Hanna Knowles

Creating a Campaign for Maximum Productivity

By: Hanna Knowles | July 19, 2016 | 
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Creating A Campaign For Maximum Productivity

In the public relations world, daily task lists can feel comparable to water blasting at you uncontrollably from a fire hose.

Achieving maximum productivity becomes an elusive goal, quickly draining away with distractions and interruptions.

What if I told you you have the ability to take control and end your day with a fist pump, rather than a dejected slump?

Achieving maximum productivity is about properly executed time management.

This allows you to contribute to a meaningful and balanced purpose.

Instead of getting lost in a sea of “time management hacks,” I suggest turning to our tried and true public relations process—research, planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Productivity Tip No. 1: Research

Don’t skip this step!

The appeal of planning is tempting, but do your homework.

An initial time investment is required to improve your ability to do meaningful work.

Ask yourself:

  • What are your daily constraints?
  • Do you work alone or with a team?
  • What is your current vs. ideal work environment?
  • When are you most alert and creative?
  • What causes distractions?
  • How does technology interrupt your flow?
  • How much time do certain tasks require?

Productivity Tip No. 2: Planning

Set Goals and Objectives

Just like a full-blown PR campaign, you must set goals and specific, measurable objectives.

For example:

Goal: Achieve maximum productivity to focus on projects that benefit my employer and my personal development.

Objective: Starting immediately, work on a high-value organizational project by 10 a.m. each day, enabling full use of my skill set and cutting completion time in half.

Create Your Environment

How can you change your environment to enable focused work?

If you answered these research questions openly and honestly, you likely realized your personal trends and preferences.

For instance, if you discovered you are most efficient at a certain time of day, don’t schedule a meeting during that time.

Another quick tip is to relentlessly eliminate distractions.

I monitor my own habits with RescueTime.

This tool is a great visualization of my internet usage and keeps me on track.

Mindset Matters

Take care of your mental capacity.

Having the latest productivity tool will get you nowhere if you are sleep-deprived and hyper-stressed.

I am religious about getting into bed by 9:30 p.m. and getting my heart rate up at 6 a.m. the next day.

This routine gives me energy and the ability to focus.

Productivity Tip No. 3: Implementation

The number of time management tips and tools is overwhelming.

Armed with your situational analysis, you are well equipped to select appropriate strategies and tactics.

Strategy

Apply a project management mindset and contextualize your to-do list.

Brian Tracy’s concept of “eating frogs” works best for me.

The name is attributed to Mark Twain, who once said if you eat a live frog each day for breakfast, nothing worse can happen that day.

By tackling the hardest or least desirable task first, I’ve earned my fist pump by noon!

I supplement eating frogs with the A-B-C-D-E prioritization method to ensure I focus early on high-value tasks.

Stephen Covey’s four quadrants of prioritization, and David Allen’s, Getting Things Done, are also great approaches to thinking holistically.

Both provide techniques to consider the big picture before selecting daily tasks.

Remember, your time is valuable and you have a unique skillset.

Find the strategy that enables you to make a real difference with your work.

Tactics, Techniques, and Tools

Only now can you start playing around with shiny apps.

If you jump ahead to this step, you’ll likely find you’ve made a bad choice and will have to try a new approach.

Talk about a time suck.

I’m old school and love my paper planner and hand-written to-do list, but some digital options frequently referenced on Spin Sucks, include Slack and Evernote.

When choosing a tool, consider what requirements it must meet.

Is the tool for individual or team use?

Do you prefer paper or digital?

Could it cost more time than it saves?

Productivity Tip No. 4: Evaluation

If you’re not meeting your goals and objectives, drop whatever you’re using like it’s hot!

Up until recently I was using Asana to keep track of projects, but found I was spending more time updating it than using it to progress through projects.

Now I’m playing around with OneNote.

Not at all shiny, but it’s working.

Establish Habits

Don’t expect change overnight.

Establishing a new habit takes time and will likely require trial and error.

Your number of trials will decrease significantly if you do your initial research.

Being productive is not about getting more done in a finite number of hours.

It’s about managing our time in a manner that allows us to make a measurable difference for more productive organizations and lives.

What maximum productivity techniques do you implement?

Have your methods evolved?

image credit: pixabay

About Hanna Knowles


Hanna is a Marketing Communications Coordinator at The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Health and School of Kinesiology. She is focused on finding the intersection of creativity and strategy to develop effective communications plans. Her mission is to shine the spotlight on those who accomplish good in this world. When not sharing the stories of faculty and student successes, you can find her running, biking, swimming, reading or writing.

  • I love, love, love this! “I am religious about getting into bed by 9:30 p.m. and getting my heart rate up at 6 a.m. the next day.

    This routine gives me energy and the ability to focus.”

    There is SUCH a strong connection between fitness/exercise and a productive work process.

    Case in point. Yesterday, I swore I needed sleep. So I skipped my 6 a.m. class – I spent the rest of the day scattered without the ability to focus. And I was a real treat to be around, too!

    Great tips and great post!

    • Thanks, Samantha! Its so true. If that routine gets out of wack, I have to really dig deep to do meaningful work. We can try as hard as we want to grind away but if we can’t create a positive/clear mental space, we end up limiting our own abilities.

  • Corina Manea

    This is such a great post, Hanna.

    The funny thing is we use them on a daily basis for our clients, yet, when it comes to us, we forget about these steps.

    I’m best friends with implementation. We need the whole process, but without actually putting things in practice we won’t get anywhere.

    That said, I work based on my energy levels. In the morning, I am super focused, full of energy and creative. I use this time to work on projects that involve creative thinking. And leave the “automatic” tasks for later in the day.

    And every time, the morning always slips away. I want longer mornings 🙂

    • Thank you, Corina!

      Agreed – I tend to get stuck in the research step, following rabbits down multiple holes. At some point, enough is enough and you just have to move. This actually came into play for this post. There are SO many time management articles, I wanted to read them all. Ironically, that would’ve been a big time suck and not added significant value.

      I love the approach of tuning into our energy levels. I’m also more focused in the morning, so I’ve been really cognizant of setting a priority project to tackle first thing. And I agree, I want these projects to last all day! I sometimes have to pull myself out of the zone to get those necessary tasks out of the way.

      • Corina Manea

        Right? Me too. I have to have a timer set up, otherwise I could be all day immersed in these projects.

        • That is a good idea! I read a lot about timing techniques – 15 minute timers, 90 minute timers, etc. Perhaps I’ll give it a try.

  • Laura Petrolino

    LOOOVE this Hannah! I’m totally trying out RescueTime now as well.

    I agree routine and finding what works best for you is so important, for example. I wake up at 5, eat and work until I go to work out around 7:45-8ish. Those two-three hours first thing in the morning are SOOOO important for my productivity, I get so much done in that quiet time prior to clients getting online and my email, phone, slack, skype, text, google, Facebook, Twitter (name your communication channel) exploding. I honestly think if I lost those three hours (while only a small percentage of my workday) I’d never accomplish anything.

    I try to schedule as few meetings as possible before noon-1pm, since that is my most productive time.

    I also know that there are certain tasks (like strategy development or writing) I can’t accomplish during the busy part of my day…it’s impossible and will take me forever due to the endless distractions. So I save those tasks for quiet times (morning, Fridays, weekends) when I can get them done so much quicker because I have solitary time to focus.

    Definitely will be using some of your times to re-evaluate some things in the upcoming weeks

    • Laura Petrolino

      Hanna!!! Sorry, didn’t catch the extra H!!!

      • Thank you! I’m glad you found them helpful. I’d love to hear what you learn.

        You’re routine sounds spot on. Working in an 8 a.m.-5 p.m. setting makes it difficult to arrange my day that way, but that is what I would prefer. So, instead of crying about something I can’t change right now, I try to be super diligent about protecting my 8-10/11ish zone.

        And no worries about the “h!” You’re definitely not the first!

  • I have a client (doing an e-newsletter for their folks) who says staffers complain incessantly about too many emails. I feel this e-rag just adds to the glut. The content is compelling enough – but not do or die in my opinion, especially when leadership is saying to focus on the priorities that drive the business. The newsletter basically is in support of that message, with tools to help. But still…. Any thoughts? Suggestions for truly driving readership?

  • This is WONDERFUL for me, because I’ve been struggling with how to juggle all my tasks and appointments and be productive yet still have time for fun and relaxation. The research step tips really will help me! Thanks so much! No wonder I’m a huge fan of Spin Sucks!

    • Yay! Kathy, I am so glad you found this to be helpful. Research and reflection is really key to figuring what to implement or what to ignore entirely.

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