Disclaimer: it has taken me a lot of juggling and reprioritization before I could sit down and write this time management blog post.
Things move quickly, and you have to constantly pivot when you work in PR. If you can’t do that and you lack time management skills, you’ll quickly fall into a vicious cycle of one task falling behind schedule, another deadline missed, your teammates’ deadlines missed because your deadline was missed, and so on in the domino chain of events. Below are seven tips and techniques for better managing your time, so you and your teams can accomplish more.
Work smarter, not harder. Set a goal for the amount of time you spend on each task on your to-do list. Then stick to that goal. If you find you go over the allotted time, determine where you were inefficient or could have worked more productively, so next time you have a similar task, you can improve on your productivity.
Eliminate distractions. The constant pings of Skype or chatter of co-workers could make you lose focus. When you need to crank, find a quiet area and get off Skype or emails, and just work, being sure your teams know how to reach you for urgent matters.
Know when you work best. Schedule your day based on your personal productivity. If you work best right after lunch, make sure you prioritize that time to work on more intensive projects that require you to be on your A-game.
Prioritize the important stuff first. It should be obvious that urgent and important items need to come ahead of less urgent and important things. But what comes second? It should be the easy stuff that you can just knock off your to-do list quickly to keep them from bogging you down.
Learn when to say no. If you legitimately have a full plate and cannot take on another end-of-day deadline, communicate that with your managers and teammates to adjust timestamps, reprioritize your to-dos or redistribute the work among the team, so either you can take on the other project or it can be reassigned elsewhere.
Time box. Similar to point one, box your tasks within fixed time slots, and commit to working on those tasks in those periods of time without distractions. When the time is up, move onto your next time box, but set another time box for later on. Instead of committing to work until you’re done, you’re committing to making progress on a project.
Get a pomodoro timer. The pomodoro technique is named for the type of timer the creator happened to have, but any timer will do. The steps are easy: set your pomodoro to 25 minutes, work on a task until it rings. When it does, put a checkmark on a post-it note or notebook, then take a short break of 5 minutes. Every four checkmarks, take a longer 15 or 20-minute break. This is good for also making progress on projects and taking breaks to refocus and revitalize yourself.