Time Management

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Brian A. Barthel
  • 55th Security Forces Squadron commander
Throughout our careers we are constantly told to do this or do that if you want to succeed. We are told we must set goals, prioritize work, complete tasks on time, work on education, maintain our fitness level, volunteer, mentor others, support unit events, spend time with our family and a host of other competing interests. It can all be very overwhelming.

How do you deal with all the demands placed on you in today's Air Force, especially at a time of an extremely high operations tempo?

Time management; in the end it all boils down to time management. We only have so much time and must manage it efficiently to meet the many demands placed on us. The key for me has been balancing the major components of my life; work, fitness, education and family.

While we have some input on managing our time, "on-duty" for the most part, is decided for us; meetings, taskers, suspenses, functions, etc. Off-duty is where we get to decide what to do, when to do it and how it will get done. Unless of course you are married ... that's another story.

While no expert, I have learned to prioritize what is important, not just to me but to my family, friends and bosses. It is best to discuss and set priorities, goals and timelines with their inputs. Write them down, review them frequently and stick to them. No one plans to fail but all too often we fail to plan.

In meeting this objective, despite being accused of being computer illiterate, I have found electronic calendars to be invaluable for keeping yourself on track. If it weren't for placing physical training, school and important family events on the calendar, I'd miss nearly all of them.

For example, PT is scheduled three times a week, early in the day to prevent conflicts with work, family or school; and so far I'm batting 700+.

Likewise when I was working on my education, both my masters' degree and professional military education, I got up early to complete school work before heading to work. I then took care of other items when my kids went to bed. The goal was minimizing the impact on "family time" and work while successfully accomplishing school assignments.

As mentioned the demands are and will continue to be many, but they aren't insurmountable. Decide what is important to you, make a plan and stick to it. Manage your time ... don't let time manage you.