Time is a resource which is free, but priceless

Those who don’t respect time, the latter may punish them without their knowing that they have been punished
Time is a resource which is free, but priceless
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C. PHUNSOG 

Nature of Time:

Time gives humans a sense of something passing but, in reality, there is nothing that passes. Passage of time is really an illusion; our naïve perception of flow of time doesn’t correspond to reality. Time is not something that flows like a fluid, nor is it something that blows like the wind – both being driven by energy. Time is driven by existence, so to say; it has to do with ‘change’ only. Continuing existence of space and matter/energy gives the illusion of something passing even though there is nothing that really passes.

John D. Barrow, the British Astrophysicist has written: “The nature of time is one of those baffling problems that physicists have debated for centuries, but have made depressingly meagre progress in unravelling. New scientific theories, be they the relativity or the quantum theory, invariably bring with them a new perspective upon the nature of time, but they usually add another puzzling aspect to lie alongside those we already have, rather than presenting a decisive new viewpoint that replaces all that went before.”

Definition of time:

Contemplative:

What we see as time is not something tangible in itself but a change of things and thoughts. It is the measure or measurable period during which an action, a process or a condition continues its existence. Thus, time is only a non-spatial continuum that can be measured only in terms of events that succeed one another from past, through present, into future. Time is, therefore, a measure of continuous (non-stop) and consistent change in our surroundings - the steady passing of events before our senses.

Scientific (empirical):

Time is not a discrete phenomenon. Space and time are fundamentally related – it is impossible to imagine one independent of the other. That is to say, time and space constitute what has come to be termed the ‘time-space continuum’ that governs the universe. Accordingly, it can be said that for space to exist, time must pass and, for time to pass, space must exist - the two are each other’s property, so to say.

As per Albert Einstein’s ‘general theory of relativity’, time is the fourth dimension of the universe that governs cosmic phenomena; the other three being the three dimensions of space (length, breadth and height).

Measure and Age of Time:

Humans have learnt to measure passage of time through cyclical phenomena, such as, earth’s revolution around the sun (year), moon’s revolution around the earth (month) and earth’s rotation/spinning around its own axis (day). They have devised accurate instruments to measure time accordingly in the form of clocks, time-pieces or watches.

According to the science of cosmology, time and space of our universe were both born at the ‘big bang’. Accordingly, it can be said that both are now 13.8 billion ‘earth years’ old. 

Scientists predict that, just like there has been a beginning of time and space, there will be an end of both as well. These, in respect of our universe, will come about 14 billion earth-years from now.

Arrow of Time:

Like entropy, time has an arrow (a direction). In that sense, it is a vector quantity like force and gravity. Time’s arrow comprises past, present and future (in that order).

Many, however, believe that the distinction between past, present and future is just an illusion; only thing that is real is the present. Past is only something recorded in one’s brain/ mind and future is likewise only something imagined by one’s brain/mind - only the present is perceived/experienced by a living being through its mind.          

Time Dilation (Scientific):

Modern science has found that passage of time is not absolute; gravity has an effect on the speed with which time passes – stronger the gravity in a space-time frame, slower is the rate at which time passes. 

Likewise, time has found to be passing more slowly for a body moving in space.

It has been discovered that speed of light is the only constant in the universe; everything else is relative.

Time as a Resource:

Resource is defined as a supply of something that is available for productive use. Time is a resource which is free, but priceless. Spending of time as a resource means putting existence (space and energy/matter) to some use or purpose. Time is a resource available to all - sentient beings as well as inanimate matter (including energy) that exist - in equal measure. It is not like other resources such as natural endowments (like land and water); wealth of various kinds (like money and property), human/animal goodwill, etc. These other resources are available to different individuals and at different places in different measures and can even be saved or multiplied. Time, however, is a resource that cannot be saved or grown in any manner. For example, one can’t have a fixed deposit of time that can be redeemed at some stage in future. If available time is not utilised gainfully, it passes never to be available for use. Once someone has lost time, he or she can never retrieve and get it back. Thus, some may use the available time gainfully for productive purposes while others may while it away or squander it.

Peter Drucker, the management guru, has said: “Time is a peculiar resource, no matter how much more you want there is no more of it’.  Therefore, it is up to an individual what use he or she puts time to. Hence there is a need for ‘time management”.

 Time Management:

Time management means performing tasks and organising events to make the most productive use of the available time. The methods of time management include the following:

 Preparing a check-list of things to do daily and doing them accordingly.

 Making a work schedule every day and sticking to it.             

Setting calendars of tasks and events for a day, a week, a month and a year and sticking to these.

Prioritising things to be done and following the priority.

Time budgeting is a part of time management and it is advisable to budget an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year and a professional life among tasks right at its start.

It has been found that the fastest and the most effective way of doing many things is to do one thing at a time and the most important of these right away. One should not ordinarily try and do unconnected things simultaneously. If one does, the output will be way less than the potential.

Other Aspects of Time Management:

The ‘mantra of success’ in life is: “Persistent hard work and respect for time.” This should be translated into what one should be telling oneself over and over again: ‘When the going is good, don’t pause and relax, go the extra mile and when feelings are high, work overtime’.

Hard work is making the maximum use of the available time for productive purposes. It is the opposite of laziness (whiling away the available time).

It is only through persistent hard work that the long distances between ambition and performance/output can be traversed. Hard work has to be persistent as it has been rightly said: ‘A river water cuts through hard rocks not because of its force but because of its persistence.’

There has been found a general correlation between hard work, happiness and success. It can be safely said that happier a person, greater is the hardship he can endure in working and greater also is the success he can achieve. It has been found that if one works for a few hours a day early in the day, one remains happy for the whole day with overall output of the day as maximum leading to success. The same can be said of a week, a month, a year and a lifetime.  

Respect for Time:

Hence, coupled with persistent hard work there should be respect for time for achieving all dreams dreamt in life. Those who do not respect time, the latter may punish them in various ways without their knowing that they have been punished. Respecting time means doing everything in the time allotted/available for it.

 C. Phunsog, IAS (Retd.)

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