The last year in the communications and media space has been beyond intense and it’s not stopping anytime soon. As part of the shift, media partners at fashion publications, including Vogue, WWD, Refinery29 and more, are now overtly political (they’ve always touched on politics here and there, beyond talking about who’s dressing whom, but this is a whole new level). As PR professionals we have a unique vantage point from which to experience the media; as insiders (like backstage at a fashion show almost every. single. day) and as consumers and experts of that media, witnessing firsthand the crucial role the media has in educating and informing, as well as entertaining with fashion, lifestyle and celebrity stories.
If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling an extra dose of craziness since our jobs require us to pay extra close attention to newspapers, magazines, websites and news shows, while still managing our own digital presence, rocking out those business goals and securing ongoing client placements – all in a world that feels a little bananas.
As part of my personal quest to focus on self-care this year, it has become imperative that I find a way to manage my ‘need to remain in-the-know’ through the incessant flow of information and stay mindful, focused, and present for our clients. I’ve come to realize that no matter how well we do our jobs (one of the most stressful on the planet, or so the surveys always say) no matter how many media hits we secure, if we don’t take care of ourselves, eventually there will be no business or work to tend to.
Here are a few suggestions for you based on what I’m doing that’s working:
Add a timer into the mix
Just because you’re online, don’t get sucked into the rabbit hole (which is the Internet). Identify the priorities on your to do, and then stick to them. Even the good distractions can be total time wasters. And time wasted requires time to be used up in areas that could be used for play or sleep.
I first learned about the “time yourself” trick many years ago when I worked at an ad agency and read about it in my O Magazine. I thought it was genius and set off to purchase a kitchen timer after work (something that I never owned prior to wanting to time myself in the office).
I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline rush or pressure, but somehow getting done before the “ding!” works. I’ve since moved on to a digital version.
You can try the: Tomato Timer or look up how to execute the Pomodoro Technique (which is another timed method with intervals and breaks). For those packed days, consider using a timer for all projects, proposal writing, email checking, etc. Setting up times to get tasks done should allow for greater efficiency.
Note: This is a trick that really does work, but doesn’t always stick without discipline. Start off slow and with projects that make the most sense so this doesn’t add stress!
Schedule social media, digital and industry research
Set notifications on client accounts that can be skimmed periodically (and addressed as needed), but everything else gets scheduled. From your personal check-in time on Instagram to scrolling on Facebook for “research,” to tantalizing newsletter sales in your inbox.
Identify your go-to pubs for quick looks. Make a list of outlets you frequently visit and bookmark them or put them into a reader. Then set the time that you will check them. Sign up for news recap sites like: Need2Know, Vox, Skimm and also fashion news sites like: Business of Fashion, WWD, Fashionista, and of course, the PR Couture Weekly so the most important information to you is delivered to you (which also cuts down on distraction).
Take Control of Your Inbox
There is a lot of noise in our inboxes that simply doesn’t deserve our time. Set aside 10 minutes a week to unsubscribe, or use something like Unroll Me to cut down on the unread email count.
If you’re not able to unsubscribe for some reason (prospect newsletter, media contact friend, etc.), be sure to create labels and rules to filter your emails. Spending a morning developing an email system will save you tons of time in the long run.
Tip: Separate newsletters out by creating an entirely new email address just for shopping/brand newsletters. Check once or twice a week.
Force yourself to take breaks
We all know that exercise is important. But it’s not just good for the body, but apparently great for the brain. Getting the blood flowing helps with cognitive skills and memory, and considering we all have so much work to do, we really want to be firing on all cylinders.
If your day is packed with events and meetings time goes by quickly and it’s easy to realize you’ve seen the sun set without getting any work done. Enforce downtime each day, even if it’s one 15-minute slot to slow down (heck, lie down on the office floor) and just breathe.
For days when you are chained to your inbox being a pitching powerhouse, take regular breaks and go outside. Use the time to walk around the block, eat lunch outside, stretch, get grounded. Don’t look at your phone. Give your brain a break!
Drink more water. Just do it.
Isn’t this on all wellness “take care of yourself” lists? Going to go ahead and throw it in here, too. The next time you head for another cup of coffee, try a tall glass of water instead. So much of the time we are tired and run down in part because we are dehydrated. A ton of water will help keep you alert, flush out toxins and keep your skin glowing. Drink it from a pretty glass, add in some fresh lime or a sprig of rosemary and give yourself a treat. If you need a reminder, there are a ton of apps to help you remember your H2o.
We work in an industry that’s often “on” around the clock. When you’re able to, we have to remind ourselves that it’s OK to just “be.” Even if it’s just for a few hours. What may appear to be doing “nothing” at first, can bring about fresh creativity and new ideas. That renewed energy and clarity is also noticeable to your clients as well as media partners, and will help you, help them to better manage and navigate these hectic times, too!