How has COVID affected your time management?
If you are anything like I was, you are frustrated that the imposition of new work – work which doesn’t necessarily ‘float your boat’ – has meant delaying all those other tasks, appointments and commitments that you (dare I say) ‘real’ police work created nearly a year ago. The victims you care about have been poorly served by circumstances beyond your control, but Force priorities conflict between ‘Do this NOW’ and ‘Why haven’t you done THAT?’
Two thoughts. First of all – it’s been like that since Bobby Peel invented you. New work has been coming down the tracks since the first Booby made his first arrest and was told off because while he was processing Bill Sykes, someone else burgled Pickwick’s Newsagents. It’s an occupational hazard.
Second – and bear with me for just a few minutes – your inability to manage is partly your fault. Not wholly your fault, mind – just partly. Why?
Well, first of all the bit that isn’t your fault is the failure of the Service to provide any meaningful time management training above and beyond what your Tutor showed you. And s/he learned that by themselves, too.
The part that is your fault is also a bit environmentally-influenced, in that you have bought into the ‘everything is urgent’ paradigm, which means that you tend to focus on the ‘NOW’ at the expense of the ‘REST’. The fear, as it were, of the potential for yet another interruption requires that you focus only on what is in front of you and literally procrastinate everything else. And then you wonder why (given the Bill Sykes experience) all the ‘old’ stuff is still waiting for attention after all your diligent focus was expended on today’s priority.
When I was a Divisional DC I would, as would many, be drafted in for major incidents. What I noticed was that everyone on those incidents (other than the Major Incident Team itself) stopped all work on their ‘day jobs’. Then, after the who-knows-how-long on the murder they’d go to their in-trays and find a plethora of unread messages, incomplete files and associated CPS demands that they’d deliberately ignored while on the Major.
I didn’t. I recognised that an inordinate amount of Major Incident time is spent waiting around – and it was those periods which I used to catch up and act upon those things which I could reasonably fit in without negatively influencing the Big Jobby. Instead of just chillin’, like so many colleagues who, when it was over, felt ‘stress’ because of the overflowing admin bomb they’d let fester.
Productivity isn’t just about filling your hours and looking busy. It isn’t ‘I am walking about with a memo in my hand therefore I am productive’. (As some did.)
Productivity is about managing yourself in the context of the time available, in order to allocate the appropriate amount of time and attention to those things which you can reasonably be expected to achieve during your working hours. No more, no less.
When I promote Productivity for Law Enforcement Professionals in my book I am not asking you to do more. I am helping you to do what you have to do in a more controlled, prioritised and appropriate manner. There is a whole chapter on this very phenomenon, the ‘Do Everything’ approach that just creates stress while achieving very little.
Think about what you are doing instead of blindly just ‘doing’.
You’ll find it intellectually stimulating as well as extremely calming.