Have you ever had that moment where you become frozen in panic while looking at your to-do list? What should I tackle first when everything needed to be done yesterday? How do I complete items on my to-do list when the course of my day can feel out of my control?
Like any good PR pro looking for a solution, I do my research! Below is a list of my favorite productivity tips I’ve found and used successfully – because every would-be organized person loves lists.
Do your toughest/biggest project first thing in the morning: This tip is on almost every productivity list I’ve read – and it works. We often do the quick and easy projects first and procrastinate time-intensive tasks. The problem is the project requiring the most time and effort can get pushed down the list until “I have more time,” and when do we ever “have more time?” Do the time-intensive/difficult projects first thing in the morning as, at least for me, it’s a quieter time of a day with fewer interruptions.
Update your to-do list daily/hourly/constantly: Some articles suggest we keep our daily to-do lists short as we often think we can accomplish more than is possible, and when we don’t accomplish all 37 items on our list, we create stress for ourselves. I keep two to-do lists to aid my memory. The first one is a summary list of my projects and the second one is my pen to paper to-do list that includes every minute task. This second to-do list has become my lifesaver because I don’t have to try and remember everything – it is already written down. I simply review and update this list throughout the day to keep myself on track. And most importantly, I organize and review tomorrow’s to-do list at the end of each day to highlight – literally – the must-do projects for the next day so I can hit the ground (desk?) running.
Slow down and divide projects into smaller tasks: Many people suggest breaking big projects into smaller tasks so they appear more manageable, and then slow down – yes PR pros, slow down – and take the time needed to create quality work. A project feels less stressful if we give ourselves time to do it instead of feeling the need to rush through the work. And by breaking down the bigger projects in to smaller jobs, we might be less likely to procrastinate what once felt like an overwhelming project.
Delegate and ask for help: It can seem as though asking someone for help and providing the instructions for the task can take longer than just doing it yourself. But it’s important for our reputation and sanity to ask for help instead of missing deadlines or working 13-hour days, seven days a week. For many of us, it’s hard to let go but we must recognize tasks that can and should be handled by someone else. Delegating often frees us to get other work done on time. Provide clear instructions and deadlines, and trust your team can produce great work.
Step away to get work done: Whether this means closing your email, shutting your office door or disappearing into a meeting room – this is a must. Email, phone calls and office interruptions are continual distractions from our to-do list. One of my favorite ways to take control of my day is to escape and not allow outside forces to distract or dictate my workflow. Though it seems almost impossible to shut off email, I’ve found there is rarely an issue that can’t wait a half hour – just be sure someone can find or contact you in case of a true client crisis!
Go on a walk: Yes, PR pros – get away from the office completely! I often go on a three-mile walk with my co-workers over lunch. Stepping away from the office and getting exercise provides perspective and clears the head.
What tips have you read and tried to help improve your daily productivity? Believe me – I’m always looking for more!