Like all leaders, a military commander must manage their time carefully. It’s the only resource of which we never get more! These have worked for me as a commander and leader, perhaps they’ll work for you.
1. Organize your day, don’t let your day organize you.
Whatever scheduling tool you use, remember that it’s your calendar and your time (no matter who actually schedules your time or keeps your calendar). Always ask why something is on your calendar.
2. Leave your desk.
You can’t get things done staring at a computer screen. Email and reading may feel like you’re accomplishing something, but most real accomplishments come from talking to people. Schedule time for that explicitly in your day.
3. Manage your email.
Email is a great tool, but left unchecked can consume the day. Ask subordinates to cc you on email sparingly. Use filters and and rules to sort mail into bins, then read email in the proper priority. Lastly, don’t be afraid to delete email without reading it if it’s not important (not every email deserves attention!)
4. Keep meetings short and to the point.
Meetings cost time and money, keep them short. Meetings are not opportunities to do instruction, they’re for decisions, doing program status checks/updates, and consensus building. When possible, send out the briefing slides the day before, then be prepared to get right to the point of the meeting immediately. Never schedule a routine meeting for more than 90 minutes, you’ll lose people’s attention after that.
5. Don’t fear the technology.
Smartphones and other personal tech can be time savers if used appropriately. Use them to maintain data you use often (e.g. contacts, calendar, talking points). Teach the staff how to push info to you, and what info you need regularly, so they can be proactive rather than constantly reacting.
These are some of my techniques, what are yours?