Updated: Apr 23, 2020
No matter the industry, we all seem to face a never-ending to-do list. For those of us in PR that usually consists of pitching, researching journalists’ recent articles, monitoring for media coverage, pitching, getting collateral material to the right people, writing press releases and media advisories, pitching, managing social accounts, and (did I mention?) pitching. We’re pretty much yoked to our phones during the waking hours, checking emails, texts, slack messages and HAROs. That’s why I’m sharing some tips on how to manage it all and start to form helpful habits that will keep things manageable long-term.
1. MANAGE YOUR PROJECTS
You’ve probably formed some habits with tracking your client activities and other responsibilities because you’re a functioning and totally awesome professional! But we all have room for improvement, right? Plus, with all of the new tools that keep popping up everywhere, you’re likely missing out on some amazingly helpful tech. For instance, a few months ago I discovered Workona. If you take anything away from this post, I hope that it’s this – WORKONA MAKES DIGITAL ORGANIZATION SO EASY. You can make different workspaces and then favorite tabs within each space. Each workspace is saved so when you open your browser, you can click on a workspace (mine include “send a press release”, “monitor client coverage”, “social media planning”, “freelance opps” and then each of my clients). Real life example – A client recently wanted to submit to Cannes Lions and with that comes a lot of document prep and of course the Lions submission portal and guidelines. I kept a workspace called “Cannes Submission” where I kept everything in one spot – I mean EVERYTHING. That way, whenever I needed to spend time on the submission, I didn’t waste 15 minutes pulling up all of my documents. Seriously, try it out. You’re welcome.
When working with an in-house team, I find Trello to be helpful, too. Trello is a visual collab tool that organizes your projects into neat and tidy little tiles on a master board so you can see the big picture. Plus, it’s color-coded so that you can immediately identify who is working on what and what is being worked on and when.
2. TO-DO LISTS, YOU NEED THEM
I love a good old-fashioned paper planner (YES, I have a soft spot for doodling and have a pretty planner to the right of my computer at all times!) and I utilize my iCalendar app to schedule out my day and have it accessible right on my phone at any moment. Literally everything goes in iCal – here’s why: 1. Most conference call creators import directly into iCal. 2. You can create a visual account of your day, including meetings, calls, slated time for certain tasks, appointments, etc. which can come in handy when trying to track your time. 3. You can invite others to an “event” so their calendar is blocked, too. 4. You can set up reoccurring reminders or appointments (a.k.a. send bills at the end of the month). Do we even need anymore? I think that is plenty! There are also great apps you can use to do a lot of the same things (Todoist, Wunderlist, etc.) but iCal is what works for me so that’s what I do. Plus, a shared calendar is a lifesaver. Personal note: My husband and I use a shared calendar on iCal to keep track of things like recycling days, giving our dogs flea + tick and heartworm prevention, DR appointments, flights, etc. and it is SO convenient.
3. CREATE SOME TEMPLATES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD
We all find ourselves doing a lot of the same tasks over and over – creating client proposals and contracts, media tracking, invoicing – and without a clear process in place or template to work from, you’re probably scrambling each time to pull up all your past documents, emails and spreadsheets for reference. The next time you sit down to do something you did last week or month, take a few moments to create a template and checklist that details the process. Templates are 10x more efficient!
4. START YOUR DAY WITH A FEW OF YOUR EASY TASKS
It just makes good sense to start with some softballs before you’re ready to knock one out of the park (Are you all proud of me for throwing in a sports analogy?) Now that you’re super organized, it’s time to tackle your to-do list. You know what’s most important, so keep that in mind. If a reporter is on a tight deadline and your delayed reply could jeopardize your client’s inclusion in the piece, get on that! But in general, when you’ve got coffee in hand and are ready to start your day, do a few tasks that are easy or spark joy for you (a Marie Kondo reference in the same paragraph as a sports analogy? This is premium content.) This will give you a burst of energy that will kickstart the rest of your day. If you get into a mid-day slump, take it back to another easy or mindless task that will undoubtedly pop up. It’ll rebuild your confidence so you feel like the super hero you truly are. Give it a try!