Event planners face a daily whirlwind of tasks and deadlines. Our industry comes with unique challenges, constant changes to plans and long days making sure every item on the critical path is completed with fire proof precision. It can become too easy to completely immerse oneself into work with no time for relationships, hobbies, family, rest or even joy. We need to recognize that the most important thing in life isn’t trying to keep up to the never-ending checklist that follows us each day.
I like to say that I am a recovering productivity-obsessed-work-acholic forever trying to push back against the norm of busyness and burn out glorification that our society has created. So here are tips for maximizing productivity and adding in a little joy along the way:
1. Once per week, sit down and create a list of goals and priorities that need to be accomplished before Friday hits. Block dedicated time in your calendar to work on these most important items without interruption (that means turning notifications off!)
2. Review this list daily and add-in other critical tasks to complete or work on each day – TIP: Be realistic about what can be accomplished in a single day or week. If you have a day with 3-4 meetings, it’s probably not the day to tackle 5-6 other items on your list.
3. Schedule in time for breaks throughout the day. Try working in 30 min increments so it’s easier for your mind to stay focused on the task at hand. Then take a short break – stand up, stretch, drink water. Setting an alarm is a good way to keep on track!
4. Complete the quickest items on your list first. This can give an instant feeling of accomplishment and give the motivation you might need to power through the rest of the day efficiently.
5. Turn off notifications – just do it! Each time our phone, tablet or computer buzzes, beeps or lights up we become distracted and easily pulled away from the task we need to focus on. Did you know that, once distracted or interrupted, it takes the average person 23 minutes to focus again. Wow!
6. Work in a clean and organized space. When our environment feels calm and decluttered, it helps work feel calmer and less stressful. Take time every day to file paper work or computer files away so each morning your work space feel welcoming.
7. At the end of the day, take time to reflect on what was accomplished, instead of focusing on the items you may not have been able to get to.
8. Make it a phone call! Emails often take a lot of time to compose before they can be sent and can often lead to mis-understandings on what was being communicated. Picking up the phone and making a quick call with the questions or explanation you need to give can often eliminate numerous emails back and forth as well as encourage collaboration on that item with the other person more easily that an email can.
9. More meetings is not making you more productive – Really! It’s far too easy now to arrange a ‘quick’ video call with a colleague, client or supplier and before you know it, your day is filled with meetings! On average, 5-7 virtual meetings can be replaced with ONE in-person meeting on the same topic. Especially since we know that on average 73 per cent of people work on other work while in a (virtual) meeting. If you’re heading into a meeting, create an agenda to help guide conversation and allow productive discussion and decisions on critical items.
10. Sync between all of your devices. If your work phone isn’t synced to your work computer and your personal calendar is on another device, this can lead to missing appointments, double booking yourself and adding additional stress to your day. Where possible, sync devices so they are each telling the same story about what your day looks like.
Caitlin McElhone, BSc., CMP, CSEP, is owner of CM Events, an awarding winning professional event planning company in Edmonton.