My mom is the queen of organization. When I was growing up, she always used to leave sticky notes on the kitchen counter as “to-do” reminders. I can still picture her “cut apple” or “make lunch” post-its like it was yesterday. When we’d go to the grocery store, whenever I’d bring something to the cart she’d ask,“Is it on the list?” If it wasn’t, it surely wasn’t coming home with us.
Maybe that was a parenting tactic so trips to the grocery store were productive and cost-efficient, but “stick to the list” will forever be ingrained in my head.
I think it’s safe to say that my mom has taught me a thing or two about keeping organized – and it all starts with making lists.
PR is a fast-paced job. Simultaneously working with 5-8 clients at a time, publicists need to wear many hats and be prepared to abruptly switch from task to task and client to client at a moment’s notice. It’s so easy to say you’ll do one thing and then get thrown into something urgent two minutes later.
Keeping an organized (and flexible) to-do list is not only imperative for time management and to ensure all tasks are completed for you but also to help delegate tasks and know what tasks you can handle to keep the whole team running smoothly.
I have *perfected* my to-do list process; here are some of my best practices:
Make Your To-Do List on Friday
Make your to-do lists at the end of each week so you can go into a new week knowing where you’re at and what’s upcoming. Logging in on Monday morning with no direction for what to do first is a stressful and unproductive way to start the week. Pair it with 50 unread emails from the weekend, and there’s no way to know what to do first. A prepared to-do list on Friday makes for no scaries on Sunday.
Hyperlinks have become my new best friend. Utilizing hyperlinks is a clean and simple way to keep your list organized and save a ton of time. This is really helpful when you need to reference documents for something like writing a pitch. Say you’re writing a pitch for a consumer survey and need to quickly pull up the press release and survey data – link them into the task on your list so everything you need is in one place.
Cross Things Off
Crossing tasks off your list is just so satisfying. It’s the best way to keep your list organized for the day, and it’s so helpful as you look at the rest of your week’s to-dos. In a career like PR where there’s always more to do, a quick look at what needs to move to the next day is quite the time-saver. There’s nothing wrong with adding tasks – even if you’ve already completed them, it’s helpful to know what was done and when and makes time tracking a breeze.
Don’t Stack Your Friday Schedule
When making your to-do list, it’s important to know that nothing is ever set in stone. It’s inevitable that you’ll have client emergencies or quick turnaround newsjacking opportunities that take precedence over other items throughout the week, and you’ll need to push some things to the next day(s). And, of course, weekly client calls always come with more actionable items to add to the list. Stack your Monday-Wednesday (but keep daily meetings in mind) so you can redelegate some tasks without having to push them to the next week.
I just thought of something to add to my to-do list: thank my mom for teaching me how to stay organized and attentive to details, essential in the PR profession!