I will begin with some provocation – when working in an agency, it is possible to go home at 6 p.m. Even at 5 p.m. And not to start a second shift with the evening news.
Everything comes back to the priorities. When the joy of playing foosball or a free cup of coffee for us – the young generation (I’m not sure if I still belong there, but let’s be it) – is replaced by the joy… of having a free evening. To not get tired or burned out so that the next day you could come up with THAT brilliant idea that your client needs.
Of course, this goodness will not come by itself – you will have to plan your work, define your priorities and manage the expectations. If this interests you, don’t close this text.
Every new assistant or project manager who joins INK receives two things – the newbie passport with six tasks and sooner or later experiences my influence to start using Trello app. It is one of the ways that allows to make the uneasy (but very interesting!) project manager’s job possible.
A few colleagues who have taken a look at my computer screen said that it seems like I was playing Solitaire (since I’m always dragging different cards in a green background). In fact, this is how I manage my Trello account, which lists all the tasks that need to be done, their terms, and other important notes that should not be lost on the agenda.
Why it is needed? If I want to have a clear mind without any thoughts like “how to remember this? Did I receive an answer about X?”, I have to write down all my tasks. This allows to concentrate on the current task, problem or brainstorming, without thinking about the other twenty-three tasks I need to remember.
The essential rule of this advice is to understand when it is needed to bend over backwards and when not to do this with every single task. Otherwise, all your abilities or ideas that are so needed for the clients will be asking for help like this girl.
The project manager must be that person who sees the situation with a cold and rational look and helps the client to meet their needs. A comment for the media – an urgent task that needs to be done immediately. A press release on performance development is an important task, however, not as crucial that you or the client should go crazy about. Being aware of the PR world, a project manager should know (and educate the client), what is a burning task is and what can actually be calmly planned and executed even after a week.
Why it is needed? The abilities to work with burned out head and eyes are limited. You need to manage a huge amount of stress, concentrate to the maximum, detach yourself from other awaiting tasks and problems. If you continue to live on such a rhythm, you will burn out and will keep the client in an unhealthy tension as it will always seem to him that everything that you need to do is burning and urgent. And it really isn’t.
For almost two years as I’m working in INK, I follow one rule – don’t look at any task with a thought “this will be fine, I’ll get away with it”. A good project manager should always, if it is possible, strive for the maximum. However, it is important to remember that you are not a magician and there are things that simply cannot be done – and this should be openly communicated to the client.
“The violets in January” is a term that comes to mind once I see that I will not do what the client is asking me to. No matter how much I want the project to succeed, there simply exists possibilities, their limits and their final limits. Of course, it does not mean that that’s it – you give up, pity yourself, pity the project and move on to another project. No. You have to honestly tell the client why a particular task that “needed to be done yesterday” will not be accomplished and how you will try to finish it as soon as possible without compromising on quality. Both parties need to understand the real possibilities and the potential results.
Why it is needed? If you only calmly faint from the task or problem you have received, but you will not communicate to the client how unreal the request is, he/she will think that everything is OK, it is doable and achievable. And then, when it will appear that it is not like that, his/her expectations will painfully fall down. If everything is communicated in a clear manner, it will only be an unpleasant bump in the road.
When the clock shows 4.30 p.m. and your mailbox is filled to infinity and beyond, most of us can start looking like that cute girl who ate too much wasabi. Then you wish to take all the tasks and unrealistically and magically finish everything at once.
However, in such situation, the best solution is to simply raise of your chair, couch or a bean bag and take a step back at least for a short while. Drink a cup of coffee in piece, lie down with your eyes closed or simply go outside and listen to one of your favourite songs. I understand that this tip sounds almost utopian – when there is no time, you want me to rest? Yet in every project, task or problem the most important thing is the ability of you, as a project manager, to manage the situation. And that requires a calm cold mind.
Why it is needed? When it rains with tasks as confetti and you are trying to catch them all at once, the entire plan and the priorities are collapsing. Meanwhile, the quality of work suffers at the same time. That’s why you need to take a breath and consistently plan your tasks. You will not be able to finish everything in a timely manner and in great quality, without any mistakes. After all, as it was written above, there are limits and then there are those final limits.
I do not promise that these tips (or rules, you can call it as you want) will fix your everyday life so that by 6 p.m. all of your projects would be managed. It would go against the peculiarities of PR and I would fail to control your expectations as a reader. However, I believe that with an adequate workload, these tips will help you to spend the evening with a favourite book or an episode of a beloved TV show, and tomorrow start a new day with a joy for what you’re doing.