Monday, January 16, 2012

What do you do with your time?

For anyone actually assigned to a ship, submarine, or aircraft, the concept of free time is probably pretty foreign. Once sea time ends and shore duty begins, the LTjg or LT that previously couldn't find a spare minute in the flood of CASREPs, SITREPs, tagouts and WAFs is suddenly thrust into a 9-5 job that really only requires focus from 9-2 (or maybe 9-11, depending on where you work).

Everyone has different priorities at this point. For some people, the extra time is useful to reconnect with your family, or pursue your hobbies that you couldn't do before. For others, there are opportunities for travel, or perhaps address the issues one saw in the fleet.

My biggest issues with rolling to shore duty is that so little guidance is given as to what to accomplish with that sudden rush of free time. I see a lot of JOs blowing away time on Facebook and other websites on the NIPRnet, which is rather disturbing. We're paid to be professional naval officers, yet when we're not immediately being tasked with something, we can quickly denigrate to doing a whole lot of nothing.

I view shore time as the opportunity to plus-up on training opportunities that aren't feasible when you're at sea. This week I intend to highlight some of those. I used my "shore duty" (in quotes because I spent 50% of it deployed) to finish a lot of joint training and learn a foreign language, as well as fix my electronic service record that my submarine had woefully neglected. I did this without staying at work late, mainly by not wasting my time while I was at work.

The first thing you should do when rolling to shore duty is look at your community briefs. The briefs are located here. Every officer community is different, and each has its own priorities for making rank. After reviewing the brief, you need to decide what 2-3 things you actually want to accomplish during your shore duty. Once you have that plan, when you first report aboard you'll want to keep an eye out for how to integrate what you want to do into your work cycle.

For example, I spent a decent part of my shore duty overseas in Bahrain. It only takes about two weeks to discover all the places to eat and drink on the relatively small island, I brought my JPME Phase I material with, which I could work on both at work (its perfect to read while you're waiting for code to compile) and in my BOQ room. By the time I came home, I had finished the course, had a JS7 AQD, and could spend more time with my family instead of working on JPME.

With a good plan, and some tips you'll see this week, you can make your shore duty time work for your career instead of putting it on hold.