Most police officers consider themselves excellent multi-taskers. We juggle work, home, friends, side jobs, sport, workouts and wonder why we feel exhausted, falling asleep at the red light.
Rarely are we as good as we think at multi-tasking.
What if we were more honest with ourselves? What if we admitted that juggling and doing everything on the fly is not the best approach?
Stew Friedman, a professor of Management and director of the Work/Life Integration Project at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, wrote an article on how we spend our time. He says to reflect on how you spend your time, and ask how it aligns with the importance of the things that really matter to you. It made me say, “Well that’s obvious. Why didn’t I think of that?”
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Perhaps that’s the problem.
We are so busy that we don’t think and reflect. We charge ahead and trust that our super-human abilities — the ones we don’t actually have — will help us muddle through.
Friedman said, “We must take a step back to look, a self evaluation, looking at who and what is important, and what you can do that’s under your control to produce healthier outcomes. The big, big idea is being more conscious, more deliberate about the choices you make with respect to where you put your attention, your energy and your effort.”
I agree with Friedman. Aside from its simplicity, his extensive research confirmed that people who focus their attention on the management of time and other parts of life tend to be more productive.
He breaks life into four domains: work, family, community and self. Friedman then asks people to assign a level of importance to each domain, four percentages that add up to 100 percent. This simple exercise shows where you are putting your time. If you are giving too much time to your favorite bar, don’t wonder why there is trouble at home.
Is work cutting sharply into the amount of time you spend with your family?
Friedman recommends making simple changes in slight increments. For example, if you are carrying too much work with you during off hours — checking email on your phone or constantly taking calls when you’re with your family — try to create times where you cut yourself off electronically.
Every now and then it is healthy to take a self-inventory of our time. We must remember that time is a treasure!
We must continue to look inward and examine ourselves daily with questions like:
- Have I wasted my time today?
- Have I caused others to waste their time by disturbing them in their work?
- Do I try to participate in professional and social activities?
- Do I do my work when I should (today, now) or do I deceive myself by putting it off, which is equivalent to not doing it at all?
- Do I allow myself to be dominated by other officers?
- Do I try to be orderly in my work?
- Am I generous in the use of my time, devoting time for others?
By using time better, we discover what is really important. For me it is the little things, doing ordinary things very well.
It’s not too late to take stock of how we’re using our time.
We all get twenty-four hours in a day. How will you make the most of your time today?
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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