Get Your Priorities Straight: One of the Most Important Skills for a Communications Professional to Have

Posted by on January 24th, 2014

Those of us who work at an agency are no strangers to juggling. Not one member on the KCSA team only works on one or two accounts; more likely it is closer to seven or eight. To compound the frenzy of addressing multiple client needs, most of us have to prioritize tasks from several managers on a daily basis, making this ability one of the keys to success in agency life.

As KCSA’s resident OCD team member, I’d like to offer up the following tips on how to get tasks done in the most efficient and timely manner, with as little stress or miscommunication as possible.

  • Write it down – Sure, you have all of your meetings for the day scheduled in Outlook and some random tasks floating around in your inbox to check off, but having your to-dos in multiple places is setting yourself up to drop the ball. Make one to-do list each day – I like to write mine before I leave for work the night before to feel more organized in the AM – and include all tasks, from meetings and administrative items to phone calls and document drafting.
  • Communicate with your managers – If you have multiple tasks and overlapping deadlines, the best way to make sure all of your to-dos are completed on time is to speak to your managers. What would they like you to focus on first? Is there any wiggle room for the deadline of a certain project if you need extra time?
  • Know how you work best – Some people like to check all of the small tasks off their lists before tackling bigger projects; this is how I work. Others like to dig into a bigger project before getting to the minutiae. Know what style makes you most comfortable and allows you to work best and go by that, but always understand and respect deadlines.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute – Think you work best under pressure? Maybe, but don’t leave the other members of your team hanging while you wait until the last minute to complete a task. Make sure to give yourself enough time to check in with the rest of the team so that the deliverable isn’t due to a client before the rest of your co-workers have time to review or edit a document if necessary.
  • Check in – This goes hand-in-hand with communicating with your managers – if you thought that a task would only take two hours, but you’re three hours in with no end in sight, have a discussion. If you want a manager to look at the work you have so far to make sure you’re not spinning your wheels or going down the wrong path – ask!

At the end of the day, we are all communications professionals here. The bottom line is to be transparent with your team about what you have on your plate, ask for help if you don’t know what task should be completed first and be honest with yourself about how long certain assignments will take you.