Time Management

When Rodney asked me to consider an article on time management, my first reaction was, “What the heck do I know about time management?” I had visions of real experts, consultants, people we pay $2,500 per day who had Power Point presentations and knew all the latest management techniques.

But as usual I have a big enough ego that I quickly snapped out of it and said to myself, “Why not me, I can do that!” After all, I enjoy a challenge as much as the next person, and I have a super-secret weapon working in my favor, “The Colonel.”

The Colonel’s Rules

In a previous article I mentioned being raised an Army brat, recruit second-class (middle child), to the distinguished Lt Col. Felix Bessler. The Colonel could really bring it when it came to time management, and he expected all of his recruits (kids) to understand the importance of time. He often used terms with us like, “Fall In,” “Stand at Attention,” “At Ease,” “Assume the Front Leaning Rest Position” (commonly known as the pushup position), and his often-used favorite was, “I want you to be home by 2202 hours (10:02 p.m.), not one minute before, not one minute after.”

At the time it sounded okay–the Colonel liked structure and we were used to it. We never bothered to try to figure out the logic, we were more focused on the exactness of it, like all good recruits should do. As we got older, the Colonel explained that when he was one of President Kennedy’s and President Johnson’s helicopter pilots, Johnson used to sit up front sometimes and tell them, “I want to land at the White House at a specific time, like 0722, not one minute before, not one minute after.” To oblige, they would have to fly Army 1 around and then swoop in at the exact minute.

As we got on in years and the Colonel, now a gentleman farmer settled into retirement and starting to soften, changed his strategy and the “standing orders” for us. His revised philosophy was, “Stay out as long as you like but know the later you come in, the earlier you’re getting up.” So anything after midnight, (2400 hours), usually had us up around 0600 with the Colonel’s barking order, “Drop your ____ and grab your socks, it’s time to get up.” That meant farm work and that, my friends, really is, in my opinion, the character-building tradition this great land of ours was built on. I really like saying that because in some ways, we are a version of the modern-day farmer, growing turf, urban forests and open space.

Time Management Challenges

I know all of this is funny, but I think it drives home the point that our entire lives are about time management in some form or another. As a parent I am constantly struggling with time management–especially with my kids. In the summer, my teenage daughter Hannah thinks every night is Friday night and that my wife Mary and I can wait up till midnight seven days a week (we can’t). Ten-year-old Sawyer believes that when he’s told to do something, “in a minute” is a reasonable response. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a full understanding of what a minute really is. And then there’s my personal favorite, the old “Peace Out!” which means see you later, much later.

My hypothesis is that, at a very early age, we either learn the value of the exact, irreversible and limiting nature of time, or we think of time as more of a suggestion to react to at our own pace. This is fine when we’re children, but then we grow up and discover that few things in the working world are really a suggestion; projects, processes, products, commitments and deadlines are all around us, and they all carry the associated stresses of the exactness of time.

How do we get out in front of it all?

There are as many answers as there are questions, and I believe there is no right way. The first place most people look is to technology. As we all know, this is a tricky proposition. Technology alone is outpacing our desire to change personal habits. For example, if it takes 30 consecutive days to form a new habit, but new “time saving” technology comes out just as fast, what are we to do?

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Blunt Management
  2. Free Time
  3. Time
  4. Customer Service Tips From A-Z
  5. Management & Mission Q&A
  • Columns
  • Departments