Tick, tock, tick, tock… we all know the countdown to a deadline. Whether it’s an internal or an external deadline — we still feel the pressure of time.
Managing your time effectively is essential in any job role, and learning how to prioritise can be a crucial learning curve to the success of your work.
When you work in a PR agency, organisation and planning is fundamental to the way we operate. We know that events are likely to change and we must have the ability to remain flexible and reactive to these changes.
For me, I love a list. I’ll have multiple to-do lists on my desk, sticky notes on my computer and a priority list for each task I’m working on just to make sure I know I’m covering all angles.
However, this can sometimes get messy and doesn’t work for everyone. So, here are some extra tips to keep you on track with your own deadlines!
1. Plan ahead
When you first sit down at your desk, take 15 minutes to think and plan what you need to do. It’s amazing how much difference it can make to your mindset. Figuring out what is and what isn’t essential for that day can allow you to prioritise and make that decision to leave something non-essential to the day after.
It has to be said, it can be easy to get distracted. Whether this is due to social media, chatting to your colleagues or even just going to make a cuppa to put off your task, it happens.
Once you start a task, if something else pops into your head, just try scribbling it down on a post-it until you have the time to really think about it. This will help limit distractions and stop the ‘mix and match’ action between different tasks.
2. Manage expectations
One of the main things you can try and do to stay on track is learn how to mange people’s expectations when someone asks you to do something extra. Remember to stay positive through your answer by saying something like ‘I can help you with that, but not until 1pm’.
This shows you’re still willing to help while ensuring someone won’t be waiting on you before this time. This will allow you to let go of some of your own pressure. It will also encourage you to focus on your own task so you can then also help others faster.
3. Incentivise yourself
An oldie but goldie. Incentivising yourself is a tried and tested tactic.
Why not set yourself a small task of working for 30 minutes, without distraction, and then treat yourself to whatever works for you — a bite of your cookie, a little walk around the office, listening to a bit of motivational music… Keep trying until it becomes a habit!
3. Remember your strengths
When you’re working towards a deadline it can be easy to second-guess your ability to perform under pressure. This means we’re more likely to focus on what we’re not so good at and worry about the way this will impact our work, rather than spending time developing what we are better at and just getting on with things.
Try making a note of all your qualities and just revisit them every now and again to remind you of what you can achieve and focus on the positives to play to your strengths and get things done.
5. Take care of yourself
It sounds super simple, but not enough of us do this! Getting enough sleep and eating and drinking enough during the day will do wonderful things for your mental outlook on approaching your deadlines. Getting plenty of exercise will also change your mental attitude (even in this chilly weather!) as an alert mind is a high-functioning mind and one that’s less likely to wander off to time-wasting activities (queue a gossip about last nights telly).
Not all of these tactics will work for everyone — but that’s the best bit!
You can find out what works for you and stick with it to develop your skills in order to work harder and smarter.