By Ram K Seshu & Anand Chhabra

Surveys carried out to get an idea why an individual at the workplace doesn’t get desired results even though s/he had high potential reveal that some of the issues young people faced in corporate world were: burnouts, anger, depression, overload, under performance, high attrition rate, etc. Ability to manage these issues depends on the work-life environment.

One issue that stands out is ‘managing time’. Look at the variables involved in managing time: nature of work; urgency, importance; individual attitudes and behaviours; working style and approach; frame of mind; thought process prevailing at a given time; priorities—your own, of others, of the organisation; resources—it’s a long list. Managing time is thus the most difficult task at any given period or environment—at work place, at home, in schools, on the playing field. All these lead to huge stress, anxiety, frustration and finally depression. It directly affects team performance, making achievement of organisational goals a challenge.

We ignore that stress is internal and not external. Whatever be the nature and source of stress, it is our reaction to a given situation that causes stress. Reluctance to say “no” means we end up doming someone else’s tasks —making the shirkers happy. Unable to find time for our own goals/ tasks, adds to the stress.

Examining the issue of time management from the paradigm of managing tasks, and not time can be helpful. Fortunately, a basic design concept was available in the “Eisenhower’s Urgent/ Important Principle”, improved upon by Stephan Covey. His matrix suggested the tasks be classified in four quadrants on the basis of their nature namely, important and urgent. Thus, the four quadrants of his matrix divides the tasks: crisis & pressing; preparedness, preventive & relationships; Interruptions and trivial; and finally time wasters.

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We realised that timeline is an important role aspect in completion of a task. A task—significant or otherwise—will become a pressing task if not attended to at the right time. The task may have been classified in quadrant 2,3 or 4 originally, but it would start moving towards the crisis quadrant, in such a situation. It would become both Important and urgent. In crises situations, we are forced to be ‘reactive’ and hence quality of the output will be a challenge. Thus, there would be three dimensions to managing a task: its significance; expectations in relation to timeline in which it is to be completed and the quality of the deliverable.

Task management is superior to time management as it provides the required flexibility, personalisation and customisation. It not only helps in the timely completion of the tasks, but also helps create a cheerful environment in the organization. Indirectly, it helps the organisation to always be on its toes, remain an innovative organisation. Prioritization of tasks, seen from this perspective will, therefore, directly lead the individuals and teams to function optimally, with desirable and sustainable levels of stress and anxiety.

Ram Seshu is the Author and Founder of Born to Win Learning Service, Bangalore and Anand Chhabra is the Director. For more information visit They can be can be contacted at and



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