For an event organizer, there are never enough hours in the day. No wonder that Forbes named “event coordinator” the fifth most stressful job of 2017!
Prolonged exposure to stress isn’t just bad for your work performance and personal life, it can also be detrimental to your physical and mental health. So what can you do?
Luckily, there are simple habits you can grow to maximize your productivity and reduce stress. Whether you’re a time management ninja or more adept at reacting on the fly, here are 15 habits to help get more control over your to-do list.
Habit 1: Use the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule suggests that 80 percent of our output comes from only 20 percent of our input. In other words, if we focus on the impactful tasks at hand, we will achieve far more, more effectively. Take a look at your workload: What drives the biggest impact on your event’s success? Prioritize those tasks and try not to sweat the small stuff.
Habit 2: Systemize your workflow
When you have an efficient system for capturing and organizing the information that comes your way, you can stay present in the moment and avoid distractions. The earlier you can set up a workflow system and get your team on the same page, the better. For inspiration, check out best-selling author David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.”
Habit 3: Declutter your workspace
Clearing your workspace removes distractions and helps you focus on the task at hand. Gather up all the papers and files on your desk, and “process” them. If the papers belong in a file, file them. If you’ve kept them there to remind yourself of something, add any necessary action items to your to-do list before you put them away. If they’re unnecessary, recycle them.
The same applies to your desktop: delete unnecessary files and icons and close any windows you’re not working from.
Habit 4: Schedule your day
You can schedule your day in a to-do list, or if you prefer to live by your calendar, allocate blocks of time for specific tasks. There is truth to the old adage, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Working within a certain time frame forces your brain to work toward a deadline — and move on when time is up.
Habit 5: Eat breakfast before checking emails
Your body needs fuel to get through a busy day, but many organizers end up skipping breakfast. Once you’ve engaged with the workday by checking your phone, the sense of urgency to get to work increases — and food is no longer a priority.
Set yourself up for success by eating a hearty breakfast with a meal that includes a high-quality source of protein and complex carbohydrates.
Habit 6: Block off working time
Protect your calendar by blocking off chunks of time to sit down and actually get work done. You may have to reschedule or shuffle these blocks once in awhile, but do your best to defend your working time so you don’t end up doing the work at midnight.
Habit 7: Leave space for the unexpected
As an event organizer, you get plenty of last-minute, “urgent” requests. In fact, nearly half (44%) of organizers say their biggest barrier to productivity is last minute requests. So when you plan your day, make sure to leave at least 20% of your time free to tackle the unexpected.
Habit 8: Create a team roadmap
When everyone knows what they’re working on, it’s less likely that a ball will get dropped — and if it does, you’ll know who is accountable. Keep a team roadmap that includes key dates for everyone on your team. Revisit the roadmap frequently, reminding team members when they have a deadline coming up. And set up recurring weekly or bi-weekly meetings to track the group’s progress.
Habit 9: Make a folder of “five-minute tasks”
These are tasks that you can tackle whenever you have a free window of time. Having a place to store these quick tasks will keep you from worrying about them while you’re focusing on bigger things.
Habit 10: Don’t be afraid to delegate
Getting work done doesn’t always mean doing it yourself. Delegating tasks is an important part of being an event planner. Free up your time to focus on your most important work by delegating tasks that require less experience, projects that will help someone learn, or even things you hate doing.
Habit 11: Say “no” once in awhile
Event planners take pride in getting things done, so it’s tempting to say “yes” to every ask that’s thrown your way. But saying no every once in awhile is actually good for your productivity. Protect your time and sanity by creating boundaries and saying no to the things that will bog you down.
Habit 12: Take frequent breaks
It may sound counterintuitive, but taking breaks throughout your workday will make you more productive. Even a 30-second “microbreak” can increase your productivity by up to 13%. And taking a 15-second break from staring at your computer screen can reduce fatigue by 50%.
The optimal schedule for a time-pressed person? A six-minute break every 80 minutes. Use this break to stand and stretch or take a walk around your office. If you can go outside for fresh air, even better!
Habit 13: Keep meetings short with an agenda
Before every meeting, take time to consider the goal of the session. Do you want to leave the meeting with a decision on a certain issue? A list of action items for your team? Consider this goal as you build your agenda, allocating specific amounts of time to cover each topic.
Share the agenda with all attendees prior to your meeting so they have time to review and prepare to speak to any relevant areas.
Habit 14: Use technology to streamline your process
Planning an event means managing a million moving pieces at once. Without a streamlined workflow, details slip through the cracks — and your team wastes valuable time (and money) on manual tasks. Thankfully, there are a myriad of tech tools that can help you make the most of your time and resources.
Habit 15: Plan a post-mortem
Put time on the calendar the day after your event to go through everything that worked — and didn’t work — while it’s still fresh in your mind. Gather your team for a post-mortem and make sure to document your conversation. The more detail you record, the better you’ll be able to plan your next event!
Want to learn more ways to improve your workflow — and ultimately your events? Download the Event Organizer’s Ultimate Guide to Productivity.