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The wife’s got the painters in. Not a euphemism, we’re having the lounge done properly. If I painted it, it would look somewhat off-centre because I can’t paint straight lines. Of course, losing the main living area of the house for the day is quite disruptive and I insisted on making sure that the wi-fi was still plugged in, even if I am missing the morning TV and the amusement of the Trump Impeachment debacle. Hence the early post.

There are two kinds of disruption – planned and unplanned, and the amount of whining associated with either is often disproportionate to the amount of notice provided. It’s as if knowing in advance what could go wrong is more annoying than the unexpected. Having notice gives you time to plan, but it also gives you time to consider ‘what is wrong’ and ‘why didn’t (someone else) think about this when they organised it?’. NOT having notice brings out the martyr in us, but it also brings forward a surprising amount of initiative and creativity.

And people like that, because it the adults’ time to play.

Personally, I prefer the forward-planned disruption because of the time management protocols I can bring into play, but I also enjoy the unplanned interference with a plan.

Why is that?

It is because the unexpected disruption brings into focus just how well I planned the day.

If I have planned well, I have done the most important tasks before the disruption arises or, if the disruption opens the day, I can plan major events around it. I can fit the new problems in and that’s the exciting and challenging part.

When I was a DC in a busy city, disruption was the order of the day. Murder, death and mayhem were routine. But unlike many of my great colleagues, who’d abandon their intended plans when ‘something big’ came in, I’d work my tasks in around the new stuff. If there was a ‘prisoner in the bin’, they would just sit and wait and think. I would use the time where I was waiting for solicitors and other teams’ input by making telephone calls, altering priorities and even conducting previously-planned interviews around the new priority.

On the day, the effect didn’t show. But a week later, when they were playing catch up with all the stuff that hadn’t gone away while they ‘waited’, I was free to deal with new things, or able to do a better job of all the ‘old’ things like paperwork, case file preparation, and so on. I’d created time, while they had just packed what was available with the stuff they could have already done.

Priorities matter, but you can work all of your priorities around each other.

I tried, goodness I tried, to train colleagues in time management but the organisation itself wasn’t open to mass TM training for all. Despite a paper in 2010 about it, colleagues still run around chasing their tails because they haven’t been taught how to manage themselves in the context of the time available and the people they spend that time with.

There are many professionals who don’t even think they need time management training – which is odd in some cases because they bill by the hour.

Personally, I consider it not just a professional necessity but in times of mental health focus I consider that it is a lifestyle necessity, one which would have a positive effect on not just our work but our personal lives, too.

Imagine how much stress you’d NOT suffer if that small pile of paper had been done at the optimum moment instead of the ever-growing pile being addressed ‘when I get around to it’.

Think about it. Disruption is fun – if you have a strategy for dealing with it.