You NEED Structure – to be Flexible.

“I don’t want to manage my time, I like to be spontaneous.”

An amusing falsehood I often heard during the time management input I provided to my colleagues when I had that opportunity. Now, in their defence, the people who routinely made that statement were office-based: I can’t say I ever recall those responsible for incident attendance EVER saying that! Imagine a uniformed patrol officer saying, “I don’t have enough opportunity to be spontaneous.”

Nevertheless, it is a feeling some people have that their working life (and personal life, given the crossover between the two in these modern times) is too restrictive and they feel that they want some time to be more in control of what they’re doing.

There is a balance to be had between two apparently conflicting types of working practice, I admit.

The two types of work pattern to which I refer are Structure, and Flexibility. A lot of my participants would have sworn that they worked completely under the one or the other ‘heading’, but the truth is that everyone works somewhere along the continuum between the two. Patrol officers are definitely at the ‘flexible’ end, withing the structure of shift work, briefings and pre-planned operations. Office-based staff tended to work towards the ‘structured’ end – turn up, deal with the in-box, go home – but detectives, control room staff and operational managers (e.g. Inspector ranks) were closer to the flexible side than data analysts (for example).

The real challenge is – to be effective, you can only be flexible within the structure that serves it?

It is the structure that serves your ability to be flexible, so that you don’t completely randomise your work and in doing so massively reduce productivity, and undermine the purpose, aims and objectives of the organisation for which you work.

Imagine turning up when you want, doing what you feel like doing, then going when you feel like it? Stupid? Well, yes, but that’s what total flexibility would cause to happen. But knowing what is expected of you, within the timescales that apply, means you can plan what you have to do – and be flexible around that plan. Both sides win. And the same goes for your personal life, although you can probably be a bit more spontaneous there. Providing you don’t forget your partner’s birthday…..

In my book Police Time Management I delve much deeper into the subject of flexibility and planning. Why not have a look at the ‘Look Inside’ facility and see if there is something that will serve your ability to do what you want to do at work, while still doing your duty?

It worked for me……………

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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