How to manage the never ending to-do list
As public relations professionals, we often find ourselves diving into short- and long-term strategic planning for our clients and our own businesses. We plan budgets and projects in advance to accommodate workflow and determine what goals we want to reach.
But to maximize our work, we ourselves need to be tuned into our projects – both day-to-day tasks and long-term assignments. So, what’s the best way to stay organized and complete projects on deadline while still being proactive?
There’s no one right answer because every individual works differently. As for myself, I’ve gone through a variety of processes – anywhere from handwritten lists to electronic spreadsheets. Whatever method you choose to stay organized, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Look at short- versus long-term assignments. You may be tempted to start at the top of your to-do list and work down, but prioritizing should be your first consideration. Work on tasks with the shortest deadlines before you start a project that is due weeks from now. However, for longer assignments, set short deadlines for yourself to benchmark progress and avoid having to complete a huge project in a very short amount of time.
- Work collaboratively. Chances are, other individuals are working on the same accounts as you. Keep a common to-do list so everyone is on the same page – and so you’re held accountable by your team for your responsibilities with the client.
- No to-do list is ever complete. This is a hard lesson to learn, since most of us would love to leave the office on a Friday afternoon with a clear to-do list. Be realistic about what needs to be accomplished before lunch, before you leave for the day, before the end of the week, by the end of the month, etc. and focus on those tasks. If a task can wait until next week, don’t stress about letting it sit over the weekend.
Personal strategic planning is a constantly evolving process and a skill mastered over time. I would love to hear from more seasoned public relations (or any business) professionals on their trials and successes with personal project management.