After stints at Edelman and on the brand side, Jennifer Babbit Bodner decided she wanted to go out on her own.
Now her days consist of early mornings, close conversations with her team and her clients, family time and lots of coffee. She keeps it all under control with a Google Calendar, Slack channels and a willingness to try something new.
For example, her agency is getting away from the model of tracking and billing time. How does it work?
Here’s what she had to say about her work in PR in our latest in the Day in the Life series:
- What time do you wake up?
My mornings usually start pretty early—around 6 a.m.—since in addition to running an agency I’m also raising a family of three girls. I find that getting up on the earlier side allows me to get my day going ahead of schedule by sending out some initial emails, focusing my thoughts on the day ahead, and getting myself mentally prepped for the day ahead before the house wakes up and goes into full swing.
- How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?
Behind my family, coffee is my most favorite thing. When I go to bed at night, I get excited to wake up so I can have my coffee. I worked on the Starbucks business for many years and have continued to be a Starbucks devotee. I start my day with Via, their instant coffee, before anyone else wakes up; and then I usually pick one up—a tall Pike Place—on my way to work. When I’m really dragging, I’ll add in an afternoon cup from the office.
- Who is the most important person at work you talk to during your day?
My clients. I really believe many have lost the art of client service. If I don’t speak to at least one client by phone and meet with one in person each day, I’m failing at my commitment to them.
- What’s one tool that you couldn’t live without?
I couldn’t live without two things: my Google calendar and Slack channels. Google calendar keeps me continuously organized and on track with both my personal and professional daily schedules. I find that a consistently updated calendar is what keeps me sane from day to day and allows me to work efficiently and on time. Slack has absolutely changed the way I communicate with my entire team. With Slack, we’re able to create specific groups, chains or channels for clients or projects and keep connected with everything in one singular place for all our team needs. In communications, everything is always changing, so being able to have consistencies with my scheduling and lines of communication just makes my entire day that much easier.
- What’s the last thing you do before finishing your workday?
I always try and make my to-do list for the next day. It helps me feel like I know the next day is manageable, that I’m set on priorities and that I can go to sleep without worrying I’m forgetting about something.
- What keeps you up at night?
One of my three kids—they’re always climbing into bed with us in the middle of the night.
- What trend or change is the next big thing in communications and/or your industry?
One big thing we’ve done as an agency is move away from tracking our time. While a typical standard practice, I’ve found working with larger agencies and then now running my own business that time tracking seems to actually deter from productivity and creating valuable, meaningful client work. When people are too concerned with trying to hit hours or freaking out because they cannot remember their exact day a week before, it adds unneeded stress and anxiety to the workweek. My goal is to create an agency environment that focuses on deliverables, not time spent.
- Anything else you want to share?
For an agency person, this column feels ironic. The beauty of that #agencylife is that no two days are the same. People that thrive in an agency environment don’t want routine or consistency; we live for the surprise and delight of new things each day and the continued excitement and “unknown” our clients will bring.