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Productivity: Myth vs. Reality

Sarah Brandon

Whenever I hear the word “productivity” in the workplace, I can’t help but picture a robot in business casual—able to be in multiple places at once, ticking off tasks at lightning speed on a perfectly organized to-do list, never needing to stop to eat or sleep.

Not only does this myth ignore the fact that humans are much better at PR than machines, it’s based on a misconception about what it really means to be productive. By most definitions, being productive is about maximizing your results-to-effort ratio—in other words, the most productive people, especially in a field like public relations, are simply very good at getting a lot done without overworking themselves.

Because we all love lists, below are my top 4 favorite tricks for putting the "PR" in productivity (get it?):

1. Customize Your To-Do List

Being productive is all about little fixes We all organize our thoughts differently, so why should our to-do lists all look the same? PR can often involve juggling a lot of things at once, so I like to break my tasks down into their various parts-- that way, if I have to stop in the middle of something, I won't have to struggle to remember where I was when it get back.

SJB Notes

2. Be Flexible

Being organized is great, but if you can't stay calm and deviate from the course when something unexpected arises, you're ultimately less likely to be productive in the long run. Last minute and urgent work -- whether it's a surprise opportunity for a client or a PR crisis -- is all part of the job. It's good to have a mindset that allows you to take care of these new projects as they come; you'll be more emotionally and mentally ready to tackle the rest of your list later if you don't waste energy worrying that it got thrown off.

3. Love Your Daily Commute

This one may come as a bit of a surprise, but bear with me. I like catching up on news in the morning and reading a book or listening to podcasts on my way home, but whatever you do gives you a valuable chance to ease into or out of your work day. Being productive isn't about getting things done at all times; it's equally important to take advantage of life's little breaks so you can refocus when it matters-- even if that means blasting Beyonce on the train to shake what my roommate calls "end of day brain."

4. See the Big Picture in Small Tasks

Christine Pietryla, Walker Sands’ SVP, gave me some of my favorite advice on being productive: no task is just busy work, it always contributes to a meaningful goal, whether it’s for your client, your career or yourself. Identifying that goal can be very motivating. This is especially useful advice when you start to feel as though you’re putting a lot of energy into something and getting very little out; in other words, being the opposite of productive.

Any other tips you have for PRoductivity? Share them with me @scared_sar.