Event planning can be a hectic profession – in fact, it is consistently ranked among the most stressful careers. Event professionals work long hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays – especially before and during big events. In order to get through busy times, it is critical to get a handle on time management in order to minimize the chaos, reduce stress, and ensure that events go smoothly.
Fortunately, time management is a skill – or rather, a collection of skills – that can be learned, practiced, and refined over time.
If you’re finding yourself swept up in the chaos of event planning, here are some tips to help you get a handle on your time so you can be more effective, efficient, and productive.
Create a Schedule and Stick To It
For the next week, schedule time in your day to complete specific tasks, leaving time open to handle the issues that pop up throughout the day. For example, you might block out time from 9 to 11 a.m. to focus on a particular project and leave time before lunch to address emails and answer questions. Be specific when scheduling your time and create mini goals for each block of time. Don’t worry if you’re not perfect at estimating the time you’ll need for specific tasks — you will get better with practice.
Prioritize Your To-Do List
If you don’t already have a to-do list, write one today. If you do have one, think about how you can organize it to be more effective. Start with a master list of everything you plan to do, then create mini lists that include those items. For example, you might create one list that includes everything you plan to do this week, and then each day, create a daily to-do list that pulls from those items. Every morning, write a new daily list that includes everything that you didn’t cross off yesterday, and some of the tasks that linger on your weekly list.
Assign a Deadline to Every Task You Need to Do
Take a look at your to-do list and give a deadline to each task, even if you plan to do it today. For the next week, every time somebody asks you to do something, ask them when they need it completed. If you’re leading a team, include a deadline with every task you assign. By having an idea of how long completing your tasks will take, it will give you a big-picture view and help with setting realistic timelines for yourself and others.
Put Your Phone and Email On Silent
This time management trick may make some event professionals’ hearts skip a beat, but hear us out. After you have scheduled time to complete the tasks you have prioritized, make the most of the time you’ve carved out. When you sit down to do focused work for a set period of time, close your email and messaging apps, silence your cell phone, and do whatever you need to do in your physical space to indicate that you should not be interrupted. If the work you’re focused on involves emailing people or making calls, ignore unrelated messages until you are finished. If somebody interrupts you, assess the urgency. If it can wait, let them know when you’ll be available to address it. Try this several times throughout the week to see how much more productive you can be.
Find an App That Works For You
One of the benefits of living in the digital age is that we have countless tools to save time or help us be more productive. Of course, they must be used wisely or they can actually be more distracting and contribute to inefficiency. The digital tools you can use to promote productivity include:
- Messaging apps that enable quick communication with team members, clients, and even vendors
- Electronic planners for scheduling and notifications
- Email shortcuts that save time when responding to common requests
- Auto-replies to let people know when they can expect to hear from you so you don’t feel compelled to reply immediately
- Timer apps to put time limits on tasks
- Collaborative apps that allow team members to work together efficiently
- Electronic notebooks or boards that help you save ideas, websites, reminders, and random notes so you can quickly jot something down and return to it later, rather than be distracted in the moment
Event professionals will always be busy, but you can find tools and develop skills that will help you find ways to manage your time more effectively. These tips are a good starting point to help you juggle projects and priorities, manage the stress and chaos, and make your corporate events look effortless.