For many public relations students, it’s hard to find the time to be creative with such a busy schedule. PR students spend their time just trying to get work done rather than figuring out how to do better work. I’ve found that many successful PR majors invest their time in other opportunities in addition to coursework, quickly filling up their days and leaving very little time to relax, never mind to just think and brainstorm.
How do you plan your schedule? Are you a paper and pen with a notebook planner type of student, do you fill your walls with sticky note reminders or use an online calendar to block your days?
I, for one, am an avid Google Calendar user. I used to order fancy planners and use colorful pens to write out my responsibilities for the week, but I found that I had to allocate extra time just to plan. New tasks would come up each day and lugging a big notebook and all of my writing utensils around was not efficient. Between working remotely, finishing up my last semester of college, podcasting for PRSSA and plenty more, it can be overwhelming to stay organized, so I try to keep everything in a central location. I’ve gone from solely using my calendar for Zoom meetings to now essentially planning out my entire week.
Instead of jumping from calendar to to-do list to whiteboard to sticky note, put it all in one place. It helps me hold myself accountable for the things I need to get done. If I’m meeting with someone or even just going out to dinner, I can send my friend an invite. I can use different colors to separate my work tasks from my class schedule from my student organization meetings. This helps me add structure to my life and prevents me from getting double booked. I even give people access to my calendar so if we need to meet, they can add time in around my schedule.
If you work in a remote environment where Zoom meetings are the norm, it’s hard to find time for actual working and thinking. I cannot emphasize this enough: Block off your calendar. To some, it might seem tedious to pencil in time to do your laundry and go grocery shopping, but I find it very helpful in keeping me organized.
On top of all the things you have to do, you can make time for what it is you want to do. I challenge you to take a few hours a week and block off your calendar for creative thinking. Don’t use this time to send emails and complete assignments. Use it to really think about what you’re doing. Look at what wraps up your time and you can work smarter, not harder. What do you want to accomplish? How can you be a better student, a better employee and a better leader? Encourage your fellow classmates and team members to do the same and make sure we are maximizing our time.
Kimberly Hurd is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida. She’s a member of the UF Chapter of PRSSA and the PRSSA National Publications Subcommittee. Aside from PR, she sings in UF’s all-female a cappella group, The Sedoctaves. Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn.