ECC Tips of the Month Roundup 2021
Some advice from the ECC
February: Katie Gould – Editorial Assistant, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Take advantage of remote conferences. While the world is still navigating a predominately virtual landscape due to COVID-19, conference events will most likely look a little different this year. Use this change to your advantage! Many in-person conferences are now set up for online events. Take this time to explore remote conferences and learn as much as you can on a variety of subjects.
Have a consistent morning/pre-work routine. Whether your “morning” is at 9:00 AM or PM, creating a routine that eases you into your work at the start of your day is essential. It could be a cup of coffee, a light workout, changing out of your pajama pants, walking your dog, or some quick journaling. Creating a pre-work ritual that you use with consistency will help set the tone for each day, and will help you feel more alert and ready to get started.
Keep in touch with outside colleagues. Even with home offices and Zoom meetings, most of us interact with our coworkers every day. It’s also important, however, to maintain those relationships outside your company. Agents, colleagues, and other creators are all dealing with the difficulties of COVID-19, and everyone appreciates some human connection these days. Whether it’s wishing them a happy 2021 or reaching out to congratulate them on a newly published book, a little goes a long way, and they’ll be sure to remember you once a new opportunity comes along.
April: Victoria Velez – Publicity and Marketing Assistant, Scholastic
Prioritize giving yourself a break from your work during the day. As someone who is guilty of hardly taking a lunch break and eating at my desk, learning to give myself a break from work throughout the day has been a process. I used to find myself feeling guilty or overwhelmed when I would take time away from work especially if I had a lot going on. Given that we have all been working from home for over a year now, and dealing with a pandemic, finding the time to give yourself a mental breather is important. With Spring upon us and the weather getting warmer I find that eating my lunch outside and going for short walks can help me feel even more productive throughout the rest of my day. Giving yourself the chance to not be glued to a computer screen 24/7 is rejuvenating and we should all be doing it!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help even if you feel like you should have the answers. Almost the entirety of my professional work life has been spent working from home in the midst of a pandemic. As much as I feel like I’ve learned a lot in the year that I’ve spent in this position there is still so much about my job that I feel like I haven’t gotten a handle on because the industry has had to adapt to the circumstances we are operating in. At this point in my role, I feel like I should have everything down pat but that’s not always true. I have gotten used to needing to ask questions about things I may have already known the answer to had my work experience been different. It was hard at first not to beat myself up over not knowing everything but I realized that was just an unrealistic amount of pressure to put on myself. My coworkers are always happy to lend a hand and the more I’m willing to ask questions (even when I feel like I shouldn’t have to) the quicker I’m able to learn.
Revisit your favorite childhood book series and comfort reads. With so many amazing new books being released all the time it can be overwhelming to keep up with what to read. I’ve started making time to revisit books that I loved as a kid in elementary and middle school and haven’t read in years. Reading all of these nostalgic books has kept me interested in reading even when I might be in a slump. Not only are they enjoyable stories but the re-reads often bring up memories of the first time I read the books and how differently I experience them now as an adult. The nostalgia factor is huge right now with so many TV shows and even beloved book series being rebooted. But there is something special about reading a book from your childhood in its original form and having all of those warm fuzzy feelings all over again. Pick up that book you bought at the book fair in 5th grade and haven’t touched since, I highly recommend it!
June: Gaby Paez – Children’s Marketing and Publicity Assistant, ABRAMS Books
Don’t be afraid to ask for more regular feedback. I often feel like I need to wait for a formal review to discuss my performance and the goals my supervisor and I have previously established. If it has been a little while since your last check-in that wasn’t directly related to your weekly tasks, it can be really helpful to get a gauge on how you are improving. I’ve found reviewing my goals on a more frequent basis helps me get the most out of my chats with my manager.
Try out a new productivity trick. At this point, I like to think I have the best organizational systems and productivity “hacks” to keep myself going. I’m usually too reluctant to branch out and see if something I see online might boost me out of a funk on a bad day, or be a smart addition to my regular routines. I recently tried a task timer and scheduler app and was surprised at how much it helped me focus!
Try not to punish yourself for having an off day. This is something I need to take to heart! You can’t be a productivity machine 24/7 — sometimes our personal lives just bleed into our jobs and we aren’t working at 100% of our capacity. It’s easier said than done, but it’s better to just do what you can, set aside some time for your mental and physical health, and come back the next day without a ton of guilt weighing you down.
August: Cassandra Martinez – Commercial Operations Coordinator, Candlewick Press
Find your soundtrack. If you’re like me, you enjoy listening to music as you work. However, the wrong tunes can become a distraction, so finding what’s right for your flow is essential. Classical music or movie soundtracks are perfect for responsibilities that involve greater concentration. For more tedious tasks (such as anything with a spreadsheet), I prefer musicals or extremely lyrical albums as they tell a story, but won’t pull my focus away like a podcast would. And for the in-between, I explore other people’s playlists. This allows me to discover a lot of new music while I work—something I look forward to that adds joy to my day.
Make your to-do list more specific. Someone once suggested an upgrade to my to-do lists and I haven’t gone back. When things get busy and everything seems to have a different deadline, I recommend organizing by ABCs or a rough timeline. The first method is more of a daily to-do list that involves labeling tasks with A, B, or C. A tasks must be done that day. B tasks should be completed soon as possible, but aren’t due immediately. C tasks are those with distant or flexible deadlines. The other method I use (this is better for weekly or monthly lists) is organizing by “priorities,” “due next week,” “when possible/if I have time.” I use whichever method I need at the moment, which gives me more clarity than a huge, unorganized list.
Move or stand if you are able! Whether you’re still working remotely or back at the office, pay attention to how long you’ve been sitting. Movement is good for both your body and your mind, and if you are also able to stand for periods while you work, it can help with posture, stiffness, and improve concentration. When working from home, I stack books on my desk to raise my laptop and set timers to remind myself to move every 30-45 minutes. It’s a small trick that works, particularly as it’s easy to remain sedentary without in-person meetings or a commute.
October: Josie Dallam – Sales Coordinator, Little Bee Books
Take naps! I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time working in the same room as my bed or a couch. Sometimes things get really overwhelming, probably because none of us are taking as many breaks as we used to. Remember when you used to get up from your desk, go to the bathroom, get more coffee, chat with co-workers in the kitchen, and would be gone from your computer for 10-15 minutes? Water cooler chats might be gone, but in its place, I think, short naps during the day when you need them are excellent replacements.
Don’t be afraid to follow up. I worry that I will bother people by following up, but honestly, all of our inboxes are still overwhelmed with more emails than they used to have. So if someone doesn’t respond to my email I send them a Teams message. Generally, most people just forgot or didn’t see it and they don’t mind being reminded.
Get out of bed before you check your email. Okay, I did save the most controversial for last. I know many friends and co-workers who wake up at 9 am and immediately check their work email on their phone or turn on their computer from bed. The idea of this gives me nightmares. Waking up and having a morning routine gives me a sense that my life is larger than work, especially as work from home drags into its 18th month.