I Told You So. But You Do Have Time. Happy New Year.

Well, did it happen? Did you put things off ‘until the New Year’ that are going to bite you this coming week? Or, if you didn’t put things off, are other people now chasing you up to take action on things that they could have asked you to do weeks ago but procrastinated because “You know, it’s Christmas”? Either way, shame. ITYS.

If either of those circumstances have arisen then things that were Important but Not Urgent are now Urgent. Congratulations! Now, your own Important but NOT Urgent projects just got firmly sent to the proverbial back burner while you engage with other peoples’ urgencies because of their unconscious (or occasionally deliberate) adherence to the ‘nothing gets done between the 20th of December and 4th of January’ approach to work.

All is not lost. I recognise that this depends on your position in the organisation, and/or your ability to formulate the words and sentences needed to engage with the following suggestion, but here it is, anyway.

“Unfortunately, your self-created urgency does not trump the importance of the tasks I didn’t put off until ‘after Christmas’ (air quotes needed if you’re in a face-to-face) and I will deal with your urgency at the appropriate time.”

You can amend this.

The less sassy version is this: “When do you need that done by?” if your relationship is a good one, and assuming that the request is not being made by a bully, then a deadline will be identified that means that while ‘now’ was implied in the request, ‘when you can manage it but before X’ is the new default. NOW you can manage your work with the new responsibility catered for, and without creating other pressures.

In this job, urgencies area a given. If you’re front-line, emergencies area daily event. If you’re fron office, urgencies are all you get because you can’t plan for the next attendee and their individual problems until they’ve made it to the front of the queue.

That doesn’t mean you surrender. It doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t plan. It means that you have to develop a strategy that means you can provide the appropriate response in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time. One way of doing that is to try, as far as is meaningfully possible, to deal with each event/thing as far as you reasonably can until its ‘next step’ is either out of your control, unreasonable given the next demand, or passed (correctly) into someone else’s care.

(That, dear Ops Room staff, does not mean ‘adding to someone’s list’ (see m’book) if they are busy. It means keeping it on your list until there is someone available. It’s just pixels on a  screen; it’s not an incoming Asagai chucked by a closing Zulu.)

Time management is Task Management. Yes, some tasks are drop-everything emergencies. Unfortunately, our work creates an incorrect psychological imperative that makes everything a NOW task when nine times out of then it really isn’t. Just take your time to allocate the appropriate level of attention to things rather than simply thinking if you don’t do it now, all the other stuff coming will get you.

There. Is. Enough. Time.

As you may have noticed when you prepare for a leave period and manage to tidy all your work up before you go home. Funny, that.

M’Book. Available at AMAZON. (Click the link)

Published by policetimemanagement

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

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