Public relations is a fast-paced industry. I had a taste of it over the summer while I interned at Pinkston Group, a strategic communications firm outside D.C. Some days during that internship, it seemed like the tasks piled up all at once and I had to decide which ones to complete first.
Surprisingly, I didn’t find this challenging because college prepared me for dealing with a busy schedule. At JMU, my classes are like my clients. Some days the assignments pile up and I need to decide how to use my time to get them all done. To keep myself on track, I utilize many different strategies and tools.
Prioritize In any world of strict deadlines, prioritizing is key. The bottom line is that you can’t do everything at once, no matter how good you think you are at multitasking. This means some things have to come first, but how do you choose?
I always think of it in terms of weight. Some tasks are heavier than others based on a number of criteria. To decide the weight of a task, I ask myself, “what is the deadline?” and “how much effort will it take to complete it?” If the deadline is sooner and it’s going to take a lot of effort, then that task is pretty heavy and gets moved to the top of my list. If a task is not due for a while and it takes minimal effort, then it pretty light will get moved to the bottom of my list and addressed later.
One week last semester, I was in charge of posting to Bluestone Communications’ Facebook account every day while we figured out how to use a social media management platform. However, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, I’m running between classes and meetings. There was no way I would have remembered to make those posts without some kind of reminder
. Enter the iPhone Reminders app. It allows you to schedule notifications that send reminders to your phone at a set date and time. A survey done by Deloitte in 2016 says that we check our phones 47 times a day. That’s 47 opportunities to remind myself of that Facebook post I need to make for Bluestone, that meeting I need to attend or that quiz I need to take.
Another tip I picked up came from my internship at Pinkston. Many of my co-workers carried around a notebook where they scribble notes and reminders. It’s a simple concept but has a big impact. In a meeting, it’s hard to remember every detail so I found it useful to have one book that I carry around all the time to keep notes and reminders.
Get Organized and Plan Ahead
For my business communication class, my professor asked each of us to draw a symbol that we felt represented us. I drew the Expo marker tip icon because I’m a visual person and I love dry erase boards. Currently, I have four of them in my room and they all serve separate purposes.
The one I use the most, however, is an enormous wall decal of a calendar. It has a dry erase surface so at the end of every month, I can update it to plot out the next month. I even color code items, such as meetings, class assignments or JMU events. This gigantic calendar is the center piece to my room. It helps me plan ahead (and prioritize) because then I can see what’s coming up. For example, if I see that I have a law exam in a week, then I know to start studying now.
Turning chaos into organized chaos is just one of the many skills I’ve acquired at college. I can’t wait to utilize these skills after graduation while also picking up new ones along the way!