back or rebuild our health, relationships and knowledge and finances if we damage or lose them. However, time is not recoverable because it is an independent and continuously eroding asset. A second loss is not replaceable; but we can make use of the subsequent seconds that nature blesses us with, hopefully better!

Ashley Ormon puts it succinctly; “You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future.” Indeed, life itself is nothing but pieces of time we have and what we do within their bounds. Sadly, many of us have no respect for this fundamental dimension of our existence.

Visit any government or private office in Nigeria and chances are that most of the visitors you meet had no appointment. They only showed up hoping and bursting into people’s offices. They waste their and the officers’ time who should, ideally, not entertain them at all. Our weekends are crowded with weddings and parties, many of which require that we travel to some distant locations.

But our successes are the positive consequences of the right things we do within and not just the spaces between the bounds of time. From philosophers to military officers, businessmen to public administrators, it is easy to see that many highly successful people lived “short” lives. Yet, we read about or remember them and feel as if they are still alive. This is because they did so much within the time they had on this earth that we cannot but reckon with them. Simply put, they were highly conscious of time and alert to how best to make use of it.

Over this and perhaps the next two weeks, we will take up how to make wise use of time. But first, let us start by taking note of a few of the great time wasters we engage in in our environment.

Perambulation: Apologies to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Obviously, the law of nature is that we must apply effort before we can hope to achieve our desired results. Unfortunately, many of us are yet to distinguish between “useless effort” and “productive effort”. A useless effort is the one we apply but which does not enhance our chances of achieving worthy output, or even if it does, it comes at unjustifiably enormous costs. In other words, a useless effort may be effective but it is very inefficient. On the other hand, a productive effort is both effective and efficient with the results achieved justifying the effort applied.

Relationship of no value: As Africans, we are biased by culture to be positively social with other people. That is all fine and good, but we must engage with others sensibly. There are family, friends, colleagues and associates that are highly valuable to us in more ways than we can count. But there are also those who are nothing but time wasters and perhaps negative influences on us. We must minimise our contacts and engagements with the latter category by remembering that we are only as good as the quality of people we keep close to us.

TV, phones and social media: We waste so much time watching television and on phones and social media on the pretext that we get news, and for some, entertainment. The truth is that we can get any relevant business, economic and political news on our computers in real time while we are doing our productive work. The hours people spend daily watching television and on social media can be put to much more productive use.

Delays and lengthy meetings: As a people, we have come to normalise delays in starting meetings and events as African. That is not only disrespectful to one another, it is sad, shameful, wasteful and highly unproductive. A meeting of nine people which is delayed by 30 minutes and in which 30 more avoidable minutes are wasted has cost you, as a participant, one hour of your life. Beyond that, it has cost the local economy a one-man traditional workday.

Waiting for others: Because of our perambulation approach to achieving certain things, many of us are comfortable waiting for others endlessly. If you visit an office without an appointment, you may have to wait endlessly if the “kind” official agrees to meet you. Sadly, because of the same mindset, even officials who have given you an appointment for 11am can keep you waiting endlessly. This is absolutely wrong to do and debasing to accept.

As things currently stand, the empirical use of our time suggests that we are, largely, a people content with putting in effort without much focus on the desired results. This is akin to the running around of a headless chicken. Until we discipline ourselves and begin to hold one another responsible to high standards of the good use of our time, we will continue to apply wrong inputs and, unsurprisingly, continue to earn paltry outputs. 

Today, we just introduced the intricate linkage between time and life, and also some of what wastes colossal amounts of our time in our environment without adding corresponding value in our lives. Next week, we will begin to take up on the things we should be doing to optimise the use of our time.

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