Julia Fitzgerald – The Art of Plate Spinning
As anyone who works in PR & Marketing will tell you, the industry is fast-paced and requires a lot of organisation, discipline and creativity to ensure that our clients receive the best service every day. For me, it’s always been that creativity aspect and doing as much as I can that is the most exciting part of my role.
After coming from a small agency and joining one that is not only growing at speed, but has clients and offices all over the country and the world, being complacent isn’t really an option. We have to be flexible and ready for anything, over communicate and work together as a team to ensure this happens.
I’ve always been an organised person and I know that I thrive when things are planned as much as possible. Forward plans for each client to make sure the team and I are always thinking ahead is important to me.
Setting realistic goals for myself and the team helps to ensure I avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed, while also (importantly), creating a happy working environment for those around me. If the team feels valued and the accounts are under control, then we all get the benefit of the positive feelings that come with being responsible for a job well done.
No two days are ever the same, and quite often the to-do list prepared at the start of the week has changed dramatically before Wednesday has even arrived! The list of possibilities for tactics and subjects we can support on is constantly evolving, and the circumstances in which we work vary hugely with the time of year, the economic environment and the niggles and glitches which form part of everyday life.
I thought it might help to share some of the strategies which I adopt and find helpful to streamline my workload and get into the right frame of mind to make my week a success. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Time management – If you find you have 10-minutes before your next call then don’t waste that time. Send an email, make a phone call, update a client matrix
- Regular office time – Working from home is great when you need to get your head down, but the office atmosphere is beneficial for asking questions, idea brainstorms and generally alleviating stress (as long as your colleagues are there at the same time!)
- Taking breaks – Time away from the screen really does help. I find getting outside is a good reset and while I am lucky now to work near one of Cardiff’s lovely parks I have always headed outside whenever I can. I find fresh air is key to a clear mind and adding focus
- Prioritising what is coming up – Getting tasks/plans started ahead of time means you can go back to them with a fresh set of eyes the next day or the day after without having to rush. While some people think they cope better with a deadline approaching, in my experience nothing beats having the time to focus on doing a job properly and not leaving it to the last minute
- Listen to the music – Compare notes with colleagues, seek knowledge and chat/ask questions throughout the day, it’s amazing what snippets of ideas can lead to bigger thoughts. Everyone’s an expert in their own interests and we all have useful bits of advice or knowledge to impart irrespective of their age or experience, whether we know it or not!
- Writing my to do list for the week ahead on a Friday – Not for everyone, but I set myself a target of doing five or six ‘big’ tasks a day, allowing for any extra work that will come in. A list of 25 tasks sets me up for the week and I go through each client matrix to compile that list. At the end of each day I’ll review what I’ve achieved which I find helps me get ready for the next day. If I don’t do this on a Friday afternoon then by Monday I’ve forgotten what I’ve been looking at!
Ultimately, planning is key but the best part of my/our job is talking to people, and I am lucky to have a great team around me as well as enthusiastic clients who we can turn to for help. My single overarching strategy is to always be positive, be receptive and always be learning – our experiences are setting us up for that next big thing, so I’m looking forward to seeing what 2023 has in store.