At the start of my internship in the wonderful world of pr, one of the first things I learned about was billing time. Essentially, time is broken into .25 increments and you must record each day who and what you are working on in order to bill clients. Although initially annoying, I have learned to love the idea of billing time because it forces you to be responsible for every moment of your day and to use your time wisely. Now of course there is never enough time in the day (especially in the pr world) so I thought an appropriate topic for my second intern insight would be… time management.
At Dix & Eaton, interns are treated as employees. Therefore I do not sit around and make coffee all day, but rather I am treated as an Assistant Account Executiveand have real, billable work for a number of clients. I learned very quickly that I will always be busy and need to prioritze and therefore I learned some pretty good tips and have gotten some great advice to help manage my time. Here a few of my favorite pieces of advice:
Triage your work. In pr, there are always stories to be pitched, media lists to create, follow-up calls to be made- the list goes on. The trick I have found to organizing what to do when is to organize by urgency and immediate importance. An event for a client in a week that has no press coverage of course must be completed ASAP, while the media list for outreach you are just beginning can probably wait. It is not always that simple to gauge the importance of projects compared to one another, but you can always ask the advice of your collegues and when someone says something is urgent, by asking more questions you can find out how truly “urgent” it really is.
Block off time in your schedule. Is there something on your to-do list that you never seem to be able to check off? A colleague of mine suggested that for times such as this a good option is to block off time in your calendar dedicated solely to whichever task it is that you are hoping to accomplish. By scheduling time into your calendar people won’t think you are free and you will have a better chance at avoiding interruptions. It will also help you mentally plan to complete that task when you see it planned into your schedule. Along those same lines, in order to not forget something you can plan a reminder into your schedule as well. I have found this especially helpful for completing follow-up calls when pitching numerous clients. When you see on your calendar that you must contact Joe Smith at 3 p.m., you will be much less likely to forget to make the call.
Finally, when overwhelmed…simply take a break. In a world where every 15 minutes matters, it can be hard to justify taking a break to relax and refocus. But that mental rest is probably just what you need to re-assess and be more productive when you are feeling like your work is controlling you. Trying to work through it rarely works and means you are probably less focused and completing work that is not up to your best standards. My favorite way to take a break is a Starbucks run (since there is one conveniently located in the lobby of my building), but even a walk around the office can do wonders for your sanity.
Of course, there are many more tips to managing you time, but these are a few that I have found especially helpful and think can add sanity and productivity to anyone’s job/life.