I'm probably biased, but the media industry can get pretty stressful sometimes. Publicists and journalists alike know all too well the pressures of meeting deadlines, checking news feeds around the clock and constantly adapting their strategies to deliver what their audience wants to see.
But these challenges certainly aren't unique to media professionals. Small business owners and entrepreneurs face the similar task of making their way through a seemingly endless to-do list while remaining up to date with what's going on in their industry and target market.
During my time in the newsroom, I've learned a few tricks to help me stay productive, even under tight deadlines. No matter what industry you're in, these tips can help you get more accomplished during your workday. [How to Prioritize Your To-Do List]
Make organization a habit, not a chore. Being disorganized is one of the biggest time sucks for any professional. If you can't find that one file, phone number or statistic you're looking for, you'll end up wasting valuable minutes or even hours that you could have been spending on actual work. Organization should be part of your daily routine, not a once-a-quarter task on your to-do list. Make a habit of filing papers, contact information, etc. in a designated place as soon as possible after you receive them, so you'll know where to look should you need them in the future.
Learn how to block out distractions. When you're on a deadline, every second counts. You can't afford to click on that hilarious-looking article that popped up on Twitter, or check your instant messages from co-workers. Pop-ups and push notifications can be a source of constant distraction, so give yourself the courtesy of turning them off during periods when you really need to buckle down and get work done. Everything will be waiting for you when you finish. This is especially true of emails: Vowing to only read and respond to emails at half-hour or hour intervals has been one of the most productive things I've learned to do.
Use one calendar for everything. I'd be lying if I said I never forgot about a phone interview until the source called me. The reason I forgot? I'd scribbled the date and time down on the notepad sitting on my desk, instead of taking a minute to create an appointment on my email calendar. If you want to be sure you don't miss anything, sync your personal and professional calendars to the same cloud-based place (or in a notebook, if you happen to carry it everywhere you go). And unless you have an infallible memory, don't forget to turn your notifications on.
Don't dwell on criticisms. Journalists are notorious for getting hung up on critiques of their work, whether it's an editor tearing apart their latest draft or an online reader leaving a nasty comment about one of their pieces. Dwelling on that negativity, or worse, self-righteously defending yourself against it, isn't going to help you fix the problem. Determine which criticisms are valid and which ones aren't, and use them to improve.
Be prepared to handle urgent interruptions. In the world of breaking news, stories can get bumped for more pressing ones at any given time. The same concept applies to other industries. Sometimes the projects you've been planning or working on for weeks need to take a back seat to a time-sensitive issue, and you may have to drop what you're doing halfway through to address it. Learning how to seamlessly transition back into your original project after you've abruptly changed directions is difficult, but the sooner you're able to get back into that mindset, the more productive you'll be.
Originally published on Business News Daily.