June 26, 2014

Time management from an AE’s perspective

by admin in News

It has been a busy couple of months here at Red Agency. With countless events to organise, several new projects to launch and a bunch of new teammates joining the fray, you can understand why!

At times like these, being an Account Executive can be stressful, to say the least, with looming deadlines and a constant stream of interruptions, time does have a horrible tendency to slip away from us.

When it comes to time management, to-do lists can be your biggest asset or your arch nemesis. As a compulsive list writer myself, even I have to admit that sometimes there can be nothing more daunting than looking at the mammoth list of tasks you are yet to complete. But having said that, nothing satisfies me more than crossing items off my list.

Whether you love them or hate them they are a necessary tool for PR practitioners and with this in mind I wanted to take a look at the best ways to make sense of your to-do list.

How you order your list is up to you, and yes before you ask there are several different methods you can apply. The stock standard approach is to sort your tasks by priority. Simple and effective, this method allows you to jot down jobs on an as needed basis and gives you a good starting point. The down side is that when small but highly urgent tasks pops-up you struggle to fit them on your to-do list without re-writing the whole thing!

Organising your to-do list by client is a useful and smart way to keep track of your workload, particularly when servicing several large accounts. Simply prioritise each of your tasks then list these under the relevant client name, thus dividing your list into much more manageable chunks. This technique provides a thorough breakdown of what work needs to be done under each client and allows you to prioritise accordingly. What this approach fails to do however is note whether client A’s urgent task is more important than client B’s and this is where some get stuck.

Another option is the email format list, which allows you to use your email system as your one stop shop. The basic principle is that you flag each task as a ‘to-do’ action the moment you receive it, set yourself reminders to complete each item and then pre-block out the time in your diary to do so. There are a few problems with this method as not every task you receive is via email and sometimes other jobs will have to override the time you blocked out in your diary.

Overall a combination of these techniques is the best approach. I personally break my to-do list down by client at the start of each week and refer back to this when writing a daily task list each morning.  I also pre-block time out in my diary for more time consuming tasks and have made it a habit to never file away an email until I have responded.

Whichever method you subscribe to, here are three tips guaranteed to make your life easier:

  • If a task involves several actions to complete then list them all. It may take time to draft a pitch but it takes even more time to send that pitch on, follow up with the person you sent it to and then respond to their feedback.
  • Save all attachments in the correct client folder. This way the rest of your team can access them and you don’t have to waste time sifting through your emails.
  • Return all phone calls and emails within two hours. Even if you don’t yet have answers or are waiting on something else you should make a point of responding so that people know you received their message.

By Holly Frendo.