Where is the time? This is the general refrain that one regularly hears from a modern day harried person. Everybody is pressed for time. Has the time really shrunk? The physical time is going at its regular pace as it has since eternity, but it is our perception that time seems to have shrunk.    

I think it is our insecurity which gives us the feeling that we are not achieving enough and hence the perception of shrinkage of time. This leads to anxiety and unhappiness. We sometimes seem to be following the maxim “we are running all the time but going nowhere”.  And during the COVID pandemic that insecurity is further increased that we are missing out on something.

The more choices we have the more insecure we feel since missing out is a constant threat and fear at the back of our mind. One of the outcomes of this insecurity is the multitasking behavior that lots of people exhibit. For fear of loosing out they would like to do many things at the same time with the result that nothing is done properly. This insecurity results in a feeling of emptiness since we always feel that we could have achieved more. Thus anxiety and worry is a sign of perception that there is not enough time.

A powerful brain which can evaluate all the choices can give us peace of mind. Such a brain is developed through Sanyam which Sage Patanjali defines as a combination of concentration, contemplation and meditation on a single thought. However presently children right from childhood are bombarded with innumerable choices which create attention deficit behavior and do not help them improve their concentration.

All great people manage their time well.  In fact I feel that greatness of a person is defined by how well he or she manages their time. They do their work by being totally immersed in the work at hand. They do not fret or worry about what could or should have been.  With passage of time their body of work adds up to a considerable amount and shows up as a part of their achievements.

Mahatma Gandhi also called Gandhiji as a mark of respect, was a great manager of his time.  To him every small thing had a value and hence he devoted all his attention and energies to the work in hand. Whether it was working on Charkha (spinning wheel) or launching a major national movement; all things were equally important to him and endowed with a powerful brain he focused on them one at a time with tremendous concentration.

There is an anecdote about Gandhiji’s time management. A person was given an appointment with him for two minutes. People were very curious on what that person will he be able to discuss in two minutes with Mahatma Gandhi let alone get a solution to his problem. So after his appointment was over his friends asked him about the outcome of his meeting. He told them that Gandhiji gave 150% of his attention to him during those two minutes and  he felt he got the solution to his problem!

Similarly Einstein, the high priest of time was never flustered not did he complain about time wastage. Once a famous European scientist came to meet Einstein by train which was quite late.  The scientist apologized profusely to Einstein for having to wait for him at the station. Einstein calmly replied that there was no problem since he used the opportunity to think about a physics problem he was working on.

Einstein once jokingly explained the relativistic nature of time; “If you are with a beautiful girl in a park the hours appear to be minutes while if you are sitting on a hot plate then even a minute is like an hour”.  Inadvertently he gave a very good explanation of the perception of time.

Thus when we enjoy our work then the sense of time simply vanishes and we are completely immersed in the work. All of us have experienced this feeling sometime in our lives. That enjoyable feeling comes from the power of concentration and internal security. Somehow we do not teach or inculcate this habit in our children.

The increasing power of concentration also gives us a perspective in life since it allows us to evaluate large number of choices. This helps us to differentiate between the important and trivial issues, allowing us to focus on the important ones which give us the luxury of doing things at a leisurely pace without hurry. Besides it also makes us reduce our greed and help us live sustainably.

Thus to create better and well balanced citizens we need to inculcate in our children the power of concentration and focus on work at hand.  They will then have all the time in the world to do great and wonderful things.