The two-minute guide to time management for journalists

Time management and journalists tend to go together like babysitting and King Herod.

We’re driven by the fast-moving agenda of external events and breaking news, and the relentless need to fill pages and refresh websites, aren’t we?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, our days aren’t blank diary pages in the same way that most other people’s are.

There is a demanding rhythm to our day that rarely lets up.

And part of the joy of being a journalist is that you never entirely know what each day is going to bring.

But there are things we can do which allow us to make better use of our time.

Tackling stress can be all about maintaining greater control of our working day.

We may have pages to design, breaking news to react to, or stories to send.

But by trying to plan our days, we can stamp some semblance of our own authority on the patterns and rhythms of the workplace.

Here are some ideas:

* Make a list of the things that you need to do, ideally the night before

* Estimate timescales and set mini-deadlines, like optimistic councils sometimes do with their meeting agendas. Hopefully you will have better luck than the officials keeping verbose politicians in check. Trying to keep pace with your timetable can concentrate your mind wonderfully.

* Do things in batches – send emails in one go, set aside half an hour to return all your phone calls, lump all your admin such as expenses together

* Get calls and emails in early in the news cycle to maximise the chance of callbacks and responses in time for your deadline

* Don’t over-multitask – close down emails or web browsers occasionally, or switch off the bottom right hand corner alerts.

You should also get the balance right between quick win, easy jobs and the satisfaction of getting a really nasty task out of the way early.

And try to get better at advance planning – plan ahead, and use diaries, as I suggested in a previous blog

Anyway, I gave myself 20 minutes to write this, and I’ve already bust that by ten, so I need to get on.

Good luck with it all.




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