“Time is the most valuable asset you don’t own. You may or may not realise it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you.”
- Entrepreneur, media personality and investor Mark Cuban
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that when push comes to shove (thanks, COVID), we are entirely capable of finding new ways to manage our time, communicate with colleagues and loved ones, and fill our days.
Whether we spent lockdown tinkering with sour dough recipes, binge-watching Tiger King or working harder than ever, we all had to implement new ways to keep in touch, run our businesses and manage our lives. Happily, you don’t need to be a billionaire to value your time or to prioritise putting your time to good use.
“The shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.”
- Composer and musician, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
In PR it’s often necessary to juggle numerous tasks at once: on any given day, we might find ourselves following up with a journalist, scheduling and rescheduling an interview based on the changing availability of the participants, selecting and sending images, building or implementing a PR strategy, writing a press release or opinion piece or spotting a headline that could open up a great opportunity for a client.
If this sounds as busy and varied as your typical day, you might find the following tips and ideas helpful to implement, which we have collated from our team.
When NSPR director Niki Schuck needs to concentrate, she will often shut down her emails, so she is not distracted by seeing them pop up while she’s working on something else. She turns on her ‘out of office’ to advise that she is unavailable until a specified time, encouraging clients and team members to call or text if there is anything urgent.
“It’s better to travel well than to arrive”
The NSPR team has always worked from home since we began in 2008, so we’re well practised at working remotely whenever possible. Holding meetings by phone, Microsoft Teams or Zoom has become even more acceptable since the arrival of COVID, but sometimes a face-to-face meeting is the best or only option.
When travel around the city is required, the NSPR team is big on taking public transport, and not just for the Earth-friendly benefits. We all love to take advantage of any travel downtime to work on our laptops or catch up on phone calls, while our other director, Kate Barron, is a big fan of listening to podcasts that she thinks will assist her, the business or clients.
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they pass.”
- Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
A looming deadline can be an intimidating prospect but taking a bite-sized approach can make it seem less intimidating. NSPR’s Robyn Brugh is a fan of the pomodoro method, which is named for the tomato-shaped kitchen timer its creator used to divide his workload into twenty-five-minute chunks, each followed by a five-minute break, repeated as many times as necessary to complete a task.
Team member Rebecca Reid likes to set aside specific days each week on which she doesn’t open her emails until 9.30 am, using the first couple of hours of those days to address issues on her “To do list” that require focus or have a deadline approaching.
“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
- Roman poet, Ovid
On some days getting something done workwise is a major priority but it’s also easy to get swept up in the perceived ‘importance’ of our work, allowing it to spill over into those hours of the day that we had intended to dedicate to personal health and wellbeing. But chiselling out time in each day for our own happiness and welfare is integral to ensuring that we are mentally and physically able to deliver on our professional commitments.
‘Move your body, shift your mind’ is a useful way of looking at the need to prioritise our wellbeing – for self-confessed NSPR gym addict Jessica Griffin, it means scheduling her exercise for early in the morning. This ensures that any unexpected detours that crop up during her workday don’t have the opportunity to derail her exercise plans.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
- Writer, poet, academic and creator of worlds, J.R.R. Tolkien
NSPR’s Tanisha Chang says COVID served to remind her that time is one of our greatest assets, not only professionally but also personally. It’s so easy to get caught up moving onto the next project, next week, next big event, but Tanisha has learned to prioritise checking in with her family and friends, rather than living as though we have all the time in the world and assuming that we’ll get to what’s actually important later.
It’s a concept that Kate agrees with – she and Niki as directors of NSPR strongly believe that shutting down at the end of the day is important to mark the move into family/social time. In fact, they’ve even implemented a company policy that team members do not send emails or text before 7am or after 7pm unless it is urgent and then a phone call is the form of communication.
“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”
- Writer, humorist, traveller and lecturer, Mark Twain
What improvements or enhancements are you willing to consider, to streamline your day and maximise your time? Think about what’s important to you, write down what you would like your workday to look like, and then decide how best to achieve this. Keep in mind that it takes time to break down old habits and form new ones, so try choosing one or two of each to begin with and be kind to yourself while you settle into them.
“Time is on my side, yes it is.”
- Rolling Stone, Mick Jagger