Time And Sage Advice

Last updated 8 Aug 2016 . 4 min read

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When I was about 11 years old, I remember being obsessed with a contest that involved buying a very popular throat lozenge and collecting pieces of jigsaw that came in the packet, until you completed the set.

I am now forever put off that particular lozenge, having bought and consumed too many in a bid to win that national ‘contest’--which I am convinced nobody had won. It wasn’t possible. You could collect dozens of pieces and assemble the jigsaw, but there would always be one piece that wouldn’t fit--no matter how many sickly sweet lozenges you bought.

Now, older and anti-lozenge as I am, I realise the idea of time management is somewhat similar. No matter how much you try to make those pieces of your life fit to ‘manage time’, there will always be one bit or aspect that will be left out.

I travelled by local train for about four good years and what I found inside each compartment--especially the ladies compartment--was that every train that travelled from Virar to VT had its own time-microcosm in it. Here were woman who travelled hours to work, managing both households and unrelenting guilt to make everything work. They chopped vegetables on the train, knitted, sewed, meditated, and even formed bhajan groups so as to make effective use of the time they spent crammed in that squally little space.

And yet, these women looked tired--and sometimes sad--because no matter how many kilos of bhindi you slice on the go, there is always going to be something else that you haven’t accomplished in the kitchen when you get back home.

I also know of young women, armed with the supposed freedom of being aware of a lot of the more modern concepts of how to live life, do the same. In other ways. Cram gym, work, post-work yoga, assignment other than work to feel that creative sense of purpose, manuscript in the making and so on. And yet, they feel the guilt of not doing enough, of leaving something out from their lives.

I wrote about balance some time ago, and it is impossible to talk about balance without referring to time, because--at the risk of repetition--both are constructs set up for guilt.

Time is a big lumbering bully in the playground called life and you must hand over your lunch money in order to not get pummelled everyday.

In our urban lives, it is not possible to manage time effectively without always feeling like you have left something crucial out of your life.  This sense of inadequacy is a cultural infection, where the obsession with time management has set our brains to rot.

You cannot ‘manage’ time as much as you can stop glorifying ‘busy’. It’s okay. You can’t do everything. Something--either a hobby or a cause, occasionally a child’s watertight schedule, or a husband’s sock--is going to go missing from life.  It’s okay.

You don’t have to perfect. You can miss that important aspect of your life and still be happy.

You’ve had a long day. Let the idea of ‘perfect’ that comes with the idea of ‘time management’ lie in the clothes pile on the floor for one night. You can pick it tomorrow. Or not.

Either ways, you are doing okay.

image not our own 

Sukanya Venkatraghavan
Sukanya Venkatraghavan is the author of the recently published fantasy novel Dark Things. She has worked with publications like Filmfare and Marie Claire in the past and is currently cooking up her next work of fantasy.

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