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NEWS | April 6, 2011

Time Management - Managing YOUR Time

By Chief Master Sgt. John Morris 11th Wing Staff Superintendent

What exactly is "time management?" Depending on whom you ask, you might receive several different definitions. Usually with a subject like time management, the definitions are subjective in nature, catering to a specific individual's personality and preference. That being said, my definition of time management is: the ability to effectively manage the time you have in a 24-hour day and being able to get things done to the best of your ability.

Notice, I said the time YOU have. Your way of managing time may be different than others and there is nothing wrong with that. For many it is a struggle to fit everyday job-related tasks into an eight to 12 hour work day. Not to mention how difficult it is allotting time for physical activity, family and extracurricular activities as well.

We've heard so much about time management throughout the years that it has become a cliché phrase within the Air Force. To this day I recall my first day of Airman Leadership School when the instructor handed out the schedule for the following six weeks. My eyes must have popped out and my jaw must have dropped when I saw how many assignments and exams we needed to complete in order to graduate. That's the first time I heard the phrase "time management." I vividly remember thinking, 'what in the world is our instructor talking about?' Throughout that course, and countless others in my career, I realized how I managed my time was of critical importance.

The truth of the matter is, everyone manages time in various ways. Some write "things to do" lists, others may use the "Tasks" option in their e-mail, while others just seem to know off the top of their head what they need to accomplish in the day. I've always asked, why does managing time seem to come so easy to some while others struggle to complete anything on time? How can some people look like they have it together, while others seem scatter-brained, unorganized and overwhelmed? I venture to say that some have mastered the art of "time management."

Some of my greatest successes in managing time have happened when I created and wrote down a "things to do" list. Although it seems I added to it every day and it was never ending, I took pleasure when I reached that moment of crossing something off the list; done or complete! I believe when you write it down you do yourself a great service ensuring you're reminded throughout the day or week the tasks you have to complete. I have found on the occasions that I failed to write a task down I usually failed at accomplishing the task. Whether you believe it's elementary or not, making a "things to do" list has been effective for me in my personal life but definitely in professional life as well.

Everyone has to find their own hitch, the most effective way to manage time that matches their personality. Each individual must figure out the best time management method for themselves. My advice to anyone struggling with time management; start with one method and see how it works for you. If it's effective at keeping you on track continue using it, if not try another approach until you discover which one works best for you.

Time management is personal; there isn't a cookie-cutter definition that fits everyone's personality. What is your definition of time management? Figure it out and you can be successful every day.