At some point, we all find ourselves pulled in what feels like a million different directions at work. For me, working at a fast-paced, award-winning health care communications agency means a variety of clients to serve, supervisors to please, and constant deadlines to meet.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and often, just when you think you can breathe, you get tapped for another assignment. How can you manage your time, when it feels like you don’t even have the time to figure it out?
Since starting here at The Reis Group a year ago, I’ve learned a lot from my colleagues. Not only have I absorbed media skills, but I’ve bolstered my time-management abilities as well. I would argue that this skill may be the most vital to our success. We all have competing priorities from a demanding set of clients, and without effective time management, we would not be the top-notch PR agency that we are.
Each of my colleagues has a unique way to manage their time. Who better to learn from than them? Here are the best lessons I’ve learned so far:
Ask for deadlines and prioritize your time. My teammates know that I like to ask for deadlines on all my tasks. Firm due dates help me to develop personal timelines for all my assignments. My various supervisors don’t know that I have X assignment due on Wednesday, so I have to compare due dates and determine how to prioritize my week.
Be flexible and realistic. Deadlines are important, but I must acknowledge when a timeframe may prevent me from delivering my best work. I have certainly been guilty of letting my drive to finish a task affect the quality of my work. Luckily, I have a supportive team who can catch my mistakes, but I need to be sure that I am checking my own work and providing high-quality deliverables that fit our high standards—even if that means taking an extra day.
Expect the unexpected and build in catch-up time. At the beginning of each week, I assess all the assignments I need to complete and take a look at the meetings I have. I build in time to complete and review my deliverables and block off time for assignments I’ve left on the back burner. This blocked time allows me to get ahead where I can and provides useful openings in my schedule to work on any unexpected tasks that arise.
Let others know when an urgent client need arises—and be empathetic when the same happens with your colleagues. Agency work is unpredictable, and it is inevitable that we will receive urgent requests from clients. It’s vital that we communicate with our team members when time-sensitive demands arise. We’re working with a variety of clients who each deserve our full attention, so we must be willing to pitch in to help our colleagues when they suddenly face an unexpected deadline.
If you ever feel you have too much on your plate, try some of these tips to make your work more manageable. Successful time management is an essential piece of The Reis Group’s ability to deliver high-quality service to leading foundations, medical societies, associations, health systems, federal agencies, coalitions and universities . The lessons I’ve learned from my colleagues have helped me grow as a communications professional and as a productive team member.