Where did the time go?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
A college professor once told me the attention span of the average American was 30 minutes, roughly the length of a sitcom.

This left me wondering what happened to a person's ability to sit still and focus on one thing at a time. What happened to taking some time and relaxing with a good book? 

Whenever I find myself with some free time, I instantly reach for the video game controller, though I feel a twinge of guilt for indulging in such a fruitless endeavor.

Have I managed my time so poorly that I can't even enjoy a good video game? For me and many others, the answer is "yes;" or more accurately, "I don't really have time to think about it."

Maybe a person's attention span is so short because deep down, they feel that 30 minutes to an hour is all the time we can spare for ourselves. Is an average day so packed with projects, meetings and e-mails that there is no time to spare for relaxation?

I remember some of the lessons I learned from seminars and classes about time management and how I could benefit from them today.

Make time to manage time. One of the first things I try to do every day is set aside five minutes after our morning meeting to plan out my day. If I create a plan of action for the day then I know what needs to be accomplished versus what I want to accomplish.

Set achievable goals. While I'm planning my day, I like to set goals that I can achieve. Once I've accomplished a task, I check it off in my planner. That little check mark can be a good confidence booster during a day that seems impossible to manage.

Create an action plan. I can't just run head first into a problem without knowing how I'm going to solve it. If I create a plan of attack, I can feel confident I'll be able to accomplish whatever lies ahead.

Be flexible. While I may not be able to contort my body like a Yoga instructor, I can keep an open mind when unexpected problems come my way. It's pretty much a given that in the course of a day, at least ten people will interrupt your schedule with a problem that needs solving. If I can't prioritize and adapt to these problems, then I'll be stuck working on them all day, and I will never accomplish my goals.

Without good time management, Airmen can easily be overwhelmed by the workload presented to them. By organizing their days, Airmen can complete the mission and still have time to enjoy a personal life.

If I can properly organize and plan out my day, then I may be able to stretch my attention span and enjoy a good book every once in awhile -- instead of the instant gratification of a 30-minute video game session that never seems to stop at 30 minutes.