Leaping forward

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey L. Neuberger
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Welcome to an "intercalary" year, also known as a Leap Year. The designation of a Leap Year has a long and interesting history, mixed with science and religion.

Our calendar, the Gregorian calendar by name, measures the time and seasons for us in days, months and years. Because a solar year is six hours longer than our standard 365 days, the calendar accommodates the addition of 24 hours in four years with a Leap Year, adding one day to the month of February. I guess we can say once every four years we play 'catch up.'

Someone has humorously noted that time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once. Whatever it is, time is something we must definitely manage well or it will manage us. 

Consider this: suppose you had a bank account that credited you with $86,400 every day. Suppose also there was one catch - this account must be spent in its entirety or lost at the end of the day.  What would you do with that $86,400? 

You would spend it, of course. 

Each of us has such a bank account, and its name is TIME! Every morning we are credited with 86,400 seconds. Every night whatever we don't use to good purpose is lost. If we fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is ours. 

Gain or loss, it's up to us. The 2007 Wasting Time survey sponsored by Salary.com, Inc. noted the average employee wastes 1.7 hours of an 8.5 hour work day. The top three time wasters at work were personal internet use (37.4 percent), socializing with co-workers (20.3 percent), and conducting personal business (17 percent). Companies lose billions in salaries annually for which they receive no direct benefit simply because people "waste time." 

Another way of looking at "time and life" is from a 1988 survey of 6,000 people conducted by U.S. News and World Report. In a lifetime the average American will spend six months sitting at stoplights, eight months opening junk mail, one year looking for misplaced objects, two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls, four years doing housework, five years waiting in line, and six years eating. 

I can only imagine how this 'list' has changed in twenty years since it was collected in 1988 - with time on the computer taking up more time than anything else! 

We can summarize, add up, quantify and categorize everything we do from A to Z, but we must know how to make the most of time. We can focus our attention on time-savers and time-wasters, but the most important thing is to keep things in perspective. 

As I learned on long deployments, don't just count the days; make the days count. When you do, you'll make a big leap forward!