Communication, Culture, Productivity, Time Management

5 practical time management tips from a great roundtable discussion at last week’s CASPRA meeting

Last week I attended the monthly CASPRA (Central Area region of TSPRA) meeting in the Austin area. If you are in school PR and you are not a member of NSPRA and your state chapter, DO IT! The folks in these organizations are my LIFESAVERS! In fact, I drive an hour and a half there and back each month just to attend the monthly regional meetings. It’s worth every second, especially when the discussions turn out some great tips like the ones below.

Marco Alvaredo, Director of Communications & Community Relations for Lake Travis ISD, led one of the CASPRA round table discussions on time management and below are 5 tips, tricks, and tools I took away from the talks. In school PR, time management is a tough one, especially if you’re an office of one, but these practical ideas might help!

1. Use Google Keep for prioritizing daily tasks.

I recently shared how I use Google Keep for prioritizing my daily tasks. I still contend that my “Fab Five” list is the one trick that keeps me on track to complete the most important tasks before moving on to less pressing issues. If you’re not familiar with Google Keep, check out the getting started post here.

2. Group related emails into folders, then check by topic to keep from having to switch gears multiple times.

I thought this was a really interesting idea. I strive for zero inbox, and I usually start from the top of my inbox and work my way down. I archive anything that I have already attended to and keep everything that needs my attention in my inbox. I do sometimes struggle with having to switch mental gears from one email to the next as the topic changes. By first sorting emails into folders, you can keep your momentum on one topic before moving on to the next. Do you check emails this way? I would be curious to know how it works for you!

3. Tackle your biggest projects first.

Jennifer Bailey, Director of Human Resources & Communication in Jarrell ISD, recommended completing the most daunting tasks first before moving on to tasks that require less time and effort. There have been many times when I have slid a project from one day to the next on my calendar because I just don’t want to deal with it. I like this idea, though, to just dive in and get it done! Eat the elephant one bite at a time!

4. Use Boomerang for Gmail to streamline email checking.

I have been using Boomerang for years and I love it! Boomerang allows you to schedule emails to send later, temporarily archive emails and have them pop back up in your inbox at a certain time, and “Boomerang” an email back to your inbox to remind you to follow up if you haven’t gotten a response from the sender.

5. Recognize capacity and strategically abandon, if needed.

Jennifer Bailey of Jarrell ISD also introduced a very thought-provoking term during our CASPRA time management discussions … strategic abandonment. She shared how her team at a previous district was reduced and the skeleton crew finally had to strategically abandon some initiatives to operate within their capacity. School PR departments can can become the dumping ground for every project and idea and initiative in every campus and department. We have to consider, however, if we’d rather go far and wide with shallow projects or deep dive into initiatives for maximum quality.

Two more tidbits…

I recently heard about Redbooth, a project management tool. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it’s on my list. Anyone out there using it? I would love to know how you like it!

The book Sense of Urgency by John Kotter was also shared at the CASPRA meeting. It’s currently on the way from Amazon to my door. Have you read it? What did you take away?


The Journey Begins (Again!)

I started my first blog, EdTechChic, in 2011 as a way to connect and collaborate with other professionals, as well as share little tips and tricks I learned as an instructional technology specialist. I am a big believer in sharing content and ideas with others rather than hoarding all the good stuff for yourself. I remember seeing a post on Pinterest years ago that said something to the effect of, “Why won’t you share your idea? Are you afraid it’s the last one you’ll have?” I always told people to use anything I created and shared. I already had the glory. Pass it along. Together we’re better.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Although I truly loved blogging, when I accepted a new role as communications director in my district in 2016, I found that I had very little to contribute. I’d been “EdTechChic” for years, but this new role was taking me in a very different direction – uncharted territory. It has taken me nearly 3 years to find my footing as a school communications practitioner and feel as though I have anything valuable to offer my professional network again. I have learned a lot along this journey, and I am excited to move from consumer to producer once again.

Every day I learn something new about public relations and communications, especially as it relates to the education industry. I look forward to sharing ideas, tips, and tricks, as well as learning and collaborating with you.

Check out the toolbox page before you leave! I will be elaborating on and adding new tools as the blog develops, so check back often. What are your favorite “work smarter, not harder” PR tools?

click here for my favorite tools