If you are anything like me then life is hectic. I wake up at the crack of dawn, take a shower, take care of the dogs, cats and guinea pig, get the kids fed, ready for school and out the door -- all by 8:30 a.m.
In between, I am responding to emails, checking various social media channels and looking for relevant information to post on clients’ various social media sites. More days than not I ask myself “Have I done everything I am supposed to?”
As a public relations practitioner with a stable of clients, it would be easy to become overwhelmed. And, when I started my own PR firm nearly two years ago I was. But that was before I started using a to-do list.
Success expert Brian Tracy wrote: “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent return on energy!” I couldn’t agree more.
While there are many apps on the market designed to help you stay organized, for me a to-do list is nothing more than a word document with a list of my clients, all of the tasks I need to complete and by what date, or in some cases, by what time that day. My list, coupled with my Google calendar, has become one of the most important tools in my toolbox.
While this may seem like a no-brainer, I am constantly amazed at how many people go through life bouncing from one task to another, continually missing deadlines and clogging up the process.
When I was a reporter, I would watch my fellow journalists waste time doing things that didn’t need to be done, only to see them in a panic when it came time for a story to be turned in. Had they prioritized by creating a to-do list, I am certain they would have lived a much less stress-induced existence.
Taking five minutes out of my morning to look at my to-do list to see what’s ahead actually helps to calm my nerves and gives me perspective. It also helps me to remain organized so that I don’t (as I have had a tendency to do) jump from one project to the next without actually completing one task until I run up against a tight deadline. If something unexpected pops up during the day I make sure I add it to my list right then and there and, if needed, reprioritize.
My to-do list also serves as a memory aid because when I see something in writing I tend to remember it better. And, it’s a great motivator: Each day as I check off my completed tasks I feel a sense of accomplishment.
If you haven’t created a to-do list, give it a try. You may even find yourself with a little extra time at the end of the day and fewer gray hairs.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She has written for local, state and national publications. Her clients include attorneys, non-profit organizations and healthcare professionals.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.