Here is a disclaimer! I am not an expert in the financial field, and I don’t have detailed knowledge of finances, especially the finance requirements of businesses. But then why am I writing this blog? There is another side of assets and liabilities in our life. You may be in business, serving somewhere or you are a student or a housewife. I am talking of time available to us. Every person has twenty-four hours available daily. I have heard some executives and young mothers say, “If I had forty-eight hours with me!” Every persons’ time balance increases by 24 hours at the stroke of midnight, not a second less not a second more. In the money world, when we start using credit cards indiscriminately or buy those yachts and buy chalets in St Moritz, your credit lines are going to be stretched. These then break at some time as it happened to a Mallya or a Neerav Modi.
Friends organise your time finances, or you may end bankrupt before you come to know. Every task on your to-do list, unread email, meeting request, project update, and goal requires time to complete. You wake up and realise before you think of this list, you know that you don’t have time to make this list! The actions and choices you make during the day have a compounding effect on your time. But you don’t have to go into “Time Debt”, you only need to tweak the way you do things, you plan your things. Even before you realise, you will have “Time Assets” with you.
If you are in “Time Debt”, you are not alone in this world. The whole world appears to be in this debt. There are reasons like wrong planning, procrastination, can’t say NO. We forget that you owe it to you and your family first. I am not saying that you come to the office late every day because you have home stuff to be completed. Plan and execute the home stuff the way you do things at the office. You are falling short of time at home because you take that extra half an hour wink, every day. You need to take that wink because you sleep late at night. You sleep late at night because you were making that presentation late in the night. You know what I mean. It is a vicious circle. Unless you plan these things both at home and work, you will never become debt-free.
A considerable number of people work late in the office or keep on working after coming home. Now I am sure you have understood what I mean. When you use a credit card, you are committing your future income to the credit card company. If you use the credit card as a convenience, then it is a different issue. If not, then you are in big trouble. You suddenly realise that after the credit card money is paid, you are not left with much cash and zero savings for the future.
How does time-debt start working in real life? You are working on a software project. Due to customer pressure or boss’s stares, you resolve the customer complaint, temporarily. By the time customer is back unhappily, you are handling another issue. So, you make another quick-fix patch. Within a short period, you know that you have supplied to the customer a quilt made up of different patches. What happens to your other projects? You have used your credit card here rather than using your debit card. Slowly you start realising that debt in any form is easy to take but hard to pay and you pay back much more. If the software company where you are working works this way, at some stage it will collapse.
The problems start when you don’t prioritise your work. Start saying No instead of Yes! You overcommit yourself and work longer hours to achieve it. We don’t realise the effects of time debt until it’s too late.
Time debt charges its interest, in the form of deficit in focus and attention. The more time you’ve loaned out to other tasks, the more those tasks weigh on your mind and steal your attention. For example, it’s much harder to focus on an upcoming deadline when you have tons of overdue tasks hanging over you.
Social media has become a significant reason for distraction. I am sure that during office hours, people must be getting distracted at least 50% of the times due to social media. The lack of focus is the debt, and with debt comes the interest payment. Delaying decisions is also a way of losing focus. Such delays by decision making people can cost monetarily as well as reputation-wise.
I will share a story which will show how delays can cost! A medium-sized vendor was supplying a component, an assembly, to a large vehicle manufacturer; the Vehicle Manufacturer (VM) owned the design for the component. There was a premature failure of the component in the field, in large numbers. The vendor did a lot of research and suggested some changes. For three years vendors suggestions were ignored. When the vendor took a stand, that he will stop production, everybody woke up. During these three years, the vendor and the vehicle manufacturer shared the warranty cost; but both lost their reputation in the field. The cost of loss of reputation could not be calculated. Add to this, various meetings, phone calls, travel in the market, which created stress between the two partners. The three-year delay caused and enormous hardships to all!
The classic case of debt taken without understanding the cost is seen in the example discussed above. I am sure the total cost to VM incurred due to the loss of goodwill must have been much more than the actual warranty costs.
In the same way, we should keep track of where we are “wasting” time daily. Wastage will include distraction, time lost for something unbudgeted because you could not say no! You have first rights on your time. So, when you need to withdraw additional time from your bank, do it for your work and not someone else’s job. Your “job” could include your rest too! Handle the item which leaks your energy, first. These are “must” items; so, unless these are completed, you don’t feel comfortable resting or even sleeping.
Importance of saying no is explained in the story I want to tell you. Years back, I used to go to the office on a bike. I would leave home, keeping sufficient time as a buffer for some unexpected problems. A friend used to go to his office in their office bus, but he would habitually miss the bus. Once he missed his bus and requested me for a lift. As we were about ten minutes from my office, he said, “Could you drop me to my office first?” His office was in another direction. I would have got late for my office. I told him, “Mate, I leave home at a particular time so that I can reach my office on time. Sorry!” I had learnt to say NO at a very early age! 🙂🙂