The importance of personal productivity…

The world in which we work is changing.  We’re bombarded with more information than ever before through more media channels and devices than ever before – and researchers don’t see any slow down.  This new world of work has implications for our professional and personal lives, and it will also have a major impact on the practice of Public Relations. 

To be effective communicators we must understand how people are coping with the increasing volumes of information being thrown at them wherever they go.  One of the major reasons for the lack of understanding of how the online world will ultimately impact PR is that we don’t have a good enough insight into these issues.  We have to do a better job of researching and listening to our audience.

Of course the new world of work also has a profound impact on the life of the PR practitioner.  A profession that deals in the currency of knowledge, that by its nature is “always-on”, is at the coal face of the new world of work.  So how well are you dealing with the pressure?

As I mentioned before I’m more concerned with getting my first life under control before I start worrying about my second life.

The 1950s comic book vision of the 21st century where robots do all the work and we sit around thinking of ways to pass the time has failed to transpire.  Instead, we`re commuting longer distances, struggling to come to terms with the increasing volume and variety of information, and in most cases, failing to address the real problem of work-life balance.  The bad news is that this problem isn’t getting any easier.

I increasingly find myself talking with people who are really struggling to cope with the changing demands of the new world of work.  They are stressed out. 

The fact is we are not doing enough to help ourselves – this is something that’s impacting our audiences – and therefore impacting the practice of public relations – but it also impacts our personal and work lives.

If you`re not thinking about these issues you should be.   In fact you should be taking action to help yourself.

So what about personal productivity?

Some of you may already have tried and tested systems and processes for your daily working life.  If you do, congratulations but I suspect you’re in the minority.

As a profession that is probably dealing with more information, interruptions and variety than any other, we all need to get smarter about work (and play).

The good news for those still operating the “wing and a prayer” organization system is that there’s loads of help and advice out there.  You just have to stop for a moment and look for it.

Without question, the most talked about personal productivity systems online is David Allen`s “Getting Things Done”  or GTD which is widely supported on web sites across the Interweb. Allen provides a methodology for handling everything you have deal with in your work and personal life. His process is neatly summed up in the GTD work flow chart and you can find a vast array of resources online.  For those Outlook users there`s a GTD plug-in and if you want to use Outlook as the centre of your working day Sally McGhee has a similar system specifically for the Microsoft PIM.

There are other well established systems such as Franklin Covey which are also well worth looking at.

If nothing else these systems can help you to put in place effective systems for handling the deluge of information you’re faced with on a daily basis and hopefully give you the tools to look at the bigger picture rather than keeping your head down on the treadmill all day.

Invest some time in yourself.

While it’s true technology has enabled the explosion of information, it also provides fantastic capabilities to help tame it.  But how well as we using it? Are we putting in place acceptable usage policies that respect work and personal balance?

Most of us use tools in the way we always have.  But how well do you know the features you`re not using?  We’re not taking full advantage of features that aid productivity that are already on our computers and (Smart) phones. Spending some time better understanding how you can make better use of what you have would be another wise investment.

Then there are new tools from RSS readers to collaboration tools.  These can have a major positive impact on our personal and team productivity.

For example, I`m staggered at how many PR people still aren`t using RSS even though practically every major news organizations is now publishing breaking news and content on RSS (even Ireland`s major media organizations for the love of Jebus) not to mention blogs, Wikis and forums. RSS can save hours of time and it`s free.

The subject of personal productivity is far too big to solve here but you need to start thinking about it.  Investing some time will not only make you more productivity but might give you some insight into how the modern work place is impacting your audience.

Open your web browser and do some research.

Start by stopping
Stop rushing, stop and think about what`s important to you.  Start by thinking about what you want from life.  This isn`t a rehearsal, this is it.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you clear about your personal and professional priorities?
  • Are you using a system to sort through and manage the growing volume hitting your desk? If not, why not?
  • Are you making the best use of the tools you already have? Including your PC, your PDA, your phone, your pen and notebook?

Some Resources: