Yes, I know. “What’s he on about, when do we have nothing to do?”
More than you think. For example, front office duties at night (assuming yours hasn’t been shut) or on early weekend mornings; scene guard ‘after hours’; that moment when you’ve arrived early for an appointment; waiting around in Court to give evidence just before you’re sent home again; that sort of time. Time when you can’t really commit to something that will take massive amounts of attention and input because the interruptions are inevitable or you simply don’t have the resources (although I again acknowledge that smartphones and individual-issue laptops do make some work possible).
You do have moments when you have gaps. Maybe not many, but you do.
How to fill them?
Use your imagination, first. On the basis that such times exist, you need a strategy that you can apply at a moment’s notice, because if you have to think about the gap too long, it’s over and the time’s been wasted. Decide, in advance, what you can do in those moments.
Here are some suggestions, but you need to use YOUR imagination, not mine.
- Make telephone calls that need making but aren’t necessarily planned for; for example, update the witnesses you didn’t have time to update in your original plan for the day, or make appointments that need to be made.
- Study. If you don’t have a study manual handy you can still go to the Web and read articles on your chosen area of study.
- Solve other problems. Again, Google and YouTube are amazing sources of education and personal development. I stress, here, that better use of your time does not include watching Strictly on iPlayer. LEARN. (It’s easier to explain surfing Legislation.go.uk, than it is using the iPlayer, too.)
- Meditate. Listen – I’m not the greatest advocate of ye Mindfulness obsession but having quiet time can recharge your batteries if you’re not quite the Type A productivity obsessive.
- Carry a book in your ‘stuff’. A thin one, maybe, one that educates or informs.
- Practice public speaking. Might make you look a bit weird of you’re talking to yourself at the scene of a murder but keep your voice down and imagine making a properly constructed presentation on an interesting case you’ve dealt with.
There is ALWAYS something you can be doing that isn’t just idly thinking about life in general.
That said, perhaps you’re really over-worked (or just think you are – which is psychologically the same thing with the same effect) and you need a chill. In which case, see (4) above as your first port of call. Or you could use affirmations – just repeat a mantra to yourself that serves you: for example, some staid old tenets, “This, too, shall pass”, “I am capable of this,” “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”. They may seem cheesy, I know, but these sayings invite your brain to think about HOW to make yourself more capable, better and more content. Which is the idea.
You never have nothing to do IF you have a sense of purpose, a personal vision or sense of where you want to be that you aren’t, already. You serve that vision by making sure that what you are doing in the moment pulls you towards it, rather than away.
Carpe Diem, as they say. Every Diem.