Spring weather and the fact that the year is a quarter over make it an excellent time to examine what’s working in your daily routine and what needs to be adjusted.
Recently, I analyzed my day and identified five habits that underpin a typically successful day at the office. Whether you are a spokesperson, a CEO, a PR professional (or all of the above), these five habits can help you improve your daily routine and accomplish your business goals.
1. Read. Keeping up with the breakneck speed of news is a crucial activity that is easily pushed aside by more urgent tasks. Reading the newspaper for general news or a trade journal for a particular industry can be postponed repeatedly without immediate consequences, but do it enough and your results will show a lack of preparation. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Great ideas are mined from a wealth of knowledge. Don’t bother to read, and you’ll have a shallow mine.
2. Prioritize. I was reminded at a recent lecture about how easy it is to delay important tasks and focus instead on easy or more enjoyable responsibilities, such as responding to email. If you don’t rank the importance of your to-do list, you’ll end up doing what you find easiest while delaying the consequential stuff. Disorganization and lack of deliberation produce stress and mistakes; prioritizing is the answer.
3. Assess. Assessing what did not get done on your list is just as important as making the list in the first place. Throughout the workday—and especially before heading out for the evening—evaluate your progress. For me, having a clear picture of what needs to get done before the end of the day or week puts my mind at ease; I know there won’t be any unwelcome surprises.
4. Work out. This one may be aspirational. Making time for a daily workout is difficult, especially if you’re married with children and/or have a long commute. But like reading, neglect it and your work will likely suffer. Few things loosen up writer’s block like a rush of endorphins from a good workout. If you can’t exercise every day, do so as much as you can. I promise you’ll notice a difference.
5. Contribute. Look for ways to improve your agency. Admittedly, this does not come as naturally to me as it should. I like seeing my to-do list shrink; it makes me feel productive. However, investing time in a project for the collective good is a fundamental element of teamwork. Whether you launch a companywide fitness contest or share a great pitch, think about how you can help your colleagues do their jobs better. You’ll help yourself in the process.
What would you add to this list? What is your “must-do” daily activity?
This story first ran on Ragan.com in April 2013.