November brings plans for the biggest holidays of the year. Family gatherings are set, wish lists made and diets begin as we gear up for feasts, parties and, hopefully, a bit of time for personal reflection.
As the end of the year closes in, it also may be a good time to take a look at our professional objectives. All year we talk about accomplishing big goals—revamping or overhauling websites, dedicating time to review messaging, updating collateral material or reviewing budget allocations.
As we know, the pace of PR has never been faster. It seems that way at least. As a result, many of these big items are set aside as the day-to-day of putting out fires supersedes all.
Just as making a holiday dinner takes coordination, checking and management, the same goes for projects at work. Whether you work for a corporation, nonprofit or yourself, taking a few moments during the last weeks of a calendar year for a performance checkup helps you wrap up the year with a better sense of where you are and what to prepare for in 2016.
Here are six tips to help you get started:
1. Review Your Annual Goals and Expectations: Santa Claus has the right idea—lists can be useful. The Thanksgiving break is a good time to create a list of which projects have been completed and which have not. Sometimes important projects are off schedule because of circumstances beyond your control—maybe an employee who was to lead a project left suddenly and you had to fill the gap, budgets changed, or a crisis occurred, leaving projects stalled. While you might not be able to compose a comprehensive list of projects before Thanksgiving, at the very least, find a few moments during the break to jot down ideas and thoughts that later you can make into a proper project list.
2. Define and Prioritize: Sometimes the most important jobs get pushed off due to time pressures. Perhaps the scope of a project is just too broad to wrap your arms around. In other cases, the project is one that you know needs to be done, but no one is asking to do it. Once you have organized a list of what’s still on the table, outline the steps to completion and rank the projects according to need. It also might be helpful to jot down the reasons why a project is important.
3. Seek Help: Once your plan to attack the project is clear, it may be possible to get help from others to complete the work before the end of the year. Set aside time at staff meetings to ask for help. Although you want to avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen, it may be possible to break down tasks within projects to more easily share responsibilities. If budgets allow, hire freelancers who know your organization and are deadline-driven.
4. Recognize What Won’t Be Done: Sometimes in this process it becomes apparent that not everything will be completed on time. There are times I have realized that even if I spent every waking hour on something, it just wasn’t going to be done. Take a moment to sort out what won’t be finished in the timeframe first established.
5. Change Course: Don’t wait until the deadline has passed to communicate that a goal or project won’t be met. Be clear with coworkers, supervisors and clients about concerns. It may be important to share the reasons for delays, but don’t focus on them. If the fault is yours, accept it and keep the focus on accomplishing the task at hand, rather than setting blame. Set up meetings to discuss project statuses, present priorities and offer realistic solutions. For example, could an option be a phase 1 and phase 2 approach? If a project is no longer relevant or needs a new strategy, communicate this and get input on fresh directions.
6. Put it in Writing: Once an agreement is reached, draft a plan that clearly communicates project changes. Include updates to scope, timing and responsibilities. If a project is determined irrelevant and will be eliminated, put this in writing as well. This update could simply be written as an email or could be a complete revision to a proposal. Send the update to clients and co-workers involved in the project and copy your manager.
Yes, we’ve provided much to think about before Thanksgiving, which, after all, is supposed to be a time for family. It’s unrealistic to think you can get all of these things done prior to Thursday. Yet taking a few moments this week to at least think about these six steps will help keep you sane—OK, somewhat sane—and organized.
You may also find that this practice boosts your self-confidence, as well as the sense of trust in your abilities on the part of co-workers, managers and clients. Once you see a clear path to completion, then you can enjoy your holiday meal with peace of mind.
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org @AimeeLewisPR
This article originally appeared in the November 23, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.