This might not seem to be about policing, but bear with me because it really is.
I am executing a will. It is an easy will, but despite being a qualified legal executive (which was handy in police work, believe it or not) I have found the process to be somewhat wearing. Just as you think all is going well, another mole jumps up to be whacked. Yes, exactly like police work.
And here’s a mistake I made, and one which you may occasionally make yourself, and the ‘time management’ solution.
Of course, in this example there’s money involved, money needed by the estate’s heirs, and the letters tend to be ‘taking’ rather than ‘giving’. And you will be happy or completely uncaring to know that all the problems sorted themselves out quite amicably (so far).
Anyway, on the Friday I’d be made aware that another executor had received a brown envelope from the DWP or HMRC – it is utterly uncanny how many of those arrive on a Friday. So I’d open said letter in the early evening, see the demand, realise that there was a new workload to add to the overall project, further realise that addressing, even just researching the demand involved others – and that they’d all gone home for the weekend. So now I have a problem in my head about which I can do absolutely nothing for 72 hours.
My solution: when the next letter arrived – on a Friday – I let it lie. I put it on my desk and left it until Monday afternoon. Only then did I read it, and make the enquiry related to its content.
No stress, problem addressed while in a better state of mind, and therefore while not starting an argument with the poor messenger at their end.
It is a simple solution, although I acknowledge that it might initially be seen to be impossible at work. But here’s a thought.
If it is mail, in an envelope, then it IS NOT URGENT. It’s 2021. Even the sender knows it’ll take time to be responded to. Nothing urgent is now sent by snail mail. If you are busy doing other projects – and you always are – then, assuming you have planned your day as best you can as per my advice in earlier posts, opening the letter and adding further demands on your already full mind is almost guaranteed to be stressful.
And never, ever, EVER open a letter just before you go off duty or onto rest days. The content – not urgent, remember – will play on your mind when you can’t do anything about it.
Let it lie until you aren’t as busy, and you have the time you need to deal with whatever comes, with the people needed to deal with it, actually available.
I grant you this isn’t as easy with e-mails, which ping, but I still suggest that if you can possibly train yourself to do it, don’t open e-mails after the mid-point of your tour of duty unless it’s by pre-arrangement (you expect it and know what it’s about), or marked with a great big red exclamation mark that suggests the sender thinks it IS urgent. (£10 says it rarely is.)
But don’t tell your Inspector I told you. She will still be living under the old ‘do everything now’ mentality that is as ineffective now as it was in 1986, when I started.
For more on comms management, read this HUGE, cheap (£12.99) book and learn how to enjoy your work all over again.