Top 7 Time Management Mistakes That Army Leaders Make

Today, I want to share some common time management mistakes that Army Leaders make.  We all know that time is our most precious asset.  In the Army National Guard and Army Reserves, we have limited time to get things done.  We have to do in one weekend a month and two weeks a year what the Active Duty Army has 365 days to do!  In order to this, we must master our time management.

What you will see below are 7 common time management mistakes that ARNG and USAR Leaders make.  My goal today is to educate you about these mistakes so you can avoid them yourself.  They are listed in no particular order.

1) Spending All Their Time with the Problem Soldiers – Without a doubt I’ve seen more leaders spend more time with the knuckleheads than they do with their star performers.  This drives me crazy!  As a leader, you need to deal with issues with your poor performing Soldiers.  By all means, take care of it.  But, don’t let it consume ALL of your time.  Make sure you spend more time mentoring and developing your good Soldiers than you do putting out fires with the knuckleheads.

2) Trying to do Too Much – You can’t do it all during drill weekend or Annual Training!  I have physically tried to do that and failed.  Working one weekend a month and two weeks a year, you are trying to put 10 pounds of crap into a five pound bag!  I’ve learned that not all tasks are created equal.  You have to determine which tasks are most important and then focus on those tasks first.

3) Not Having Priorities – This one goes hand in hand with number two.  You must have priorities.  On any given day, you probably have two or three things to do that are REALLY important.  Make sure that you remember the 20/80 Rule.  20% of the things you do will produce 80% of the results.  Make sure that you spend 80% of your time on those 20% of the tasks.  Delegate everything else or do it during non-productive hours.

4) Confusing Busy with Productive – I’ve never met an Army leader who wasn’t busy, but I have met MANY who weren’t productive.  Anyone can be busy.  If anything, I think being busy is nothing more than a cop out as to why you can’t do your job effectively.  A good leader is productive and has/makes the time for the productive tasks.  Every day when you go to work, you should have priorities and know which tasks must be done. Strive to be productive, not busy.

5) Wasting Time in Meetings – Most meetings suck!  Most meetings in the Army are unorganized and waste people’s time.  Try to keep the meetings to a bare bones minimum.  Never have a meeting without an agenda.  Never have a meeting last more than an hour, ever!  Before you have a meeting, put some thought into it.  Don’t just have a meeting to have a meeting.  Determine if there is an easier way to communicate the information.  You can’t control the meetings your boss does, but you can control your own meetings.

6) Not Leveraging Their Subordinates to Help – Another mistake that a lot of leaders make is not leveraging or delegating to their subordinates.  Never to spend your $100 per hour time doing a $10 per hour task.  If someone else can do it 80% as well as you can, delegate it.  Empower your subordinates.  They want the work and the challenge.  The more you can delegate the better. Remember, leaders get paid to get things done THROUGH other people, not to do everything themselves.

7) Not Planning Out Their Day in 15 Minute Blocks – You need to plan out your day or it will manage you.  Buy a good day planner and schedule your time in 15-minute increments.  You will be absolutely amazed at how much more you can get done if you do this every day.  Each night before you go to bed, plan out the next day.  Look at all the important things that need to be done and block it into your schedule in 15-minute increments.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are the top 7 time management mistakes that Army leaders make as I see it.  Time is hands down our most precious asset.  We can either learn to manage our time or it will manage us!  What do you think are the most common time management mistakes that Army leaders make?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.


4 thoughts on “Top 7 Time Management Mistakes That Army Leaders Make”

  1. This post was excellent and had excellent points. I agree that delegation is the biggest key. A leader can’t possibly expect to get all things done him or herself.

    Time management is admittedly the thing I struggle with the most.

  2. I would say the most common mistakes I see are not delegating enough to your subordinates. This is especially prevalent in Guard/Reserve units and in particular for the few that are the full time staff. The full time staff will try and take on all the responsibility and the traditional reservists/guard not only aren't pulling their weight, but they aren't being trained and prepared to take over in the future.

    Also, most meetings are a time suck. If the purpose of your meeting is to disperse information, it should take no more than 15 minutes. If you are teaching skills or anything else then it is a class, not a meeting and should be treated as such.

  3. I think that these are also common time management mistakes that most leaders across all occupations make. For me, I especially try to do too much and have difficulty delegating some tasks to others. Those two go hand in hand. I believe that the reason I struggle with that, and the reason that many leaders do, is because they feel that they may be the best person to do the job … any job, and also that they do not want to tie up the time of their subordinates. I know that is not a healthy, efficient way to look at things. I’m still working on it!

  4. So many people ignore the fact that their time is precious! All in all this is a good list but it could have been honed down to one thing — and it’s a biggie: DELEGATE! Let’s say 20 people fail to do ONE task (menial or otherwise) – being in the leadership role it becomes your responsibility to take up the slack and fix it. That becomes 20 additional things that you have to accomplish in addition to your own stuff. As an effective leader, finding the problem and fixing it is in everyone’s best interest – especially if you want a healthy unit.

    BTW – I LOVE #4. Busy does not equal productive – but being productive certainly keeps you busy!

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