7 productivity hacks for PR professionals

Having trouble finding time to complete your work amid all the time wasters and distractions in your office? Meetings, email, chat, robocalls, spam, social media, “pop ins,” software updates, loud cube mates, more meetings . . . they can all keep you from doing your best work.

Below are seven ways to work around the workplace distractions.

1. Set up a work day
Have a project deadline looming? Set up a “work day” with your team by locking yourselves in a conference room for the entire day. Set your calendars to “busy” and order in lunch. Establish goals and assign tasks beforehand so you can focus during your time together.

2. Turn off email
For years, I was in the habit of answering email immediately so I could clear my inbox. But then I realized this was distracting me from work that required focus and concentration. (Like writing and editing.) Now, I keep my email program closed, except during designated “email time”: first thing in the morning, immediately after lunch, and before the end of the day.

3. Say no to meetings or attend only part of the meeting
If you can’t make a meeting, say so. Then offer to follow up later. If your attendance is required, put a time limit on how long you can stay. As William Churchill said in The Crown, “And, if there is one thing I have learned in 52 years of public service, it is that there is no problem so complex, nor crisis so grave, that it cannot be satisfactorily resolved within 20 minutes.”

4. Break down big tasks
Stop waiting for the “perfect” time to complete a big project. That time will likely never come. Instead, break the big project into smaller projects and set goals to complete the smaller projects in between meetings and interruptions. Tell yourself “Today I will complete the outline for my presentation.” “Tomorrow, I will find all my resources.” You’ll be less frustrated and be less likely to procrastinate.

5. Listen to podcasts
Do you need to stay up to date on industry news, but don’t have time to read that stack of trade journals or wade through an inbox full of email newsletters? Try listening to podcasts. For every topic, there’s a podcast. Find one to help keep you informed or to learn about a new topic.

6. Take reading or copyediting tasks with you
Still have a lot of reading to get through? Take it with you and review it during “down” time. For example, my kids have piano lessons every Monday afternoon. While I’m waiting on them, I read an article or proofread one of our publications. I also take publications or work-related books with me when I’m at the hair salon or if I know I’ll have a long wait at the doctor’s office.

7. Spend time on Friday preparing for Monday
Are there any small tasks you can complete on Friday afternoon — when you’re in good mood and feeling efficient — so you don’t have to face them on Monday? It’s tempting to procrastinate and wait until Monday to complete certain tasks, but when Monday morning arrives, you’ll be grateful you took care of it on Friday.

What productivity hacks work for you?

 This post was also published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily

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