Digital PR (DPR) can be an all-hands-on-deck kind of job, often needing us to wear multiple hats all at once. Things can get overwhelming when your tasks for the day alone feel like a whole week’s worth of work. Being able to save up even just a couple of minutes per task can have a huge positive impact on your stress levels (and, let’s admit it, our sanity).
This is why excellent time management is essential to any digital PR strategist.
Why should you hone this skill?
If you still need some convincing, here are three more reasons why you should sharpen your time management skills:
- It reduces work-related stress and anxiety.
Using time management, you create a plan to tackle what felt like never-ending to-do checklists.
- Things get ticked off one after the other.
A clear action plan also helps us feel more prepared for any situation.
- Good time management makes us look good.
This is because it makes us capable of keeping our cool while meeting deadlines. The management team and your co-workers alike will notice and appreciate your organisation and efficiency.
How do I go about managing my time?
Now that we’ve convinced you that time management is essential to your success and the success of those around you let’s look at some low-effort and actionable steps to making your workload even more manageable and meeting deadlines easy(-er).
- Allocate the time duration of each task
If you work in a fast-paced job such as DPR, chances are that you already plan your day, week or even month with endless lists of to-dos on calendars and notes. This helps you have a clear overview of what is going on.
Take this habit a step further by allocating how much time you need to spend on each task. This helps you to be realistic about what you can accomplish in one day and removes the risk of overpromising and under-delivering.
Remember to account for breaks and unplanned meetings, especially if you work in an open space office where the chances of someone “desk-bombing” you are very real.
- Remove distractions
Regardless of whether you work remotely or in an office, the hustle and bustle around you can make you lose precious time, especially if you are on a tight schedule. Removing distractions isn’t always easy, and there is no one “fits all” solution, but there are some things you can try.
Firstly, move to a quieter space or put focusing music in your headphones to create a sound barrier.
Secondly, turn off your computer notifications for a set period of time (make sure you are still reachable for anything urgent).
Lastly, if you need time and space to focus on regularly, consider blocking out time in your week to power through work that needs your undivided attention.
- Time blocking
Time blocking is the sacred grail of time management as this tactic allows you to minimise interruptions while you work on a given task.
Time blocking is dedicating a specific time period in your week to any recurring task and marking the time needed as busy (blocking out) in your calendar. The best practice is to also silence any unnecessary communications on your laptops to avoid any online communication interruptions. This lets others know you are busy at those set times of the week. Check out Todoist’s extensive guide on time blocking if you are intrigued.
- Ask for support
Sometimes we have too much on our plate but struggle to ask for help. In this situation, remember that suffering in silence benefits neither your well-being nor your co-workers, as deadlines will be missed.
Clear to-do lists with time allocation for each task should help you see which tasks you need to delegate to colleagues with some spare time. If delegating tasks is not an option, letting others know you have a lot going on is the best way to open a discussion. This could result in, for example, extended deadlines, re-prioritisation of tasks or hiring temporary support.
I’m a procrastinator – can I still ace time management?
We all procrastinate a bit in life. Procrastinating is common and can be heightened when the task at hand isn’t the most exciting. If this sounds like you, learning how to manage your time efficiently might help you better manage procrastination.
How? Set deadlines and tell others your commitments.
- Setting deadlines.
Try getting into the habit of giving yourself deadlines for all the tasks that don’t have one and letting others know that you work better when tasks have a clear deadline.
If you are working on a team project, set yourself anticipated deadlines to meet, so if you procrastinate a bit, you won’t impact your coworkers.
- Voice your commitments.
Letting others know of your deadlines and plans, more generally, puts you in a better position to achieve those plans. When you voice your plans to a coworker, they will indirectly keep you accountable for achieving them. Your coworkers won’t be policing you, but suddenly there is someone else who will know if you don’t meet your self-imposed deadline.
Time management is essential for digital PR professionals to reduce stress, meet deadlines and improve efficiency. If I convinced you of the importance of having time management skills, the next step to your career advancement is to give and receive constructive feedback. Start practising these actionable tips today and see the positive impact on your workload and stress levels!