0708- Time Management

Induction for Year 1 Medical students on August 22, 2006 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.

I. BACKGROUND READING (to be given out 2 days before)

Key word and key terms

ˇ         Islamic concepts of time

  • European concepts of time

ˇ         Time perspective of events

ˇ         Importance of time

ˇ         Quality of time

ˇ         Measurement of time

  • Time: planning & prioritizing

ˇ         Methods of prioritization

  • Scheduling: calendar/diary

ˇ         Transition time

ˇ         Discretionary, and linkages

  • Scheduling the day
  • Balance in time management
  • Problems in time management

ˇ         Poor time planning

ˇ         Habits and routines

  • Procrastination
  • Punctuality

ˇ         Interruptions

  • Meetings




ˇ               Different Concepts of Time

ˇ               Time Perspective of Events

ˇ               Importance and Quality of Time

ˇ               Measurement of Time



ˇ               Methods of Prioritization

ˇ               Scheduling Time using a Calendar/Diary

ˇ               Transition, Discretionary, and Linkages

ˇ               Scheduling the Day



ˇ               Self Versus Work

ˇ               Self Versus Family

ˇ               Self Versus Community

ˇ               Imbalance Among Acts of Ibadat



ˇ               Poor Time Planning

ˇ               Habits and Routines

ˇ               Punctuality

ˇ               Interruptions

ˇ               Others



ˇ               Good Reasons for Calling Meetings

ˇ               When not to Call Meetings

ˇ               Success of Meetings

ˇ               Decisions at Meetings.



Concepts of time

The underlying concepts influence the efficiency of time use. In pre-Islamic Arabia time was looked at as a dangerous destructive phenomenon, dahr. Islam considers time important, finite, and fleeting. Time is a resource and an opportunity at the disposal of humans. Some time periods and days are of higher quality than others. Human perception of time has innate limitations; humans cannot perceive very quick or very slow events. The modern European concept of time is that of a valuable commodity used for material gain whether at work or at play. Time can be bought or sold like any other commodity.


Time: planning & prioritizing

Good time management assures success. Events can be classified into 4 categories depending on their importance and urgency. Urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent but important, and not urgent and not important. Some activities like salat are time-sensitive and must be put on the schedule at the right time. Important things even if not the most urgent should be given most priority. Priority is given to essential needs rather than wants. Ibadat has the first priority. Next are biological needs such as sleep and food. Time must be allocated for the family, rest, recreation, and earning livelihood. Prioritization decisions should be maximizing gains and minimizing losses. Stakeholders must be given priority in time allocation decisions. All time prioritization decisions must be by conscious choice and not passive following of others. A diary or calendar should be used to schedule the day’s activities. Proper scheduling requires attention to transitional time, discretionary time, and functional linkages.


Balance in time management

The following balances must be observed in time management: self and family, self and community. Imbalance among various acts of ‘ibadat should be avoided.


Problems in time management

Manifestations of poor time planning are: poor scheduling, poor prioritizing, lack of contingency plans, trying to do everything and not delegating, poorly kept diary that is incomplete and with conflicts, overwhelming work, changing priorities, and too many meetings. Managers get overwhelmed with too much work to be done in a short time. Meetings waste time and achieve little if they have no objective, no agenda, no time limits, and late coming. Many mistakes in time planning arise out of failure to anticipate events such that emergencies get out of control and deadlines are missed. Other problems in time management are: procrastinations, inflexible routines and habits, reactive and not pro-active behavior, punctuality, and interruptions (visitors, lengthy conversations, and the telephone.


Good reasons for calling meetings are: goal clarification, information, decision-making, introducing new ideas, conflict resolution, and resolving implementation bottle-necks. Meetings should not be called for the following: an alternative to a meeting is available, not enough time to prepare, key players not available, and for personal/sensitive matters. Success of meetings depends on: calling meetings only when actually necessary, having a clear agenda, maintaining focus on the agenda, and listening to others. Meetings are the commonest time-waster in organizations. It is more important to do something about problems than to talk about them. Meetings that waste your time have the following characteristics: no objective, no agenda, no time limits, and participants come late. You have several alternatives of dealing with such meetings. If you have a good excuse do not attend. Finish your priority work and be late. Arrive on time and leave early. Bring work to do during boring meeting sessions. Excuse yourself for 15-20 minutes to do priority work. Things that wreck meetings are: invite as many people as possible, invite anyone, cover as many topics as possible, discuss important issues last, and spend most of the time on unimportant issues. Decisions taken at group or team meetings must be binding. If they are not there is no purpose in holding the meeting. If the meeting is meeting in a role other than decision-making, it is fair to inform the participants of that.

II. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (to be given out at group discussion. Choose items to discuss in view of time)


Concepts of time

  1. Think of a particular community that you know well or have lived in and describe the general concepts about time that are held
  2. What differences in concepts about time do you identify between your community and other communities you have known about
  3. Explain how concepts about time are influenced by the underlying cultural values and norms

Importance of time

  1. Explain in your own words what you understand  by the statement that time is a resource
  2. Think of your community or any other society that you know and describe the attitude to time and its importance. What are the practical consequences of such attitudes?
  3. Explain how the attitude to importance of time determines differences in achievement among individuals, communities and even nations?

Quality of time

  1. Explain in your own words why some hours, days, or months are better than others?
  2. Why is Friday better than other days of the week from a community or societal point of view

9.      Explain how understanding of the differences between the different values of times can influence decisions about what tasks to undertake at particular times

Measurement of time

  1. Give an example of human failure to perceive correctly very rapid events
  2. Give an example of human failure to perceive correctly very slow events
  3. Explain what type of calendar (Islamic or Gregorian) is used in your community.
  4. How good are you in estimating time periods without using a watch? Can you suggest an experiment to compare estimation ability among various members of the workshop?


Multiple priorities

14.  Give examples of the following criteria of prioritization: (a) first come first served (b) start with easy things (c) start with the most difficult (d) start with the most urgent though not most important (e) start with the most important, though not most urgent

  1. Give examples of conflict between wants and needs
  2. Give examples of conflict between wants and musts

Scheduling time

  1. Describe the use of a calendar or of a ‘to-do’ list in your community
  2. How well do people in your community keep appointments: turning up or turning up on time
  3. What are the possible causes of schedule conflict?


  1. Describe the attitude to and practice of late-coming in your community?
  2. What sanctions, if any, does your community impose on late-comers
  3. What are the usual excuses for late-coming
  4. How can you tell a genuine from a non-genuine excuse?


Balance in time management

  1. Give examples from your community of imbalance in time allocation
  2. What are the social consequences for the family of time allocation imbalance
  3. What are the health consequences of imbalance in time allocation


Managing interruptions

  1. Give examples from your experience of time wasting because of the following: (a) drop-in visitors (b) telephones (c) disorganized paperwork
  2. What are the polite ways in your community of getting rid of an unwelcome visitor
  3. How can you politely cut off a rambling useless conversation

Poor time planning

30.  Give examples from your experience when schedule conflicts occurred. Why was the cause and what was the cause and what were the consequences?

31.  Explain in your own words what contingency planning means. Give an examples

32.  Explain how changing priorities in the middle of an activity causes scheduling problems

Habits and routines

  1. What in your experience are the commonest causes of procrastination?
  2. How can a person be actually busy while not being productive
  3. Why do people feel comfortable with routine even if it is unproductive and inefficient
  4. Why in your opinion many people tend to be reactive and not pro-active


  1. What is the most common reason for calling meetings in your organization
  2. Describe meetings in your experience that were successful and the reasons for the success
Describe meetings in your experience that failed and the reasons for the failure

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. August 2007