PR is about action not procrastination

PR time – balancing urgency and importance (after Stephen Covey)

One of those silly PR surveys yesterday made me think – it was about procrastination and the time we waste in putting things off. I am very familiar with the idea with students – and PR practitioners – who are deadline-oriented creatures and expert also at displacement behaviour where you focus on other tasks rather than knuckling down to the priority at hand.

I also advocate Stephen Covey‘s notion of ‘first things first’ and include an adaptation of his urgent-important matrix in the forthcoming Public Relations Strategic Toolkit.

To get to the point of this post, I decided yesterday to make a change. For over ten years, I have been the course director of the CIPR qualifications with Cambridge Marketing Colleges. This has been a great experience as I’ve been able to work with well over 200 students from whom I have learned as well as shared my growing knowledge and understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of professional PR practice. I learned a lot about pedagogy and have developed an excellent framework of learning materials and tutor support which has led to really good results. It has also been satisfying that many of these former students have gone on to become involved in PR education themselves, alongside those who have progressed their careers and made the decision to become independent practitioners where they have been equally successful. Such is the web we created as a community of practice over time.

My decision is to resign from this role. I had been thinking about making a change for some time and have a number of interesting and exciting new opportunities to pursue. I am also aiming to complete my PhD in 2013/2014 and know this will take a lot of focus in completing the research and writing up – and there is plenty of procrastination there to avoid. I have also been working with PR Academy this year and look forward to continuing with the CIPR qualifications as one of their growing faculty of tutors.

It feels like quite a big decision but at the same time, I feel relief for having made it. It is good to change direction and particularly to be decisive and take action. As I wrote in my last post, agentic self-efficacy is important in career development.

Also, you have to make room in life for new opportunities, new experiences and to develop new knowledge and competencies. You cannot do everything and moving on enables someone else to take over my role and make their mark for CMC. Taking a new path means you increase the likelihood of meeting and working with new people, which is another great thing to do in life.

Although I take decisions everyday and enjoy saying yes when asked if I will take on something new, I’ve been less focused on deciding what I need to offload to make the most of these new developments. In writing my latest post at PR Conversations – Looking for excellence in public relations, I mentioned a desire to be more of a trapeze artist and less of a frazzled plate-spinner. So I took a deep breath and committed to this change.

We can all feel like this whether it is taking on a new challenge at work, changing jobs or making other life decisions. You know something has to give, but it can be hard to move on, walk away or hand over something you have done for sometime. But there is a sense of being lighter when you do – and I’ve always enjoyed seeing other people have the opportunity to grow in roles or tasks that I used to do.

In 2000 I made a Millennium decision which was to stop being employed and work for myself. I didn’t want to establish my own consultancy or get rich, but to be more independent, decide what work I did, when I would take time to walk the dogs or do other things I enjoy. I wanted the time to study and work with clients on projects that I chose for myself. Of course, I thought about the change carefully – procrastinated a little – and then decided to start telling other people about my decision. I was partly asking their advice, and partly seeking to reinforce my decision to myself. I took the leap and have never regretted it. I could probably have earned more money and possibly have reached a senior role within an organisation or consultancy instead. But I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I like doing when I like doing them.

There is no point in having the free will to make decisions if you spend so long procrastinating that time slips by when you could be taking action. I’m fortunate that I can afford to take a risk and have the confidence in my ability to make things happen. But I believe in life we regret most the things we don’t do, the opportunities we let by rather than the decisions where things don’t always work out quite as we’d imagined.

So if you’re procrastinating over something, JFDI – taking action is what PR is all about.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

One thought on “PR is about action not procrastination”

  1. Great post, I am procrastinating my socks off at the moment, a sure sign I need a holiday. Good luck with the Phd JFDI rules!

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