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Tips for switching off in PR

Tips for switching off in PR

My learned friend Stephen Waddington recently posted an article from Forbes on the most stressful jobs. PR ranked sixth. This, in my humble opinion, is nonsense.

As Wadds goes on to discuss in his excellent article in The Drum, a primary catalyst to stress in PR is our inability to manage our time and switch off.

I had this issue when I first started out in this intoxicating and addictive industry. I got myself into a poor state of affairs, where my days became longer, my productivity became less and my spirits were at an all time low.

I decided this needed changing and absorbed as much literature and attended as many seminars on time management as I could handle.

Rather than suggest you do the same, I thought I’d distil that reading and learning into a few top tips that should improve your ability to switch off.

1 Write a proper to do list:Most people don’t know how to write a proper to do list. They tend to be a messy bunch of actions with no real info. A good structure to jotting down your to do list is as follows:

ACTION (with detail) — TIME IT WILL TAKE — DATE AND TIME YOU WILL COMPLETE IT — DEADLINE

For example: Draft byline for RandomClient on Random Topic — 2.5hrs — 28th Jan AM— 4th Feb

I always suggest that a to do list needs to be electronic so you have constant access to it and it’s easily changeable (I use evernote) however some people have a real issue with this transition. It’s up to you, but ensure your to do list is editable — get a pencil and an eraser!

2 Use your calendar: Once you have an action on your to do list, at the next available opportunity, transfer that action into your calendar (Outlook or equivalent). By doing this you start populating your days and can have a very clear understanding about what you can realistically achieve

3 Negotiate actions: The word ‘yes’ is a PR person’s most valuable word. Use it wisely. Irrespective of whether it’s your manager or a client, always look to take the time to check your calendar before you agree to an action. If it’s unrealistic you’re going to fit it in, then negotiate the deadline of either the new action or the old action. Don’t just say yes.

4 Breakdown big tasks: It makes no sense to have one action that says: PR strategy. It’s too big an action to be feasible. Breakdown these huge actions into bite-size manageable chunks. Enter them on your to do list, calendar them and see that large action get chipped away

5 Email is not king: Anyone who says your email should always be on is talking rubbish. If your client has found a dead body in their closet and needs help, they’ll call. If your manager needs you, they’ll shout or throw something at you. Use your out of office wisely to set expectations and switch off that sodding email to get shit done!

6 Manage your inbox: Setting rules on your email inbox is super useful. List your inbox by priority rather than date and set rules up to prioritise email from specific important individuals and get to the crucial stuff first. Use the ‘copy’ rule to ensure you’re not spending time transferring emails into folders

7 Unplug: As mentioned before, by being more efficient and expert with your time, you should be able to become more able to switch off. Turn off the phone, shut the laptop or iPad. Go for a walk. Talk to someone interesting. Read a book. Stare at the wall. Just unplug.

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