Optimize your time
By Major Pete Soto, 366th Component Maintenance Squadron / Published May 12, 2011
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
"It is not enough if you are busy. The question is, 'what are you busy about?" ~Henry David Thoreau
How many times a day do you usually use the word "busy?" Do you find there is just not enough time to get everything done? And guess what? It's not going to get easier.
As the Air Force reduces its numbers, those of us remaining will have to pick up the slack. You know the old adage of "do more with less." So, what can you do to efficiently and effectively optimize your time?
I have picked up a few tidbits and learned a few hard lessons over my many years in aircraft maintenance. Some of these pointers you may have heard before, and some you may have not. These pointers are not all inclusive, but instituting them will surely enhance the way you help make the mission happen.
1. Time Management - We need to learn to manage our time better. Avoid making wasted trips within your work area by planning out what you have to do. How many times have you seen people making multiple trips when one would have sufficed? More importantly, keep a calendar; you need to know where you are supposed to be and what deadlines you have. This will help you prioritize what you work on.
2. Prioritization - Have you ever been caught being late for a deadline or forgetting something important? Of course. We all have. It happens! Here's the thing: learn to prioritize the things you do and the things you are responsible for that are really important. You have to separate what deserves your attention most. Here's a hint: if the boss asks for it, it moves to the top of the list. If it's something they think is important, guess what? Now it's important to you too!
3. Delegate - Delegation is so hard, isn't it? Who can do those mundane tasks like you can? Sometimes we need to stop being pretentious, thinking we are the only ones who can do what we do adequately. If you are really that great at all of those things that others can't do as well as you can, you wouldn't still be doing them -- you would be training others to do them better. Learn and trust to delegate.
4. Get organized - A big problem with managing time is that we aren't organized -- our work area is a mess. Someone once told me that if your workspace is cluttered, then your mind is also cluttered. Get started by cleaning up your mess. Take an afternoon when you're feeling lethargic and go through all your binders, papers and notes. Once organized, you will feel much more energized and motivated to do some work.
5. Be motivated - Motivation to work is another problem we all face. When we're not motivated, or doing something we're not entirely sure how to do, or there's too much to do, then we tend to procrastinate. The best way to eliminate that problem is by knowing what's stopping us, and doing those things first to get them out of the way while we are still feeling energetic.
Additionally, in our daily planning and responsibilities, we must never forget our health. It's unhealthy to be stressed over lack of time, so we must ensure to get enough nutrients and rest, get some fresh air, do something fun, stay focused, and be positive. When you are refreshed, with priorities in place, you can achieve much more -- and be more successful both personally and professionally.
When you learn to use your time wisely, utilize the people around you and prioritize what is most important, you'll be on your way back to those strolls around the squadron or work center. Sometimes you need to relax and realize you can only do so much. Working to the best of our capability -- and beyond -- will help us remember what's really important.