CIO Time

I must admit that I’ve always had a problem with time. I hate time actually. Colleagues who know me well will laugh out loud when they realize that I had the audacity to write about Time Management. I guess those who can … do; those who can’t … well, they blog about it.

I noticed a phenomenon when I first came to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center called Goddard Time. I thought maybe I came to a place of kindred spirits, but what it actually referred to was the outcome of the pesky habit of scheduling back-to-back meetings not recognizing that many folks have to jump in a car and race (while safely obeying speed and traffic rules and avoiding pedestrians and bikes) across the Center. Then I lost my last shred of hope when I heard the then Center Director, Dr. Ed Weiler, admonish those proposing innovative solutions to not give him a power point on time travel or warp speed. Rats!

As a fan of the John C. Maxwell books on leadership, I recognize the important of self-management in dispensing my duties of a leader. I’ve taken just about every time management class I could.  I even have an unused Franklin Planners to help me.  I love watches – I have a ton of them; several Movados which don’t even have numbers on the faces. But, I think of watches as fashion accessories and not as anything of value to me. And people keep giving me devices to measure the passage of time, but hardly any of them operate. I counted them one day – I have nine (see them for yourself here) – but only three of them work (pictured here). A calendar, an hour glass, and a working clock

A friend of mine told me that my problem is that I don’t believe in time and I don’t like it.  Well, she is right I don’t.  Time Management is an oxymoron.  Time is finite and constant; it doesn’t grow when you manage it well or compress when you don’t (though time travel and traveling around the speed of light sounds like it might have potential). Here are some more attributes of time that are irritating to me:

Time is Never On Your Side. The Rolling Stones tune was wrong by saying “time is on your side”.  As the song ends, it emphasizes this over and over, then … repeat and fade.  Finally it ends and you are out of time. Good leaders should not delay decisions. They just make their decisions and move on.  Furthermore, these difficult times call for making decisions with incomplete information and with ambiguity. The need for rapid decision-making while battling your enemy called time is a critical leadership attribute. And you’ve got to do it before the music stops.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun. There’s an old joke that says something like … scientific studies show that married men live longer. But it’s not really true, it just seems that way. So does this mean the secret to having more time is to have less fun? Well, some scientists suggest that this is the case.  A study by two scientists Chaston and Kingstone may have scientifically proven that time indeed appears to speed up when you are having fun … or at least when your attention is engaged. One of Maxwell’s key leadership qualities is focus.

To have passion, to have a dream, to have a purpose in life. And there are three components to that purpose, one is to find out who you really are, to discover God, the second is to serve other human beings, because we are here to do that and the third is to express your unique talents and when you are expressing your unique talents you lose track of time. – Deepak Chopra

When compared to focus, passion, and purpose, time is an irrelevant artifact. The sharper your focus is the sharper you are as a leader.

Time in a Bottle. What if you could time in a bottle and save it? Then you could go back and do the things you never got a chance to do.  Jim Croce sang it best:

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
Till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

Well, you can’t put time in a bottle, but what you can do is do the things that are most important … once you find them. You make your decisions, focus on the outcomes, and get those most important things done first. Then as the song goes, you repeat and fade … until time’s up and the music stops.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

9 thoughts on “CIO Time”

  1. Maybe that’s why Ecclesiastes 3 is all about time.
    I know my most productive days are started with a numbered list of activities; then I just march down the list (interruptions may limit me to only getting a check next to #1, but tomorrow’s another day) without having to think over and over again what to do next.

  2. Many people have dreams of Time travel, or the invention of a Time machine. So would say that this is an immpossibility. What they don’t realize is that a Time machine has already been created. We all live within the time machine, the only flaw, was that the createtor of the invention failed to put in a reverse gear. And do not be saddened Ms. Cureton, as the music fades from the ending of one song, for it is just a prelude to the next song, and a whole new dance begins.

  3. wow that quote by deepak chopra blew me away! thanks for sharing that! i posted it on my site… cheers! – robert tew

  4. I enjoyed this post. I had to chuckle at the mention of 9 watches and unused planners. Sounds familiar!


    Owner of

  5. Ok im 42 years old and i will be honest i dream things up I have had professional help for this and my good nature infected there best efforts to shut me up now I know the Iss is a large station and after the last mission to repair the Hubble that bolt illustrated the difficulties involved with large repairs in space im not deterd if spent that much money on the Iss then in 8 years why not station the Iss to the moon the worst that could happen is the struts or strut would be unstable facilitating a soft landing i don,t have in depth information on gravity and fine dust depth so the first understanding would be how high would a strut struts need to be to give the Iss logistic,s for a new style of lunar module,s would half the station make mission success more feasible if presuming there is not solid substrate re would dust make be less or more feasible as deployment site and lastly can the Iss do the modernisation to the Iss without spending days on difficult things that won,t budge it sound difficult but think of the advantage of being able to grab a lunar module

  6. Time is about no regrets so as to enjoy the process to your fullest possible abilities to sharpen a saw is to be completely focused on the process that is enjoyable and if you find that you set the teeth wrong you could have half finished the job that the tool sharpener took three time,s to learn .

  7. If you put it in prospective, you cant really manage the time, unless you build the time machine (Is it considered to be a project in the near future at NASA? 🙂 But we can certainly enjoy our time and add value to it. Good luck with your project I enjoy reading your blog … gives me inspiration

  8. Very cool site. Nice philosophy regarding getting the most important things done first. This is so hard for some people to understand. A simple analogy may help: “Put the large rocks in the jar first”. I love motivational websites.

    Thank you.

    May time be carried safely,

  9. Wow, I've taken my share of time management classes also. But I've never really thought of it like “When compared to focus, passion, and purpose, time is an irrelevant artifact. The sharper your focus is the sharper you are as a leader.” That makes sense to me and I can relate to that.

    I think we only worry about things we don't handle well. I see a lot of colleagues and family members get sad when they grow older. But I don't feel that way (at least just yet). I feel like I am accomplishing enough for my age, and look forward to coming years with hope, and that makes me not regret my age. I guess when you have focus, passion and purpose, and I'd add a little bit of luck to the mix, people feel good about how they are spending their time, which in turn means they don't have to worry about it.

    Thanks for the post.

    Manager @

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