Finding yourself pulled in a million different directions every day? Do you sit down every morning with a task list and somehow by the end of the day it’s only gotten longer? Let’s talk about some simple ways to cut down on lost time and increase productivity at work.

Templates, lists and calendars

The thing about productivity is that it’s not about how hard you work, it’s about how smart you work. Instead of spending your time throwing together a social media post at the last minute or pitching to dozens of newsrooms, take care to put processes in place for different recurring tasks to save time and increase efficiency. Here are some common tools most PR and communications professionals employ:

  • Templates: For your pitches, press releases, follow-ups and thank yous, spend your time creating good templates so that when the time comes all it needs is some fine-tuning and personalization.
  • Contact Lists: Don’t absentmindedly send your pitches to the same newsrooms ten times a day—make an effort to get to know different local reporters, keep an updated contact list of who works for what outlet and what they’re interested in, then send your pitches to them directly.
  • Content Calendars: Spend some time creating a digital content calendar directly geared towards your audience, then you can schedule those social posts and relax knowing your audience is getting the right content at the right time.

Taking some basic proactive steps like these helps save a little bit of time in the moment, but will save you hours of work when you think about how often you do these tasks on a daily basis. What’s more, it ensures that you’re producing the highest quality of work possible since the hard part is done beforehand and you’re not scrambling at the last minute to throw something together.

Focus on what’s really important

While most PR and communications teams already employ these methods, what most professionals still struggle with is having a million requests and interruptions throughout the day and not getting the time to adequately attend to their own projects. We’re taught from a young age to please people; to say yes to whatever your boss asks of you without question. However, consider if you redirected all the energy you exert on all the different things you do all day, into just one task or project. Would 10 steps in one direction not be a greater contribution to your company than one step in 10 directions? While it is possible to multitask, it is not possible to multi-focus, so are you really providing high quality work if you’re not focused on it?

It’s important for all professionals in all industries to set aside time to think about what’s important and not be interrupted by meetings and requests from other people. If you’re able to, consider how saying ‘no’ to non-essential tasks can greatly increase your productivity and contribution at work. For more on how to determine your highest point of contribution, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone finding themselves stretched too thin: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

Ultimately, productivity is about being organized and disciplined, not about working more. Once things like using templates, updated contact lists, and content calendars become routine, this frees up more time for creative thinking. Once you’ve eliminated extraneous matters, you will be able to focus your energy on what’s truly important.

About the Author

Nicole Alivojvodic is a marketing and communications professional with experience working in both agency and in-house roles. Born and raised in Vancouver, Nicole has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of British Columbia, loves to write, and is especially interested in language, culture and travel.