Written by Carlos Perez (COL, USA, Ret), Assistant Secretary, AAFMAA
Effective time management is an important life skill. While there are many techniques available, one that I have found particularly useful is creating priority lists that I then work into a daily, monthly, and even annual plan of action.
How often do you find yourself spending too much time on something that turns out to be insignificant? The simple process described below allows you to develop short-term and long-term priority lists that will will eliminate frustration, and ultimately reduce stress.
First, grab your phone, computer, or even notebook and pen – whatever you use to set reminders for yourself. Then, make a list of everything you need to do in the foreseeable future, in no particular order.
Once you’re done with that, determine the following for every single item: Is it urgent (needs to be done immediately or almost immediately)? Is it important?
After you complete this simple exercise, you will have four types of items:
1. Important and urgent. These items go at the top of your priority list. Good examples include preparing for an exam that is approaching or responding to a short notice, short suspense request from your tactical officer regarding preferences for your upcoming summer training assignment.
2. Important and not urgent. These items are the ones that are often neglected or postponed, and yet can be equally as important as those in our first category. For example, you may have a fitness test that is six months away, or a paper to write that’s due next month. Yet, the results of that fitness test may affect a series of important follow on items such as you overall class standing or even the summer assignment referenced earlier. And that paper may be half of your course grade! Deliberately plan time to work on these types of items.
3. Not important and urgent. Because of their urgency, we are often tempted to work on these items before those in category 2. However, because they’re not important, you should prioritize these behind those more important tasks.
4. Not important and not urgent. These items are last in priority and you should scrutinize them before spending any time on them. They make good candidates for deferring or delegating to someone else if that’s an option.
Categorizing things to do in this way will allow you to make better short- and long term-plans so you can focus on what matters and get it done. One item that falls squarely in the second category is working on long term financial readiness. This has three components – budgeting, saving or investing for the long run, and protecting your assets.
A note regarding protection: As a cadet or midshipman, you are fortunate in having up to $400,000 in life insurance provided through the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. This is probably more than enough coverage for now. However, over time, your needs may change – you may marry, have children, buy a home, and more.
When that time comes, you will be better prepared if you plan early for your needs. Consider whether others depend on your income and what that might cost if you’re deceased. If you still are eligible for SGLI, but need more coverage, or will be losing eligibility resulting from separation from service, a good term policy from a reputable insurance company such as AAFMAA can help you cover your insurance gap or replace SGLI. And, when the time comes, we would be happy to consider your unique needs and answer any questions you may have. Reach out to us whenever you’re ready.