PR people are busy, and sometimes it can be hard to make time for continuing education. I don’t know about you, but I have a bad habit of letting industry magazines and articles I want to read pile up on my desk and in my email inbox, until eventually they get trashed, unopened. However, I recently started using a tool to make public relations professional development easier. It’s an app called Instapaper.
How Instapaper Works
Instapaper is essentially a bookmarking service that saves selected web content and allows you to read it later, on any device. This includes desktops, smartphones and tablets. The Instapaper smartphone app works on Android and Apple devices. A Google Chrome extension enables the app on a desktop. And you can even send emails you want to read later to your personal Instapaper email address.
As you find web content you want to save from any of your devices, you hit the Instapaper button. When you sign in to your Instapaper account, you’ll see all your saved items there. You can organize the content into folders, if you’d like, and you can make highlights and notes in the articles.
How I use Instapaper for Public Relations Professional Development
When I check my email in the morning, it is rife with helpful public relations professional development content. I used to click on the intriguing headlines to open up tabs in my browser, naively thinking I’d read the articles later in the day when I had time. No surprise, I rarely did. Client work and other commitments would inevitably get in the way. These articles–as well as my good intentions–would float away into the ether.
Now, I still open the articles I’m interested in reading. But, I immediately hit the Instapaper icon in my browser for each one and then close the tabs. Then I set aside 45 minutes on my calendar each week to read all the articles I’ve saved in Instapaper.
I find this approach works well for me because it allows me to better focus on the material. I can take my time with reading and learning, instead of trying (and often failing) to skim a few articles a day, half-distracted by my looming workload.
The trick here is to treat this weekly reading time just like I would any other commitment. I try my best to protect that time, and if I absolutely have to schedule over it, I make sure to slot it somewhere else on my calendar as soon as possible.
Here’s how I help ensure I don’t skip my reading time: I read somewhere nice. Like at the park, or by the pool, or at a coffee shop. An attractive environment and getting away from my desk incentivizes me to put in my learning time each week. And it’s easy to do with Instapaper, because I can read my articles on my Kindle or iPad.
If you have tips for making public relations professional development easier, please share them in the comments below!