Time is our most precious asset. In the ARNG and Army Reserves, NCOs have to do the same things as their Active Duty counterparts, even though they only have two days to do it! In order to manage your time wisely, I’m going to share my Top 10 Time Management Tips for Army NCOs.
# 1 Do the Most Important Thing First
Let’s face it, sometimes we are asked to put 10 pounds of rocks into a five pound bag. There’s always so much to do and you can never get everything done. You need to learn how to identify the most important things and do them in order of importance. Learning this one skill will help you rise to the top of any organization. Anyone can be busy, but successful people are productive.
You should have a written “to do” list every single day at drill weekend and in your civilian life. Your “to do” list should have all the tasks written down. Next, they should be prioritized in order of importance, and they should be marked whether or not you will do them yourself or delegate the task to someone else. Start with the first (most important) task and don’t go to the next task until the first one is done.
# 3 Use the Big Three
During my time in Company Command, I had what was called the Big 3. These were the big three tasks I hoped to accomplish for the day and/or for drill weekend. I tried to teach my subordinates to come up with their own Big 3. In my opinion, if I got the Big 3 things done it was a successful day.
# 4 Understand the 10/90 Rule
The Pareto Principle is the popular 20/80 rule which states that 20% of the work you do will produce 80% of the results. I think the rule is more like the 10/90 Rule which means that 10% of the things you do produce 90% of the results. If that is true, make sure you focus 90% of your time on the top 10% most important things.
# 5 Doing it Yourself vs. Delegating
I’m the type of guy who likes to get things done. That is good is some respects, but when I try to do everything myself, I limit myself. As leaders, we can get paid to get things done through other people. On the other hand, we don’t get paid to do everything ourselves. If you can delegate a task, do it! Even if someone else can only do the task 80% as good as you can, let them do it! That’s your job.
# 6 Plan Your Drill Weekend Ahead of Time
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Several nights prior to drill weekend, take out the training calendar and training schedule and plan your drill weekend. What are the big things that must get done? What are the implied tasks that you must do to complete the big things? What must your Soldiers do? Come up with a game plan and “to do” list for each day of drill weekend. This will save you lots of time.
# 7 Have Realistic Expectations
No human being is perfect. Sorry if that comes as a shock to you. You are not perfect and neither am I. You need to have realistic expectations about what you can accomplish and what your Soldiers can accomplish. Don’t set unrealistic goals and expectations and then punish your Soldiers if they don’t meet them.
# 8 Go to The Unit Before Drill Weekend to Get Organized
While I was a Company Commander, my best leaders always visited the armory a few days before drill weekend. They did their PCC/PCIs, positioned equipment, conducted inventories, staged items and got ready for drill weekend. This saved them lots of time during drill weekend. You should do the same thing.
# 9 Know Your Deadlines
You must know your deadlines. If you are given suspense, write it down. And give yourself a reminder a few days (or hours) before the suspense is do so you do not forget. You want to be proactive, not reactive. Use a simple Suspense Tracker Worksheet to track your suspenses and the suspenses you assign your subordinates.
# 10 Use a Day Planner or Calendar
Every leader should have a day planner or calendar. Whether you use your phone, MS Outlook, or a traditional day planner is irrelevant. Just find something that works for you and stick with it. Write down your deadlines and plan your days ahead of time. Whenever you are given a task and deadline, write it down so you don’t forget. Try to break down your day into blocks of time.
Thanks for reading my Top 10 Time Management Tips for Army NCOs. None of these tips are a magic pill or instant solution, but if you implement them, you will do a much better job managing your time.
What are your thoughts? What do you do to manage your time effectively? Leave your comments or suggestions below.