“Beautiful faces and loud, empty places,
Look at the way that we live,
Wastin’ our time on cheap talk and wine
Left us so little to give”
When the Eagles crooned ‘Best of my love’ many moons ago, little they’d have realised that they are articulating time management – something we seem to desperately need in the times we’re living in.
On one hand, we seem to have all the time in the world for few things, on the other we are always pressed for time. Gym? No time. TV? Any time. Reading? No time. Watching movie? Any time. Spending time with family? No time. Chatting on Gtalk? Any time. Updating ourselves on current issues? No time. Updating our status on Facebook? Any time. Learning a music instrument? No time. Learning to use Twitter? Any time.
Few years ago, a friend of mine from Mumbai had come for a sojourn in Vadodara and the first thing she told me about the city was “People seem to have a lot of time here. Everyone seems to be always available. I asked an ex-colleague to meet up during her office lunch break, and she easily found time and ended up extending the lunch break to two hours!”
I responded by telling her that ‘Time’ was the greatest privilege citizens of Vadodara enjoy, as compared to metro cities like Mumbai, where a mere commute from home to office requires one to get up at 5 or 6 am and synchronize with the local train or even water supply schedule. “Then why don’t they use the ‘perks of time’ they earn everyday?” She valued the ‘perks of time’ because she never has had an opportunity to earn them in Mumbai. We take this privilege for granted, just as we do for democracy and freedom.
Once during an office meeting, our boss (we consider him more of a colleague than boss) rightly said that the best thing about working in Vadodara is you have the option of going home during the lunch hour. In Mumbai, it would be impossible for anyone to imagine doing so, where they rely on the Dabbawalas to provide them their daily bread, whilst they earn butter. No matter how hard we seem to work, we call it a day after 7 pm and start afresh the other day around 9.30 or 10.00 am, except for a few days when the deadlines are to be battled or commitments honoured.
So what do we do after going home? Watch TV would be the obvious response. After all, we’ve earned that luxury after slogging all through the day! Do we really work so hard that can’t unwind with a book in hand, walking on treadmill, learn a music instrument, join Salsa classes, master a new skill, pick up that canvas biting dust on the corner and paint something or scribble a few lines of prose or poetry on a paper, learn how to make a Bonsai, learn a new recipe and try it, or simply ride bicycle across the vicinity with Ipod as your friend that familiarizes you with artists from across the globe and ages, right from Ghalib to Gaga.
If evening is too hectic for you and television is your oxygen, it still leaves little room for excuses. Remember, the sun rises at 6 am? Yeah it really does, if only you care to watch it in its splendorous glory during a morning walk, workout at gym, reading newspaper (we all subscribe them but how many of us can recall what Pritish Nandy, Bachi Kakaria, Jug Suraiya, Shekhar Gupta, Farid Zakaria, Talvin Singh or worse still, Shobhaa De wrote in their last column?). If newspaper and exercise isn’t your morning cup of tea, you can read a book of quotes, poetries or religious scriptures (they aren’t as boring as they’re made out to be), or play a music instrument and begin your day.
If a guy or girl is single, they’d waste time by hanging around with friends. Waste time, because we usually love hearing our own voice during such chats. If married or in a relationship, they’d waste time shopping and roaming around aimlessly – which is something they could even do on weekends. If not these, they’d waste time surfing TV channels replete with trailors and ads with no relevance, debates with no conclusion, news with no use, and soaps with no content. Of late, almost all ads that you see on TV appear to be condom ads, be it ads of aftershave, gel, perfume, deodorant, apparel or chocolate.
The ‘debate shows’ on television do offer you insights, but do you even get to hear any particular speaker’s opinion amid the chaos? The songs can be enjoyed on music channels rather than an I-pod while riding bicycle during late evening, but do we ever get to hear a full song on music channels? The stories can be enjoyed on TV soaps and films rather than a fiction book. But do we get to watch them without commercial breaks?
With a sedentary lifestyle that we lead, problems like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes have become way of life. Furthermore, we rue about not having done what we always wanted to do with our lives – resonating the Pink Floyd song ‘Time’ which goes:
“And then the one day you find
Ten Years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun
And you run and you run
To catch up with the sun
But it’s sinking”
Hence, people end up making resolutions on New Year Eve or birthdays – to lose weight, to quit smoking or drinking, to spend quality time with family, to learn a new skill like dance, music, painting, sculpting, poetry writing, or filmmaking. The resolutions end up with the clichéd excuse, “I just don’t get time”.
There’s a quote that goes: For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned. We need to set our priorities right. I have nothing against television. I love watching Highway on my plate and Making of Kingfisher Calendar on NDTV Good Times, All About Ads on NDTV, Just Books on NDTV Profit, and Now Showing on CNN IBN 7 and catch up with them as and when I get the opportunity to do so.
But most time of my day is spent on a 45-min. morning walk, a focussed 8-hr work during office hours, reading for two hours, writing fiction, prose or poetry for at least one hour, late evening cycling with I-pod dishing out classics, and a movie or two on weekend at multiplex or a DVD on home theatre, playing the guitar on alternate days for half an hour, make short film or brainstorm for short film concepts with like-minded friends keeps me too busy. I just don’t get time.