Economic Analysis of Time Management for UPSC

  • by nilakanta

The essence of economics is resource management, so we will analyze the most important resource for civil services aspirant, i.e. Time, by using some macroeconomic tools.

Well you have given time and there can be two choices, between studying concepts and between studying facts, while for good preparation, both are equally important, neither we can write vaguely without facts, nor we can state facts only, as they would be like unconnected dots in absence of concepts.

The resource constraint here is time devoted to study, and we assume students produce two aspects to their preparation; one is understanding of concepts and second is memorizing facts. Now it would be the resource allocation to production of each which will determine, marks

Case I: Choice between concepts and facts (knowledge of both is necessary to score well)

Concept of Production Possibility Frontier (PPF)

PPF is also a similar study at national level, where given the resource constraint, economy undertakes production of two types of goods, capital goods (for future investment and producing other goods) and consumption goods, which are consumed and doesn’t lead to production of other goods, for example, Rice, cloths, etc. However, the similar good rice, when sold as seed, would be capital good, because it will be invested for future production. There can be no economic growth without investment; similarly people need to consume, in order to survive. Thus, society needs both in order to survive and grow.

PPF is also called PPC (Production Possibility Curve), reflects the different combinations of two Goods (generally capital good and consumption good, when considering PPF for national economy). It shows the maximum attainable amount of one Good, given the level of other good

It is concave to the origin, due to opportunity cost and efficiency in resource use. Which means, not all resources are efficient in production of either goods; some may be good farmers, while some may be good factory workers, and some managers. Thus, devoting all resources to say, agriculture will reduce their efficiency. And any shift of resources from here to other sector, say manufacturing, would increase efficiency of both sector. As people who were not producing much in agriculture as they were good in other activities are now freed up and are utilized to some other work, where they can work better. This concept is also called Opportunity Cost (will be discussed in detail in some later entry)

The similar extension can be applied to our topic of choice between facts and concepts would be; if we devote some time from understanding concepts whole day, to memorizing facts, the preparation would become more efficient, as reading similar things is boring and can decrease the efficiency of the time devoted and a step in opposite direction would increase it. Thus, allocation of some time from one activity to other will improve efficiency of both when moving from single activity focus.

The concept is further explained through the following figures 1 to 3:
Figure 1

overview- PPF

Figure 2

PPf - explained

Figure 3
Economic Growth
Case I: Choice between concepts and facts (knowledge of both is necessary to score well)

Analysis with help of Production Possibility Frontier

In case II, later we will see, how to make a choice between leisure and work, for now, let’s assume we have found our equilibrium, i.e., we know our time devoted to study, and say it comes to around 8 hours. Now how do we utilize those 8 hours.

This we will analyze through production Possibility Frontier concept. We are producing 2 products from our resource (time) that are learning concepts (on x axis) and studying facts (on y axis). Thus, we have to see what combination of production given the resource constraint will fetch us good marks.


PPf 1
Figure 4


Ideal preparation will follow both on concepts and facts and thus, the preparation frontier is concave, as points towards center would be higher in terms of marks achievement, as we will see shortly. First let us see how to improve preparation, which is parallel to increasing production in an economy, while when we consider a PPF for national economy, the curve will show national output, and each point would be a different combination of types of goods produce. For economic growth, there are only two choices for an economy, either increase resources (i.e., increase investment to for more resources to be devoted to production in future) or improve efficiency (i.e., improve technology of production). In case of students, an upwards movement in his preparation constraint (PPF) will come through either increase in time allocated to study (which certainly has its own limits, similar to increasing investment) or to improve efficiency (through concentration and peace of mind). Topper generally devote good amount of efficient time to their studies and thus, push their preparation constraint; something that you have to figure out, how?

Now, the marks would be analogous to preparation and with good strategy, marks can be maximized given the preparation (see, figure 5 below), (why marks curve are convex to the origin will be discussion in Case-II later). Now see a strategy of studying both in tandem will fetch most marks, as highest marks on a given preparation constraint can be at highest point on constraint. Out of the given curves the marks increase from M1–M2——M4. While if we study concepts only; on the first PPF, we would be at point Z1 and thus on marks M1, which is the lowest, wherein similarly, the study facts alone strategy would lead to even lesser marks. Similarly if we study both, strategically, we can see one can even achieve M4, which is much higher to M1 and will be a marked improvement in marks. Now, this is a particular equilibrium and there can be many such equilibrium as everybody’s temperament and intellect is different and different strategy would be helpful to different people.

If we go back to national economy on the similar point, we can see that What we mean by marks here, would be social welfare and a good resource allocation and production strategy can maximize social welfare.

Figure 5

Coming next:

Case – II: Choice between study and leisure (assuming both are necessary for a normal student in long run)