BLUF – An effective time management strategy is built with the team in mind, not an afterthought.
I was recently asked by a fellow squadron commander to teach a one-hour class on Time and Task Management at our local, base-level Flight Leadership course. As soon as I was asked, I replied with “Do you want me to teach an existing block within the curriculum, or can I develop my own material?” The latter was my preference, and luckily they trusted me to come up with material that would be engaging and not your run-of-the-mill tips on time management. The difference in my approach is that I believe an effective time management strategy is built with the team in mind, not an afterthought. By communicating and building your strategy with your personal and professional social circles, you’ll find that you can be successful without burning yourself down to the ground. Leaders aren’t successful because they can do everything themselves, but instead know how to optimize their surroundings to deliver effective results.
The delivery of my class will be over 35 mins using a powerpoint deck (11 slides total), to allow at least 25 minutes of questions and answers. A summary handout will also be provided, which contains some of the talking points I’ll use during my delivery and can be used as reference if needed. The powerpoint deck probably won’t make sense without my accompanying delivery, but here are download links to both:
Here is the text of the handout for ease of reading:
TIME AND TASK MANAGEMENT – Master your energy to deliver effective results
- Early Bird vs Night Owl – Which half of the day do you feel you can be most productive?
- Communicate your preferences to your teammates – Carve out one hour every day to stay focused on your assigned tasks.
- Sprints and Marathons…know how to run both of them – If everything is a priority task, none of them are. And if you wait until the last minute, it will only take you a minute.
- Build one that makes sense for the team, not you – Define purpose, audience, and in/outputs of every team event.
- “We have an event for that” – Avoid creating new meetings and and align personnel and discussions to an existing event.
- Understand two levels up – Use higher level meetings to work backwards from and deliver purposeful actions and/or decisions. Time-constrained purpose will help eliminate waste.
- Minimize email interruptions – Turn OFF all visual/audible notifications; Turn ON delivery notifications from your supervisor and supervisor+1. Minimize the window when not in use. Keep your inbox as big as only one screen.
- Collaborate vs Send/Receive – Stop sending attachments; use collaboration spaces to increase transparency and efficiency.
- Chose a priority line of communication – “If [subject] is important, contact me by [method]”. These should vary based on your availability and urgency. The method should never be e-mail.
- Don’t bring work home – This applies physically and mentally. If you don’t create the separation, neither will get the attention they deserve.
- You won’t get any “do-overs” – Your career has a finite shelf life, but your family will or won’t be there when you decide to hang the uniform up.
- Outdated expectations – Family members have the choice to find a position on your work team, not an obligation.
- Meal prepping is your friend – If you leave these decisions to “on the fly”, they will often be poor ones.
- Meals + Snacks = never hitting “empty” on your fuel tank – Surround yourself with smart decisions to maintain a consistent level of energy. Eat during meetings, it is not your fault they scheduled a meeting during your normal feeding time.
- Understand and build an effective sleep routine – Unplug consistently and gradually wind down when going to bed. You are hurting yourself and the team by showing up half-charged.
- Be consistent and SHOW UP – You can always talk yourself out of doing certain workouts…so get there first and then decide what to do.
- Mandatory appointments – Lead by example and prioritize your readiness for yourself and others.
- Individual vs Group: Know your accountability preference – With so many resources available to you, there are no excuses to staying consistent.
BOTTOM LINE – If you don’t align your actions to your values, you are wasting your time.