86,400.

Being more productive in a new year is, in general, a positive thing to do. My mum has always reiterated that within Sri Lankan culture, the 1st of January signifies an auspicious day, where you set off on the best foot forward being hard-working and dedicated, as you mean to go on through the year. But productivity means different things to different people. It could encompass either working efficiently in your profession, getting involved in multiple ventures to broaden your horizons or simply to do the best in your exams and assignments. This past year, I have been more productive than I ever have been, but there is always room for improvement. What concerns me looking back during times where I wasn’t working as hard as I could have been is not just the fact that I was wasting time, it was how comfortable I was with doing it. I confronted procrastination with familiar excuses of, ‘I’ll catch up on the weekend’ or ‘Next week, I’ll get that done,’ and I rarely felt bad for doing it. Bill Keane famously said that today is a gift, hence why it is called the ‘present’ and no truer words have been spoken than understanding that the time to achieve and make changes is now, not later.

So for the new year, I wanted to change my approach, so that I not only felt motivated to be more productive, but also so that I felt genuinely guilty or lacking behind the pace if I wasn’t being as productive as I should have been. And that’s why the number 86,400 came to mine, which is approximately the number of seconds there are in one day. I think we often assume that decisive moments and important opportunities are hard to come by because they are down to an element of luck, which is true don’t get me wrong. But what we tend to forget is that these moments are also fleeting and finite. You will never get these seconds back, no matter how hard-working and efficient you are. My motivation therefore is not just to work hard solely for myself or for my future, but out of respect for precious time itself. Making every second count is the very least I could do, given that they are an immeasurably precious commodity and the key to a 2019 where I make the most of every window of opportunity I happen to gaze into.

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