During a regular day at the office of Shelton Interactive, it’s not uncommon to hear, “You guys, it’s almost October. Where has this month gone?” or, “When did noon roll around?” Phrases such as these have become somewhat of a joke between our employees, and are used as an underlying attempt to lighten a stressful situation that would otherwise be intimidating.
Jokes aside, it’s all fun and games until somebody misses a deadline. The PR industry is rapidly growing—recent statistics show that within the next 10 years, the rate of change in employment will increase by 21 percent. So, what does that mean for publicists now? It means a consistent increase in the amount of tasks handed to us on a regular basis, and consequently, a high demand for exceptional time-management skills.
In my opinion, time management should be included in the definition of a “publicist.” It is such a fundamental part of our job that often goes unnoticed. Between handling media and client relations, writing for press and keeping an eye on breaking news, sometimes it becomes tricky to find time for a lunch break!
In order to avoid some stressful workday situations like missing a deadline or forgetting about an important call, here are five time-management tips that, as a PR professional, I do daily to increase my own efficiency, and minimize stress as the day progresses.
- Make a to-do-list. Start off your day by thinking about what tasks are at hand. Organizing thoughts on paper ensures they won’t be forgotten in an hour. Warning: Keep realistic expectations for yourself! Biting off more than you can chew may mean trouble ahead. Our client Gary Keller has a thing or two to say about that – really only one thing. Check out The One Thing and the power of hyper-focus.
- Keep your inbox squeaky clean. This is a relatively new task for me, but incredibly helpful none-the-less! Creating inbox folders for each client or campaign you’re on allows for quick access to messages you may need to re-visit in the future.
- Exercise some self-control. We live in a digital age, and have the ability to access an incredible amount of information with just the click of a button. However, just because it is available to us does not mean YouTube and Facebook should be open at all times. Close the distractions until it’s break time!
- Brain fart? No problem! As a public relations professional, working with a team is an extremely important part of our daily routine. Take advantage of having other people around you. If you need to pick someone else’s brain to get out of a writing slump, go for it!
- Prioritize, prioritize, PRIORITIZE! Yes, I’m yelling through all-caps. To me, this is the most important part of time management as a publicist. I’ve always been taught that if you find yourself overwhelmed in a sea of assignments and don’t know where to begin, start with whatever has the soonest deadline, and then go from there.