Manage Your Time. Manage Your Priorities.

The common enemy of field grade officers is time. There aren’t enough hours in a day to get it all done, and we’re constantly pulled between future plans and current problems. Earlier, we discussed time management as a crucial concept to think through prior to starting a big job. Let’s take a little more time to walk through time management:

Do Commit Time To:

Leader Development. There’s always time available to teach, coach, and mentor! Spend one PT session a week running with a Company Commander. Rotate through attendance of Company Training Meetings. Have lunch with all of the Company XOs. Our profession depends on your commitment of time.

Personal Development. Self development is critical, yet there’s no time available to do it when your world is crashing and burning. Carve out a few minutes each day to expand your own horizon. While you’re chugging coffee during your early morning commute, tune in to a podcast rather than the latest Taylor Swift album. Next up — Read! Take a few minutes for personal reading in the evening before bed. Another critical task is personal reflection. Find time to sit and think, even if for just a few minutes. Make it a routine to shut your door for 10 minutes and think after lunch before returning to work.

Your Boss’s Priorities. His priorities are your priorities. Place tasks from your boss at the top of your task list and ensure subordinate staff officers prioritize their efforts accordingly.

Don’t Commit Time To:

Solving Subordinate's Problems. The more you solve, the more they’ll ask you to solve. Rather than fix their problems, coach! Enable subordinate leaders to make sound decisions and understand resources required to train formations.

Fighting the White. Is the task from your higher headquarters so horrid that it requires an immediate response, or are you mostly just offended by the thought of it? My old boss used to ask me two questions when facing tasks I wanted to fight: “Is it training? Is it Army-like?” Find the hidden training value and go get it after it!

Your Inbox. Your outlook account is another huge drain on time throughout the day. There are important nuggets there, but it takes hours to sift through the other nonsense to get to it. “Train” external agencies and staffs to coordinate directly with your staff rather than being a middleman. A simple method is don’t reply, ever. Pass it along to one of your staff officers and tell them to CC you on the response.

Pointless Meetings. Ever sit through a meeting you think is pointless, even though you’re the one responsible for it? Cancel it! Never host a meeting without a quantified input, process, and output. If there’s no output, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Also, never host regular meetings that go beyond an hour. The lieutenants begin to drool on themselves past 30 minutes.

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