Written for PRSSA FORUM — published January 23, 2012
When I made the transition from classroom to cubeland, the biggest bear I faced was time management.
Students usually have the luxury of having at least a few days before turning in an assignment, whereas public relations practitioners often have tasks that were due 10 minutes ago.
Instead of becoming overwhelmed, be prepared for these moments by practicing good time management.
Use these tips as a reference:
1. Find A System That Works For You
- There are countless ways to systematically organize your time and responsibilities. Choosing the system that works best with your personality will make adding agenda items easy to maintain, ensuring follow-through of tasks. Checklists and calendars are two common examples, but even the components within these systems are complex (e.g. digital vs. notebook, color coding vs. separate pages). For me, Outlook’s built-in checklist app makes it easy to link specific emails to tasks, which I can assign a priority and deadline.
2. Get It Right The First Time
- So much of your day can be wasted if your work requires heavy revisions. Successfully completing tasks the first time will not only allow you to keep your other deadlines, it also helps your colleagues keep theirs. Ask your supervisor questions before you begin an assignment to clarify what the end product should look like. If you feel a task is taking longer than necessary to complete, ask another staffer if they know a shortcut. Discovering efficient methods rewards you with more time in your day to accomplish other tasks.
3. Prioritize And Manage Expectations
- Working on multiple accounts or having multiple supervisors is a recipe for miscommunication. Managers rarely discuss the things on your plate, so it’s your job to raise flags when you have competing deadlines. Talking through assignments will sometimes uncover some flexibility in deadlines; maybe your supervisor has a long meeting at the time you were originally tasked to turn something in for review. I don’t recommend you challenge every assignment, but do speak up when it is necessary.
Photo courtesy of flikr user star5112