10 Simple Habits That Improve My Efficiency: Advice from a PR Consultant
I’ve been working as a PR consultant since 2013, and I plan my own work schedule. I don’t have a boss to give me tasks and deadlines, so it’s important to be able to motivate myself and to create a viable work environment. So I want to share with you the helpful habits that I use in my work and private life.
I began to do morning meditations 18 months ago. My mentor kept telling me to meditate, but it wasn’t until I read someone’s words — “Emotions hinder you from making the right decision” — that I was inspired to actually try. The benefits came quickly, and I got used to doing it. I began by meditating for 20 minutes and gradually increased the time to 40.
I like that meditation leads to mindfulness, and that it’s the fastest way there. Mindfulness helps me to move outside the box of existing models of thinking, of acting, and of assessing situations and people. My efficiency has improved considerably.
To meditate, I mostly use the Breethe and Insight Timer apps. As well as meditations, Breethe offers inspiring monologues about love and spirituality, calming videos, breathing techniques and various masterclasses on topics such as taming your ego. Insight Timer, meanwhile, has the largest free library of meditations, spiritual courses and music.
I can’t imagine my working day without sport. I love to run in the mornings or train with the Nike Training app. A morning training session gives me a giant energy boost. After running, I feel happy and relaxed, I think clearly, and I’m ready to take on the world! Have you heard of “runner’s high”? It’s a state of special euphoria.
Before, I would only run if I was late for a meeting or a train. I knew nothing about running… it existed somewhere else, in the lives of other people. However, two years ago I took a DNA test, and learned that I have a genetically high level of stamina. I thought that I should use the advantage that was bestowed upon me by my parents, and so I tried running. At first, it was three kilometers, then five, then — even more. During business trips and on vacation I train before breakfast, and in Moscow, I train two hours after I’ve eaten breakfast.
I run wherever I am: in Tel Aviv, New York, Sochi, Munich, Minsk… It doesn’t matter whether it’s a vacation or a business trip. I like to run in the mornings, but on the weekends I prefer to do afternoon runs. In unfamiliar parks or cities, I often combine running with walking, and I run in intervals. Running is about continuously challenging my motivation and will.
Two years ago I began the search for my first coach. Back then, everything was stable and predictable… but I wanted to move to the next level. I needed to ask two questions: “Should I open my own PR agency?” and “How can I become more confident?” I spare no expense on coaching: investments in self-improvement are priceless and always pay for themselves. A coach is also important because they can evaluate your competencies, resources, and emotional strengths. They determine the vector of your actions.
You may know yourself inside and out (or think that you do), but you’ll be surprised how many insights you can gain from an outsider assessment done by a professional.
I have an Instagram blog and I recently made a series of posts about working with coaches, which sparked a lively discussion. There are two kinds of coaching: business coaching and life coaching. There are also two directions of work: coaching as consulting, and coaching as a style of human resource management.
Many people asked me about the difference between a coach and a therapist. A therapist primarily helps you to figure out things like childhood inhibitions, fears, and your relationships with parents/spouse. A coach, on the other hand, works with you in the spheres of personal and professional growth, determines any gaps in your skills and knowledge, helps you to achieve results at work, focuses your attention on future goals, and provides feedback (such as telling you whether your wishes and actions are harmonious, or whether you contradict your goals). The most important thing is that the coach unlocks your potential.
I spent three months with my second coach working on strategic communications. To put it bluntly, she taught me to communicate, but on a different level: we discussed negotiations that I was a part of, my position in these talks, how to figure out the different “roles” everyone’s playing, how to stay within my bounds, and how to react to irrelevant comments and rhetorical questions from clients.
Thanks to my coaching, I am now much more confident in any kind of negotiation. It also helped me to realize that I will only achieve success if I work and collaborate with like-minded people. And the most important thing is that I’ve been able to rid myself of any expectations: both when it comes to others, and when it comes to life in general. I think that my thoughts and I myself as a person have become much lighter as a result.
Today, my coach is like an SOS button for me. If a critical situation comes up, we discuss it over the phone. It helps me to quickly resolve the issue without wasting time on emotions.
4. Regular communication with mentors
A mentor shares their experience and gives advice; they often work in the same industry as you, and can share contacts. I have two mentors, and I didn’t have to search hard to find them. From the very beginning, I closely followed the work of professionals whom I knew wanted to meet.
After moving from St. Petersburg to Moscow in 2016, I looked for opportunities to meet Masha Drokova. I visited all the conferences in which she was advertised as a speaker — but every time, she presented by Skype. However, one time I got lucky and I actually met her in person. I rattled off my prepared speech in a matter of two minutes, and told her that I wanted to work with her.
I had two long and several short meetings with Yuliana Slashcheva. I try to attend all of the events she speaks at, just to have another chance to listen to her. I am very proud of my infrequent but nonetheless deep communication with Yuliana. Each meeting I have with her gives a huge boost to my motivation. I leave with a clear idea of the things I need to work on, and it’s never long before I see myself grow professionally.
5. Reading motivating books
I read a lot, and I read several books at once. For example, I am currently reading Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow using the LitRes app. I also have The Power of Now and 20 Mistakes That Ruin Your Life and Ways to Avoid Them (in Russian, by Mirzakarim Norbekov and Michael Roach) on my nightstand.
I always write down inspiring quotes and advice and immediately put them into practice. I believe that you should take steps as soon as you’ve received guidance… it’s the only way to see results.
New thinking gives me a fresh outlook on sensitive issues. For example, I was often asked about my market competitors and my attitude towards them. My answer used to be simple: there is no competition. But I was able to expand on this idea and understand the lack of competition more deeply after reading How Champions Think,where Bob Cullen writes: “Your biggest competitor is yourself. The hardest struggle is inside.”
6. Useful apps
• The Trello app for project management is an excellent way of organizing, streamlining and optimizing workflow.
• Calendars by Readdle literally manages my life. It can be synchronized with iCloud and Google Calendar, which means that events can be added and edited from any device. In addition to email and push notifications, you can set up text message reminders about important dates.
• Wunderlist app for personal goal-setting. You can use it to create a task, establish a checklist and a deadline, set up notifications and add hashtags. I use the app as a to-do list for my projects, tasks and goals.
• Zoom calling app. I usually use this service to call international clients and colleagues, although Russian users are now starting to prefer it to Skype. Call participants receive a link ahead of the call and use it to join the conversation. It’s very convenient!
• Nike Training app. Aside from my runs on the treadmill or in the park, I use this app for all of my daily training. It contains more than 200 sets of exercises: from yoga, to weight training routines for muscle building. Everything is super convenient: you select the type, duration and intensity of the training session, and the level of workload; you can search routines by muscle groups, by type of equipment and so on. You may find that the role of your online coach is played by Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Sydney Dwyer or a variety of other sports stars. You can create a training program for four, six and eight weeks. This app will teach you to love sports!
I keep an Instagram blog that documents my life. When emotions overflow, I publish a post with my thoughts. Such introspection helps me to quickly get over situations without dwelling on them. This is true for both negative and positive emotions.
Introspection enables me to rationally and systematically streamline my thoughts and reach a constructive result. Self-analysis and the ability to take a deep look inside help me to quickly draw conclusions without revisiting different situations. It’s important to stress, however, that it’s not just about personal misunderstandings with other people or my own mistakes… it’s about positive things as well.
I have learned to be happy without getting stuck and inflating my ego. For example, I recently signed a contract with a world-famous person, but it had no effect on my self-esteem because I have long learned to see such things as simply a result of my efforts.
8. Communication with American PR consultants
At least three times a year I visit New York and attend the courses and masterclasses given by American PR consultants. I work with several agencies and help them with the Russian market. The scale of the creative projects that we discuss during our meetings amazes me.
Marketing and communications in the US are already out of this world, and we can only wait for the same level of economic development in Russia: when companies are ready to pay at least $100,000 for press events, and there are professionals of a sufficient level to manage such budgets.
In addition to this, I subscribe to a private chat between American PR consultants, and I constantly study their projects, take part in discussions and ask questions. The experience and knowledge that I pick up from this help me to solve my own problems faster.
9. Algorithm of task execution
I have a certain mechanism of task execution and overall approach to the working process. I only take on a problem after I have a good grasp of it and all the necessary information. This allows me to do the work quickly.
I plan all of my calls for certain days and meetings for others. As a result, I don’t rush from a meeting to a call, but remain available throughout the day. My business meetings are 30–40 minutes long. I try to set up meetings to fit my own schedule by initiating them myself. This way I have an opportunity to choose the date/time/place.
I sort my mail and messages in a timely manner. If I can’t answer right away, I mark the email and return to it later, but I never leave it without an answer. My rule is to answer all emails within 36 hours. I do all of my work in my email, that’s an important sidenote. My iron clad rule is that if I start a task, I always complete it.
They say that the quantity and quality of our connections to other people has a direct effect on our longevity. Networking helps me to be effective, because when I know a person that would be right for a specific task, it only takes me one or two calls to set everything up.
I recently read a book called The Next Level. It’s about building relationships with people, and it explains why networking is a necessary part of life, how to create opportunities for networking and where to find the right resources. It’s a quick and easy read. The main idea is that connections help people aged 30 and above grow professionally, and that it’s important to build your social capital. Social capital enables us to achieve our goals faster.
I realize that connections should be diverse, as they can provide me with a new way of looking at things and a more creative vision of a situation. The author of The Next Level (in Russian, by Alexander Kravtsov), writes: “Someone has to dispute your worldview in order to expand your horizons.” This is why I try to socialize not just with PR consultants, journalists and entrepreneurs (although I spend the majority of my time with them), but also with musicians, designers, actors and others.