Trending Topics

Active supervision challenge: Scheduling

When you use the active supervision skill of scheduling, you take all the decisions you made regarding time management and add it to your calendaring system


Scheduling involves taking all of the goals and priorities that you developed with your time management skill and putting them into your calendaring system.

Getty Images

Hello everyone, Coach Paul here. We are nearing the end of our active supervision challenge.

Way back in January I introduced the active supervision challenge on Police1. In this series, I describe the 10 skills of active supervision, which I define as the continual and consistent enforcement of the rules of your organization.

The nine skills that I have discussed thus far are performance management, critical thinking, communication, courage, training, problem-solving, innovation, inspiration and time management.

This month we will be looking at the active supervision skill of scheduling. Scheduling is time management in action. In this article, I will discuss the importance of scheduling, describe a few calendaring systems for you to consider and outline the four steps you need to take to become a scheduling master. As usual, I will conclude with tips and techniques for supervisors working in special circumstances.

The importance of scheduling

Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow we were able to get more time when we needed it? For example, let’s say that this week I discover that I have 46 hours worth of work to do during my 40-hour workweek. I would love to go to the time bank and draw out an extra six hours. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way. The amount of time that we receive is fixed. There are only 24 hours every day and 7 days every week. Therefore, we are responsible for determining how we are going to spend our limited time.

Scheduling is the active supervision skill that helps with the process of effectively planning and then using our time.

You will experience several benefits when you develop the skill of scheduling, including:

  • Realistically predict task and project completion dates. How many of you have trouble meeting your deadlines? If you are like the majority of supervisors I know and have worked with, on your to-do list you have overdue employee evals to write, reports you are late in reviewing and approving, and a couple of project updates you were supposed to submit a few days ago. When you develop the skill of scheduling, you will not only be able to accurately project when you will be able to complete your assigned tasks, but you will also be able to complete those tasks before their deadlines arrive.
  • Understand your real capacity for taking on extra work. Most people think they have more time than they actually do. This misconception makes it easier to say yes to extra work when we really should be working on developing the habit of saying no. Using a schedule will help you identify your true capacity and help you set clear boundaries without feeling like you could be doing more. Your schedule will show the times when you are clearly unable to do one more thing.
  • Ensure that the important things in your life actually happen. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend you read Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement. In this book, author Dr. Kevin Gilmartin writes about one of the challenging facing law enforcement personnel is their inability to plan for spending time with their loved ones and friends. This failure to schedule time with the people who matter the most results in divorce, estrangement, distress and loneliness for most law enforcement supervisors. When you become skilled at scheduling, you take all of those plans and aspirations and turn them into reality.

Three calendaring systems for your consideration

As I wrote earlier, scheduling involves taking all of the goals and priorities that you developed with your time management skill and putting them into your calendaring system. All calendar systems operate similarly. They show the date and list times starting from 00:00 AM in the morning to 00:00 PM in the evening. To add your event to the calendar, you just type in the information, including the name of the event, start and stop times and any other important information.

Here are the three most popular calendaring systems out there:

  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Apple Calendar
  • Google Calendar

Four steps to becoming a scheduling master

Now that I have talked about the importance of scheduling and listed the three most popular calendar systems on the market, l want to share with you the four steps to becoming a scheduling master.

  • Step 1: Choose a calendaring system. Select a system that your department has approved, which is usually Microsoft Outlook, and which seems easy for you to use. Get signed in and add the app to your desktop, laptop and smartphone.
  • Step 2: Input your known events and meetings into your calendaring system. Add all of the events you know about into your calendar. Add the due dates for any tasks or projects into your calendar as well. If you are doing it, it should be on your calendar.
  • Step 3: Block out time for completing tasks. Let’s say that in four weeks you have four evals that are due. You estimate that it will take you eight hours to finish them all. Starting in week one, and continuing for the next four weeks, add two hours to your calendar per week and title it: Employee Evals. Now you have broken down that large task into smaller, more manageable tasks. And you have given yourself time to get it done before your deadline.
  • Step 4: Calendar your intentions. How many of you like to fish or camp or spend time with family and friends? How many of you actually do those things? To help transform your intentions into reality and preserve and develop your relationships with your loved ones and friends, enter those intended events on your calendar.

Bonus content: Tips and techniques

Working supervisor (splits your time between supervising and performing line-level duties): As a working supervisor, developing the skill of scheduling will be extremely important. You will want to use your calendar as a tool for planning the line-level work you need to do, as well as the supervisory tasks you need to accomplish. Using a calendar will also help you know when you are switching between roles, which will make life feel less blurry for you.

Small agency supervisor (supervises a small group of paid and volunteer followers spread out over a distance): As a small agency supervisor, you will want to use your calendar to schedule your ancillary duties in a manner that makes sense for your situation. You will also want to schedule activities that allow you to communicate with your followers on a regular basis. By putting them in your calendar, you can ensure that you are meeting with everyone and not leaving anyone out.

Minority supervisor (supervises a group of followers who are different than you in regard to race, gender, ethnicity and age): As a minority supervisor, you want to use your calendar to schedule those relationship-building activities that I have written about these past several months. Don’t leave it up to chance that you will find the time to accomplish your goals in this area. Schedule times to speak with your followers, both as individuals and as a team. Put those events on your calendar.


Effective supervisors are masterful schedulers. When you want to make sure that something gets done, you need to get in the habit of scheduling it on your calendar. Our memories are not as good as we think they are, and our workdays can go by rapidly. Active supervisors use their schedules to transform their good intentions into great results.

If you downloaded or printed the free active supervision checklist that we provided in the first article and have linked here for easy download, you can update it with this month’s information. Add four lines: Choose a calendaring system, input your known events, block out time for completing tasks and calendar your intentions. Rate yourself again now that you have a better understanding of scheduling. Give yourself a + (plus sign) if you believe that you are good at the skill, a √ (checkmark) if you believe that you are OK at the skill, or a – (minus sign) if you believe you need to work on the skill. After you have rated yourself, please take some time to write down your plan for developing your active supervisor skills of inspiring your followers.

If you have any questions about this skill or any of the 10 active supervision skills, submit your questions here. We will gather them up and answer them for you.

I’m Coach Paul, thank you again for taking the time to read this article. Keep your eyes, mind and heart open out there.

Coach Paul Conor, Ph.D., is an organizational psychologist and management consultant who has been working with law enforcement leaders for more than 20 years. He is a former US Marine infantry officer, who led Marines in combat during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Coach Paul is an award-winning author, California state-certified Team Building Workshop facilitator and former university professor. He is also a reserve lieutenant with the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s Department.