Recently I learned a very valuable lesson on the value of time. I happened to read a letter written by Dr. Sunil, an NRI, a classmate and friend of my brother.
Dear Dr. ......,
I would like to document some of the ayurvedic recipes developed by my grandmother for common medical problems. She has done a considerable amount of work in the area of natural medicine and handed over all the data to my mother. I would like you to discuss this with my mother in detail and work on a project to make a documentary film on this topic. Please give me the details of time required, total cost etc.
I am enclosing a demand draft of $ .............. for your valuable time needed at this initial stage of the project. Please let me know the time required there to encash this so that I can plan all future payments according to that.
This letter, dated some time in 2003, showed a very serious acknowledgment of the time taken by a person to finish a task. Dr. Sunil later told me that it is a way of life in USA, that they pay for whatever amount of time taken from others.
And even for social visits, he calls up and discusses the time slot convenient for both the parties!
Last month, I had a very sad experience-got one WIV (walk-in-visitor).
I was in M.S. University, Baroda and got a call from an old friend, who was keen on pursuing "research" in IDC.
"Where are you" I asked.
"In front of your cabin" - he said!
That was a shock!
He had come to IDC from a far away city without informing me!.
It was his first visit to IDC and had hundred questions.......whom to meet? where to stay? what to do ?
He didn't have any reason for dropping in without informing. I thought you will be in your room, he said!
Email, mobile phone, landphone, SMS, post office.......no mode of communication was useful here!
I am observing the trend now...About 90% of visitors I get are WIVs! The sad part of this trend is that I have missed meeting so many of my great friends because of this reluctance to inform in advance about a visit!
Maybe, the fact that I am in an academic institution might be playing in their minds...a kind of misunderstanding that a teacher will always be inside the dept and hence no need to fix a meeting! How cruel is that?
After that, I am very very careful about meeting people. I stopped going to anybody's cabin as a "walk-in-visitor". I try my best to call the person I want to meet and fix up a convenient time.
It is a very good idea to respect other people's time.
It is very very important to fix up a time slot to meet anyone, even your closest friend.
Most of us chalk out a list of things to do in a day and most of the tasks will have a deadline. What happens when there is an unexpected guest who takes half an hour from you? All other tasks get postponed by half and hour or some tasks are postponed to the next day!
The important lesson here is that the WIVs will never take responsibilty for problems created by our failure or delay in finishing our work.
Recently, I had a very serious issue with a chronic WIV who walks in to every cabin in the office and spends min 45 minutes in meaningless time pass conversation. He made sure no one can do any serious creative work in the office space! People who had to do any serious work had to go out and sit in other spaces to avoid this WIV!
Now cabins of many staff members are always empty, in fear of the WIV!
I have a friend, Mr. Sethu Das, the commander in Chief of "Friend of Tibet" organisation. He recently decided to spend half a day with me at IDC to discuss some issues on graphic design. The meeting was finalised one month in advance through email and he kept his time like a true perfectionist. It was one of the most memorable design discussions I have ever had, enlightening on both sides! Because of the advance notice, I could keep the entire time free of any disturbances and was totally relaxed.
A lesson for all of us.
Time is very very valuable, mine as well as yours.