“My name is David, I am an addict.” As a student of Stephen Covey’s wide-ranging and deep thinking on personal, interpersonal and organisational leadership I have a nasty habit, perhaps that of an investigator, of seeking to research behind the books, insofar as I have obtained copies of all his pre-7 Habits writing and historical copies of his company’s training materials. (I have temporarily banned myself from E-Bay following two rather costly purchases. But my collection is huge.)
The beauty of doing this research in the discovery of nuggets that were lost in later works, and this week was no exception. It wasn’t necessarily a hugely new nugget, but it was a hitherto unseen (by me) use of a metaphor which I thought bore some respect. It related to his tenet that the Compass is more important than the Clock, and the idea that where we are going is far more important than how quickly we get there. It was this.
When you’re out walking and using a (non-digital!) compass, you will be familiar with how the needle jiggles about. In my newest acquisition (a 1998 Facilitator’s Manual) Covey reminded the reader that when this happens the unthinking yet practical and sensible course of action taken by any rambler is to stop, and just stand still. To settle and be still for a moment while the necessary data is read, and a decision made. To Pause and Plan.
All too often, people – in particular police people – who are buffeted by the ‘now’, and who are therefore living from moment to moment in a permanent crisis mode, spend their time putting plasters on problems just to get through to the next challenge. This seems, in the moment, to be the appropriate thing to do, but all too often it is self-defeating. It doesn’t address the stress, it creates it. Just as you think you’ve solved a problem its nature changes, or an unconsidered element jumps out and shouts ‘AHA! You missed me!’ The problem re-asserts itself, but now with an added ‘you’re an idiot’ sub-plot.
Applying the simple, the profound, the decidedly common sense approach of Pause and Plan allows the exponent to stop, to take the time needed to consider ALL the issues and potential solutions, and to make a plan based on all available data, without emotion or self-imposed pressure.
And the Pause and Plan approach doesn’t just apply to this moment, the day’s challenges, the big project – it applies to your whole career, in fact your whole life. In my book Police Time Management I go into greater depth of the life plan idea but, for now, try this.
Plan your week. Look at all your appointments and projects for the next week using the Weekly Planner Page found HERE – I suggest the Landscape version. List the tasks you need to complete that you believe you must or should do, the ones which are truly important. That will include looking at appointments and considering things you need to plan in their respect, too. Once you have that overview of your week, focus as much of your effort as you can on making it come to pass. (If you have no appointments but a plethora of tasks, plan those tasks into the week as appointments, if you can.)
If you are challenged by events during that week, remember the motto – Pause and Plan. What is happening, what can you do about it, when do you need to do it, who can you ask to help you do it, what do you need to get it done. Only after the Pause, only after the Plan, should you start to act on what you decided.
Paus and Plan works for your life, your home, your career, your week, your day – and in the moment.