The Christmas period is officially over, and the world kicks reluctantly back into motion. All those tasks you had to put off because other people weren’t available (either by choice or because ‘it’s Christmas, it can wait’) now proliferate your to do list – just as more work comes in that was itself generated by the Christmas period. Meanwhile, all those people who left you alone from the 20th of December are now demanding that you respond to their demands, ignorant of the fact that if they’d made them when they were ‘leaving it for after New Year’ then you’d have probably already done it. But now, they’ve reduced your timescale and will blame you if you can’t comply.
Aren’t people fun?
I know, from reading reports and social media posts, that many front line police officers and staff feel that they cannot cope. I think you can. The problem is less about feeling overwhelmed than it is the fact that you’re not being told how to whelm. (MS Word recognised ‘whelm’, much to my surprise!)
Think of it this way, with a bad analogy. In times of real challenge, like World war 2, people coped. People always do. So can you. You just need to organise your head. Which, of course, you can’t do. Your head is not an organised planning system. It can keep everything in itself, but it doesn’t do so in an organised system with a simple retrieval method. It’s just a library with books all over the place.
Instead of trying to keep everything in your head, keep it on paper. When something comes up, the immediate thought is ‘another thing for me to remember’. But once you write down what it is, you don’t have to remember, and you know you won’t forget. The stress reduces.
Next, you decide what you can do about it, now. And if the answer is ‘nothing’, it has to wait. If the answer is ‘plan’, then start making a plan.
David Allen of Getting Things Done fame, makes a salient point. You can’t ‘do’ a project: you can only do tasks or actions towards getting that project done. So your mindset shouldn’t be ‘I have to detect this immensely complicated fraud’: it needs to be ‘I have to visit the complainant.’ No more. Until that complainant is seen, there is no immensely complicated fraud.
Once the complainant has been seen, the next actions can be planned, and executed one at a time. And when they aren’t being planned or executed, they can be ignored, and your attention directed towards other things.
One at a time.
So when someone passes their festive season procrastination down the slippery slope to you, write it down, and only give it the appropriate attention. Not deep, angst-ridden, stress-inducing overthinking. Just. Enough. Attention. For. Now.
You can manage quite a serious workload if you do that. I currently have about 30 projects on the go at the moment. I know I can’t do everything about all of them every day. But, for some reason, many of you feel like you should.
You can’t. But you can know what those projects are and manage them effectively.
Just by doing what I suggested. And, perhaps, a little more. Seek out training on how to manage multiple tasks. You can buy my book Police Time Management, which addresses your particular situation in depth, or you can look at YouTube videos which proliferate on how to do what I have proposed.
It really isn’t complicated, once you understand you can do it.