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And then he said “I don’t have time”

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Quote of the Month


Life is a very eventful journey, full of twists and turns, ever-ready to cramp you with loads of to-dos. Life is a bustle of activity, repeatedly demanding an increase in the number of hours per day. Life is fun—but only if the to-dos don’t overwhelm you. Life is a pain in the neck—but only if you don’t acquire the skills to save time.


What my experience of working with my classmates had revealed unto me, is the sad reality that most youngsters of my generation today have been deprived of all skills necessary for saving time and hence, losing effectiveness in  life, and decreasing efficiency in their endeavours. People we generally come across are ‘men of the moment’—the Urdu phrase “Jab hoga tou dekha jaae ga” (we’ll cross the bridge when it comes) being one of the most-repeated ones in our procrastinating society. This highly corrupted DMR (mental script) can largely be held responsible for the rapidly-rising levels of stress and related psychological and consequent physiological disorders. The lack of any pre-planning and a clear line of action necessitates that there is never quite an option except being a frequent pronouncer of the aforementioned statement. This is further aggravated by our stubbornness and adamant refusal to learn from our experiences, leave alone learning from those of others.


And then, when encountered with an entirely new challenge, we proudly—or not so proudly—declare, “I don’t have time”, though the reality shall rather be phrased as, “I have miserably failed to save time even when I easily could”.


After all, blame game is our national sport, and we, its veterans.


The question lies not in how, but in why everyone on this planet is a contender for the prize of the busiest person ever. And the problem lies in our inability to reflect upon our activities, our failure to utilize those multitudinous times when we claim that we are bored, to do something which is actually of some worth.


As mentioned above, waiting for the eleventh hour before initiating an action is a highly disadvantageous tactic—and it is not difficult to perceive why. What guarantee do we have that we will not be faced by any undesired situation in the course of our action? What guarantee do we have that our plans will execute perfectly, without any undesired side-effects, which may ruin everything, bringing us back to where we started? ‘Crossing the bridge when it comes’ is a strategy that does not allow any flexibility in our plans—how can one possibly improvise a plan which is suited solely to fulfill the needs of the eleventh hour? In the longer run, the effect is even more disastrous: paralysis of the ability to think out of the box and reach creative solutions.


So here, the question arises: how can we break out of the cycle of our busy, mundane, monotonous lives, which do not even allow us space for our own selves? The answer lies in utilization of what are usually referred to as ‘dead times’. These ‘dead times’ are either times wasted in frivolous activities, or just allowed to pass by doing absolutely nothing—not realizing that we will be answerable for these wasted times in the world Hereafter. In some cases, it might involve cutting down on a few of one’s unimportant interests, or long hours of sleep. The year before the last, I participated in Buraq Space Camp (a corporate social responsibility project of the Interactive Group), held at Islamabad. There were forty competitors in the competition, which included twenty-eight boys. Now these twenty-eight boys had a total of four toilets to use, meaning one toilet per seven boys. Such a situation meant that after the wake-up at six in the morning, there was a huge line outside the toilets. In order to save the time wasted in the daily dose of early morning toilet-induced chaos, I employed a simple technique: waking up fifteen minutes before the wake-up call. And quite predictably, a huge deal of time was saved, which I did use in other, more useful activities.


Yet another instance can be utilization of ‘dead time’ while in a journey. Of course, if you are one driving the vehicle, the time being spent cannot be termed as ‘dead’. But if this is not the case, and nor are you pillion riding on a motorbike, these journey times can be so very effectively used to read, check and respond to email, or in case of students, review concepts or scan through textbooks. In fact, it is also ideal to sleep in the journeys. Talking from a student’s perspective, a good sleep in the car while returning home from school is an excellent way to get a good afternoon sleep. In this way, the time drain which occurs due to afternoon naps (which easily turn into long slumbers) can be done away with.


These were just two instances of where ‘dead times’ can be utilized to do something effective, to name just a few. There are so many more examples where ‘dead times’ can be brought to good use. All we need to do is discover where we can possibly cut down on these ‘dead times’, the distribution of whom varies according to one’s own schedule and occupation. This will yield two advantages. Firstly, one will be freed of boredom. Secondly, there will be a dramatic fall in the use of the sentence “I don’t have time”.


Just for your information, this article in itself is a manifestation of a trick of saving time—it was written in the airplane on my return journey to my native Karachi, from Islamabad. 



Areeb Nafey Uddin Siddiqui is a Timelenders family member and is currently an A level student at Generation’s School, Karachi. He has attended the Strategic Visions, Strategic Time Management and Visions Retreat (Malaysia) workshops. He is simultaneously a poet, satirical writer, and also addresses serious issues like organizational and personal skills. He writes in both, English and Urdu. He has also conducted the Strategic Time Management training in his school for the domestic staff. Currently, he is doing an extensive internship with Timelenders.






Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen is another dynamic read from the Harvard Negotiation Project. Bruce Patton is also the co-author of the group’s earlier publication Getting to Yes, an international bestseller. 


Difficult Conversations analyzes the core reasons why we find bringing up certain issues so difficult, and often so impossible, that we avoid them altogether. However, whether we like it or not, the necessity to have these conversations presents itself in all human relationships; talking to your child’s teacher about his progress, telling a co-worker that her work is not up to par, confronting a friend who is taking advantage of your kindness, talking to a wife about her negligent habits etc. etc. 


Through years of research the authors conclude that regardless of the situation in which they occur, all difficult conversations have a similar structure. By analyzing this structure, they clarify why difficult conversations often explode like grenades and what we can do to make sure they don’t. 


The analysis of this structure starts by evaluating why such conversations make us uneasy, the reasons why they fail to get positive results and what we can do to make sure we become better communicators. The book decodes the very foundation of difficult conversations and imparts the ‘skills needed to take a serious disagreement within a business organization and transform it from a drag on competitiveness into an engine for innovation…make a marriage more enjoyable…and make relations between parents and teenagers something far better than a warzone’. 


In addition to making the entire process smoother and more constructive, using these skills also helps to reduce our anxiety and stress before, during and after having these tough talks. The authors write, ‘Eliminating fear and anxiety is an unrealistic goal. Reducing fear and anxiety and learning how to manage that which remains are more obtainable’. 


The process starts by a no-nonsense ‘learning’ skill that involves viewing any difficult conversation in three different variations; the “what happened?” conversation, the feelings conversation, and the identity conversation. The “what happened?” conversation abandons arguments as to who’s right or wrong, stops assumptions that the other person said something on purpose and stops the blame game. The tendency to do all three things above turns difficult conversations into disaster conversations by blocking the progression of meaningful talk, also often making them personal and ugly.


The second variation, the feelings conversations, is very critical since ‘feelings are often at the heart of difficult conversations’. Feelings that play an intricate role in whether a difficult conversation becomes easy or devastating are not only yours but also those of the other party. As a rule, we keep emotions and any discussion on feelings out of such conversations. This is where we go wrong and the book tells us why. 


The entire section on emotions is especially intriguing to read since Asians are, perhaps correctly, rumored to have tempestuous temperaments and tend to think more with their hearts than their heads. The reasons why proper expression of emotions is important in difficult conversations are because, ‘unexpressed feelings can leak into the conversation, burst into the conversation, make it difficult to listen and (or) take a toll on our self-esteem and relationships’. Because we don’t realize the importance of properly expressing our feelings, these pent up emotions make a mess out of difficult discussions. 


The third variation is the identity conversation that deals with introspecting our stakes in starting or avoiding difficult conversations. Here the authors isolate the three most common identity issues people have; ‘am I competent, am I a good person, am I worthy of love’. Because people are fearful that the difficult conversation will implode their self-image, they avoid the conversation altogether. For countering identity issues, these issues have to be faced first. No one is perfect but people often refuse to cut themselves slack; they consider themselves either too good or very bad for initiating a difficult conversation. As a result, they avoid it altogether. 


The last section of the book offers guidelines to help us decide whether we should even have a certain conversation in the first place. The fact of the matter is that not every fight is worth the time, energy or emotions involved. Some matters are best let go. In order to make this decision, the authors recommend asking three questions; ‘Is the real conflict inside you? Is there a better way to address the issue than talking about it? Do you have purposes that make sense? Among the good rules to remember here is to avoid short term relief if it means a long-term cost and that the other party has its limitations too. 


In retrospect, handling a difficult conversation successfully involves keeping in mind three points; we have to hear what the other party has to say without making assumptions, when telling them our side of the story, we have to make sure we tell them how we feel too, and we have to find a solution to the problem together. ‘The more easily you can admit to your own mistakes, your own mixed intentions, and your own contributions to the problems, the more balanced you will feel during the conversation, and the higher the chances it will go well’. 


Invariably, for the majority of us at least, time is short, temper is on edge, patience is limited and listening habits need improvement. Under stresses like these, even casual conversations are likely to go off the deep end, let alone the difficult ones. Therefore unless you live in a jungle and interact only with four legged creatures who don’t speak your tongue, Difficult Conversations is a must have on your bookshelf. 



Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer/editor settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA. Her published credits as writer and web content developer include well over 2,000 articles in both American and Pakistani publications. Her notable work is the translation of Harun Yahya's epic Atlas of Creation-Vol 1 and Evolution Deceit. Sister Irum will be writing the Book Review for Envision every month. She offers editing, content and ebook creation, and book translation and representation through her company Wordlenders. 



Dear Brothers and Sisters,




The beginning of 2015 and the first two months have been extremely busy at Timelenders with back to back workshops with hundreds of new Timelenders family members. 


The month of March is going to be very special as this month we are having our International Vision Retreat in Malaysia from 13-16 March. The preparations have been done; a group of 20+ amazing visionaries is ready to take on the challenge on developing and refining their visions to contribute in the making of this world to be a better place in days to come. 


Apart from Vision Retreat in Malaysia, we have a very busy schedule continuing this month as well. The great thing I have been experiencing in our workshops is the great interest that people are coming with. In fact, I am amazed to see a lot of young people coming forward to develop themselves as productive and high worth individuals. The spark in their eyes to do something great for the community is highly encouraging.


If you are a parent and would want to see your kids as assets for the community and the nation, then I would strongly suggest investing in them through developing critical life management skills we are offering.


I pray to Allah (swt) for your success in this world and hereafter and looking forward to have you in our workshops specially in the next Vision Retreat that can be a major turning point of your life. Don’t miss it!


Have a wonderful day!




Yameenuddin Ahmed

The Editor




Strategic Visions

Best Western Hotel, Islamabad

30 January – 01 February, 2015


Understanding Sound Ideology

Faletti’s Hotel, Lahore

05 February, 2015


Sleep Management

Faletti’s Hotel, Lahore

05 February, 2015


Strategic Time Management

Diamond Paint Industries (Pvt.) Ltd., Lahore

06 – 08 February, 2015


Strategic Time Management

IBA Main Campus, Karachi

06 – 08 February, 2015


Strategic Visions

AFPGMI, Islamabad

06 - 08 January, 2015


Strategic Visions

Marriott Hotel, Karachi

13 – 15 February, 2015


Personal Effectiveness

Pakistan Navy War College, Lahore

14 – 17 February, 2015


Strategic Visions

Al Jawhara Gardens Hotel, Dubai

19 – 21 February, 2015


Strategic Time Management

Best Western Hotel, Islamabad

20 – 22 February, 2015


Strategic Time Management

ADGAS, Abu Dhabi 

22 – 25 February, 2015


Strategic Visions

Hospitality Inn Hotel, Lahore

27 – 28 February, 2015 





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