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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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