How Prioritising Has Helped me Remain Active at 80 – Atueyi

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Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, founder and managing director of Pharmanews Limited, has said that a major reason he has managed to remain active at 80 years of age is his penchant for prioritising and concentrating on certain important activities above others, noting that this attitude has not only helped him to conserve his time and strength but also his financial resources.

Speaking with Pharmanews in an exclusive interview recently, Atueyi, who clocked 80 years on 1 October, revealed that rather than doing many things things at a time,  he focuses on  just a few and does them well, saying that he was grateful to God for the grace to excel in whatever he had been assigned to do.

The Pharmanews MD disclosed that aside from attending church service every Sunday and Bible study on Tuesdays – unless there is an unavoidable engagement – he is also very active in the Full Gospel Business Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI), noting that as a national director, he attends weekly meetings of FGBMFI, in addition to chapter meetings  some evenings and Saturday mornings.

How prioritising has helped me remain active at 80 – Atueyi
Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi

“I give time to FGBMFI for my spiritual growth and development. We have annual conventions, which I do not miss. In FGBMFI, I enjoy the fellowship of good and trustworthy friends”, he said.

Atueyi stated further that even though he has cut down on professional meetings, he has remained consistent in attending the annual national conference  of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), describing it as his yearly pilgrimage, having not missed an edition since 1973. He added that by God’s grace, he would be at the next edition in November, which he said would be his 46th unbroken attendance.

The Pharmanews founder also spoke on some peculiar work and non-work related routines that have served him so well over the years, as well as giving advice on how to eat right to stay healthy and live long.

Below is the abridged interview.

Having published Pharmanews monthly and uninterrupted for 40 years, you must have some work and even non-work related routines that have served you well. Can you share with us how you manage your day?

Yes. I have some peculiar habits that are helping me to live my life and fulfil God’s purpose for my life.  As I get older, these routines or habits change also. Time is a very important and valuable resource and I like to use it to be productive and effective in my work and maintain good health.

I do not start the day without proper planning, which begins the night before. I have the habit of writing down the things I need to do the following day, for example, meetings to attend, writings, visits, phone calls and so on. I am a man of paper because I carry about my “Things to Do” list.  That is why I never forget any important thing I have to do.

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I have discovered that after writing these activities down, my mind is relieved and I can sleep well. It appears to me as if I have committed my worries to God and then have peace of mind.

My mind has a way of remembering unconsciously any important thing I need to do the following day. By 10.00pm my activities cease and I go to bed. That is why I don’t like nocturnal activities.

I get up around 5.30 am and I value my morning hours. After our routine family devotion I spend the next two hours on my breakfast table and bathroom. On the breakfast table, I prioritise my day’s activities, attend to my emails and correspondence, and take my alkaline water, fruits, medicines, supplements and green tea.

I like to communicate with my staff in writing and/or text messages .  In the bathroom, I have a shelf for important books I read because I usually relax in the toilet. Thereafter, I dress up and return to the dining table to continue with work while eating.

For the past 40 years, I have virtually been working from the house. Therefore, I regularly have a light lunch. After lunch, the next thing is siesta.  Ideally, from 2.30 to 4.00 pm should be my lunch time, quiet time and siesta. During this time, I do not work; neither do I respond to or give appointments to people.  In fact, people who are close to me know that I don’t receive phone calls during this period. I resume work after 4.00pm.

Any day I disrupt my routines because of important conferences and meetings, it tells on me. Even when I go out for functions, I prefer to skip the lunch and return to my house to eat and rest. My rest is more important to me than the public food.

For an 80-year-old man, you are still very active and prominent in professional gatherings.  You have attended the PSN conference for 45 years without interruption. You are still active in the church and in the FGBMFI. How are you able to keep up with these activities and how do you feel being able to do all these?

It is a question of focusing, prioritising and concentrating on certain key areas. I have eliminated certain activities to conserve my strength, body, time and even financial resources. That is why I don’t attend some functions now.

As a national director of FGBMFI, I attend our weekly meetings, in addition to chapter meetings, some evenings and Saturday mornings. I give time to FGBMFI for my spiritual growth and development. We have annual conventions which I do not miss. In FGBMFI I enjoy the fellowship of   good and trustworthy friends.

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Of course, I must attend church service on Sundays and Bible study on Tuesdays, unless there is an unavoidable engagement. As for my professional meetings, I have also cut down but the PSN annual conference is my yearly pilgrimage. I have not missed any from 1973. By God’s grace, I will be in Kaduna in November  month for the next edition.

I am currently the vice president of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm). After my tenure, I don’t plan to hold any other elective position.

I started attending FIP congresses annually from 1977, until I decided to stop after many years. When the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists (NAPPSA) in the Americas (NAPPSA) started their conferences in 2007, I shifted my interest there. I was in Atlanta, Geogia, last month, for the 13th annual conference.

I don’t do many things; I focus on a few and try to do them well. I am not a Jack of all trades.  Interestingly, God grants me the grace to do whatever He wants me to do.

It has been said that as people advance in age, they sometimes have to change their diet pattern. Has there been a change in your diet pattern and why? Also, what is your advice on how to eat right and healthy?

As you get older in years, your body gets older, too, even if you don’t look it.  Therefore, your diet must reflect these changes. The nutritional needs of the body change and the ability of the body to absorb, assimilate and use what you eat also changes.

A person of my age should not be eating and drinking like a young man. What you eat (quality), the quantity you eat, how you eat it and when you eat are all important health issues. Obviously, attention to these factors promotes longevity.

When I was a young man (under 40), I was careless with my body. I was overweight. I consumed sugary drinks and fried foods, and smoked St. Bruno and Erinmore tobacco to prove that I was a young and successful pharmacist. I never subjected myself to medical checkup.

But because God had a good plan for my life and didn’t want  me to die prematurely, He afflicted me with hyperglycaemia, which I discovered by accident. My parents did not suffer from diabetes and none of our children is a diabetic. Therefore, generations before and after me are free from diabetes. I am the scape goat.

Like Apostle Paul, I pleaded with God to remove it from me but He bluntly refused. However, He assured me that His grace would be sufficient for me to live with it, fulfill His purpose for my life and die of old age and not because of the disease.

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We have free radical theory of longevity. The human body produces free radicals and we also acquire them from what we eat and the environment. These free radicals continuously destroy the cells of the body, thereby aiding diseases,  accelerating old age and eventual death. Therefore, if you love your body and your life, you must take adequate quantity of antioxidants daily. God has placed a rich supply of these antioxidants in fruits and vegetables which have not been destroyed by cooking at high temperature.

Anyone who desires to live long must be sure of what enters into his or her mouth. It has been said that you are what you eat. You must nourish your body with food that gives life. They are called living foods. These are foods that have their enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Most delicious and appetising fast foods are devoid of these and therefore dead. But we prefer to consume such junk foods and consequently suffer.

Praying to God may not take away this type of suffering because you have abused your body which is the temple of God. And God has clearly said that He will destroy anyone that destroys His temple. If you doubt it, read 1 Corinthians 3:17.

 

The world of business has evolved over the years due to all sorts of reasons. However, the advent of computers has impacted business more than any other thing. How easy was it for you to embrace information technology (IT) for both your social and business life?

Businesses like Pharmanews that have run for 40 years have passed through the time we didn’t have computers to the present time of “touch button” for most operations. Pharmanews was produced with typewriter and lithographic machine for typesetting and then with Letraset for bold headlines.

That was how we also produced Nigerian Dug Index and Nigerian Pharmaceutical Directory in the 80s. In fact, I used to devote several days to arranging the names of drugs and people by alphabetical order. Now this operation can be performed in seconds. Today, we do desktop publishing instead of manual. The transformation is incredible. Thanks to technology.

In Pharmanews,  we have long realised that we must embrace information technology to keep going. Pharmanews is fully online as pdf and as an app. Our staff continue to improve their IT knowledge on daily basis.

For me to appreciate what is going on, I am also working hard in this area.  I do a lot of social media activites  for business purpose mainly (not for social reasons). If I don’t do that, I will expire fast and become less useful to people.

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