What’s your gut reaction to the phrase “hit the ground running” in a fast-paced workplace? Do you immediately feel pumped and ready to go the distance with the team? Or do you feel a little anxious that you might struggle to catch up with your colleagues?
I’ll tell you a secret about being on a fast-paced team: it’s not supposed to be a race. You’re expected to tackle day-to-day responsibilities and meet deadlines, but that doesn’t mean you need to do everything at breakneck speed. The better approach to being successful on a fast-paced team is often found in taking measured steps, like the ones these professionals love to utilize daily.
1. Schedule specific tasks for each day.
Creating a to-do list and prioritizing items accordingly isn’t new behavior for most working professionals. Many individuals, myself included, draft up to-do lists and spend the day crossing off items as they are accomplished.
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed reviewing your to-do list, you’re not alone. Carina Glover, Founder and CEO of HerHeadquarters, recommends making an overall to-do list and mapping out which days you’ll work on specific tasks. For example, you might spend Monday afternoon working on content audits for the company blog and schedule phone meetings in for Tuesday morning. Assigning certain projects to certain days, according to Glover, makes it easier to stay on track with your to-do list.
2. Create digital and hard copy to-do lists.
You know what’s better than one to-do list? Having multiple iterations handy. Fabiana Meléndez is a publicist at Zilker Media. Being in a fast-paced PR environment means Meléndez always migrates her handwritten to-do lists to a project management tool, like Monday or Airtable. Having digital and hard copies handy helps in the event of a laptop suddenly dying or being unable to find the original written to-do list.
3. Eliminate email busywork.
Julia Kelly knows firsthand how hectic a fast-paced company can be. As the Co-Founder of Rigits, Kelly works with over 50 clients that each have monthly deadlines. Staying on top of each client’s needs requires agile and efficient movement. However, Kelly recalls that there was a time when staying on top of her inbox was its own job.
“Our inboxes were getting continually cluttered with internal forwards, CC’s, and BCC’s,” Kelly says. Her team solved the problem by using a Google Chrome extension called Hiver. This tool allowed their team to eliminate more than half of their internal emails and keep company conversations email-free with the help of tags and ticketing.
If you find you’re in a similar spot, try utilizing a tool like this to de-clutter emails. You may also eliminate unnecessary emails, like sale offers from stores, from your work inbox the old fashioned way and opt to unsubscribe.
4. Work alongside an accountability partner.
Fast-paced teams require everyone to be on the same page and stay in the loop about what’s coming next. Rather than go it alone, Glover recommends sharing weekly project lists with an accountability partner.
“I share my project list with my co-founder," she says. "Not only does this help with accountability in knowing that someone else is relying on me to get these things done, but I know I have someone to step in and offer assistance if I’m getting behind.”
5. Find — and trust — your organizational style.
Former newspaper reporter turned PR professional Tracy Green is used to fast-paced workdays. Green is an account executive at Estes Public Relations. Her workload may vary each day, but her organizational style remains the same. Green spends her Sundays sitting down and syncing up her paper and digital calendars. Once you have found the organizational style that works for you, Green says to trust it.
“People organize differently, so do what works best for your brain.”
6. Ask yourself: do you love what you do?
This last bullet isn’t necessarily a step to success on a fast-paced team, but is applicable for success on any team. Christine Deussen, President of Deussen Global Communications, says that if you don’t truly love your work, it’s impossible to bring 110% to the role every day.
“It’s worth it to change careers, start over, or take a pay cut to find the career you love,” Deussen says. “Once you love it, you will be successful. The fast pace will be exhilarating rather than exhausting.”