Amplifying the earlier blog on balancing right and right, is another wise thought on how to apportion your working time. And it applies to the PR and marketing function with as much relevance as in every other department. Wherever we work, there are two broad types of activities: maintenance tasks and development tasks.
Maintenance tasks are what we need to do to keep our business ticking over – literally maintaining the ideal levels of sales, customer satisfaction and so on to ensure that money keeps flowing in fast enough to meet expenses. A situation you could describe as comfortable, but unexciting. The danger is that If we spend too much time on maintenance tasks, we will never be more than comfortable – or taste any exciting new challenges.
Development tasks add the excitement to working. We should all be spending a portion of our time on growth opportunities, whether pitching for new business, developing new products, learning new skills or simply networking at trade shows or exhibitions. Development tasks add the muscle that builds businesses as well as careers – but of course there has to be a balance.
Big companies employ people to focus on development tasks, but in small businesses the mix of maintenance and development tasks should be part of everyone’s responsibility – even made formally part of the business plan. The big question is what percentage of time should anyone spend on development tasks?
The answer has to be left for personal circumstances to dictate, because there are so many variables. But for my money, the first and most essential development task must be to improve productivity on maintenance tasks so that enough time is freed up for meaningful development work – without endangering the bottom line.
Challenge yourself to complete at least one significant development task every working day – they won’t all lead to more sales or a big promotion, but if you stick at it you, and others round you, will soon notice the difference.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.