Management Matters: Time Management

Wasting time is one of our most costly activities despite the fact that each of us can do something about it if we try. There is no such thing as “not enough time.” The same amount of time is available to all of us; some people just use their time better.

Plan each morning or the night before. Since time is valuable, you should figure out how to get the most from it. A few minutes each morning spent planning your day can make you more efficient as well as increase the amount of work you can get done. The executive who accomplishes much usually has his or her time planned days ahead. You do not need to go to that extent, but you can decide daily how you will use your time and you can also adopt timesaving habits.

Time management is similar to troubleshooting. Good time management is similar to good troubleshooting on the aircraft. Can you troubleshoot a technical problem on the aircraft without proper planning? The best troubleshooter will spend time in the cockpit with system diagrams before using any tools. The worst one will start swapping components without thinking or planning. Poor troubleshooting results are very costly, so is poor time management.

Start with the one that is most on your mind. When you have several jobs to do start with the one that is most on your mind. The reasoning behind this is logical, your effectiveness and efficiency are not the best when you are concerned or worried, and so you should try to relieve such feelings as soon as you can. You will be able to do a better job on your other tasks. If you have a disciplinary step to take with one of your people, do it as soon as possible. If some dirty or unpleasant work faces you, handle it early to get it out of the way.

Give priority to requested items by others. Always give high priority to a job that someone has requested of you. Doing work that your boss has requested usually should be put ahead of all jobs you need to do. After satisfying the boss, give attention to jobs that your people have asked for. Work that needs to be done to satisfy only yourself should be your last choice.

Always be punctual. Being punctual is an excellent way to get in the habit of using time effectively. Another one is to avoid procrastination with tasks that can be done quickly and without much effort. Take advantage of the time during the day when you are waiting. Use this time to read and think out the problem. Carry a notebook or pad with you so that you can write down a thought or idea that you want to remember.

For slow starters, complete one job at a time. If you are a slow starter, you probably waste a lot of time. You can overcome this problem by planning or laying out your work the night before so that you don’t have to look for things or make decisions the first thing in the morning. Another way to solve the slow start problem is to begin work on a partially completed job instead of tackling a new one. You can use this idea with your slow starters in the office or hangar. In the afternoon, start them on some project that will arouse their interest but cannot be finished that day. They will pick it up the next morning and get going easier.

Keys to using your time effectively

Do you want to accomplish more during the day? Here are 10 ways to be more efficient:

1. Organize. Organize your work area including your desk, equipment, records, files, toolbox, machines, and anything else you use in doing your work. When everything is in place and you know where each item is, you will never suffer the frustration of looking for it. You will be able to finish a job much quicker.

2. Think before you start. Pause a bit before you start a job to make sure you have all the information, materials, and tools you will need to finish it. This checking beforehand will enable you to complete a job without an interruption to get something you need.

3. Look for better ways. Look continually for easier and faster ways of doing work. The sooner you discover them, the sooner you will be able to save time.

4. Use your experience. Call more on your experience to carry out assignments and solve problems. Refer to your files to see how you handled a similar assignment or problems in the past.

5. Use of better tools. Consider the possibilities if part of your work could be handled faster and more efficiently with new equipment or machines. Study a way that this might be done and determine its cost before mentioning it to your boss.

6. Pace your workload. Spread your routine work evenly over your workday instead of trying to do it all at once. If you try to handle such jobs one after another, you are likely to slow down from lack of interest.

7. Review your routine jobs. Examine your routine jobs periodically to see if they are necessary. You will occasionally find one that no longer has any value and can be eliminated.

8. Take time on complicated problems. Set aside a problem that stumps you. You won’t be losing time by doing this because your subconscious mind will still be working on the problem.

9. Avoid wasting your time. Find the way to handle or avoid those people who waste your time with gossip, rumors, and idle talk. If necessary, tell them directly that you have work to do.

10. Do not procrastinate. Avoid spending time thinking about what has yet to be done during the day. Time spent procrastinating about the things you have to do accomplishes nothing.

Effective planning

Many supervisors have demonstrated to themselves and to their company that planning helps get jobs done with better results and in less time. Planning is worthwhile for several reasons:

  • It enables you to get a course of action to achieve goals and reach objectives.
  • It helps you to solve your problems faster and easier.
  • It prepares you for what to do in case certain things happen, what to do under particular circumstances, and how you should react to future events.
  • It provides the steps for you to follow to improve yourself and get ahead.

When you plan, you keep in control of people and events because planning involves getting information, facts, and data that enable you to make good decisions. The more knowledge and know-how you have, the better equipped you are to handle your job.

How do you go about planning? To illustrate what planning is all about, let’s assume you are a crew chief at a repair facility. You are expected to get the aircraft inspection completed and return to service. You also have people, parts, and equipment to work with.

When you plan, you decide which people you are going to assign to which jobs. You determine the parts and materials that will be needed and you make arrangements to have it available. You think about equipment and tools to be used. You consider the time factor such as when the work will start, how long it will take, and when it will be finished. You think about quality and quantity in regards to the inspection and how you will assure them. And throughout all this, you keep in mind safety, legality, costs, and human relations.

Requirements of good planning

To get the most from your planning, you must be careful how you do it. Experienced supervisors say that to make good plans you need to:

  • Be specific rather than general. The more explicit and clear your plan is, the less chance there is for it to be misunderstood or misapplied. Define your goals and objectives and indicate the means for attaining them.
  • Distinguish between the known and the unknown. Estimate the probable effects of the unknown. Make your planning more than just anticipation and reaction.
  • Make your plan as logical and practical as possible. The more facts it is based on, the better it is. Make reasonable judgments if facts are not available. Intelligent thinking should serve as the foundation for a plan.
  • Introduce flexibility and looseness. The plan may readily be modified if circumstances require it. Recognize that no plan is concrete nor can it cover all possibilities. Conditions under which a plan will be most effective changes as do the variables and factors on which the plan is based.
  • Be sure the plan is consistent with the aim and goal. The plan must be consistent with the goals and plans of the company and the way the company conducts its business. Formulate the plan to be acceptable to the people who will implement it and those who will be affected.

cceptable plans are more willingly adopted and carried out than ones that are objectionable in one or more respects. AMT

J.D. McHenry, president of Global Jet Services, has been involved in numerous aviation maintenance and flight operation programs for more than 31 years. He holds A&P, IA, and Doctorate of Business Management. For more information on Global Jet Services, visit