Author: David Palmer
Review date: 09/12/2023
No of pages: 329
Year of publication: 06/09/2021
Police Time Management
The title of retired police detective and investigator David Palmer’s new book – about time management – is at the same time (pardon the pun) exactly describing his work, and regrettably under-selling it, writes Mark Rowe.
That’s because, as he writes, while calling for readers to take a fresh mindset to manage their time better, in truth you are not truly ‘managing time’. That’s because you can’t store it for use later. I am reminded of the physics teacher at school who made the same point about light, by pretending to store some in a bucket; the universe doesn’t work like that. You aren’t managing time at all, David writes (page 66), ‘you are managing the tasks, appointments, notes and contacts in the context of time available for their completion’. Hence the sub-title.
That matters to everyone, because quite apart from allowing yourself to be swamped by the sheer amount of email and other typed stuff at work and universally, part of the workplace is about managing the stuff that comes at you from colleagues and customers and so on. We each have to take responsibility; we each have to organise.
The subject of David’s highly useful book, therefore, is not only time management, but how you go about meetings and briefings, delegate, and are a leader, whether of yourself (David towards the end offers a couple of chapters on ‘personal leadership’ which includes ‘self-leadership’) and setting an example for others – because, to repeat, it’s only half the battle to manage your own time, if those around you do it badly or don’t even try, in the name of being spontaneous.
As comes out in the book, the goal is to do more than get things done, but to have a good overall life: “Then go home.” In other words, doing a professional job includes the skill to have a life of your own when not at work.
David notes early on that time management is a skill barely or not at all taught – yet it’s the skill to enable us to apply all the other training we are given, most effectively. While as the title suggests the book is aimed at the police, David also gives examples from his work as a private investigator; he is a past president of the Institute of Professional Investigators (IPI). Something David does not go into is data protection, although that is a further reason for an investigator taking time management seriously; for both require proper documentation – putting contacts in a (secure) store on an electronic device, rather than on random pieces of paper that gather on your desk.
A couple of quibbles; first, time management implies that things are concise, and David’s book does run to 300 pages, including at the end some blank template forms such as planning calendars. There’s scope for a boiled-down version of this book, and even a boiled-down version of the boiled-down. Second, as David does hint, technology changes and so do the demands on our time and how we can best manage it; meaning that a printed book on paper can get out of date; it’d be good if David were to offer this work as an electronic book, which would give a better option for an update. Because the need for such a book is not going to go away, given the sheer amount of data around, and ever more created. How we manage time, as the book sets out, also requires us to think ethically and philosophically; what do we want out of our job, career, and life?
You can buy Police Time Management on Amazon, as a paperback.