Is it possible to do it all in event planning? Perhaps if there were twice as many hours in the day, right?
When people think of event planning, they often think chaos. A stuffed calendar and inbox, logistics plans as long as your arm, and supplier overload.
Well, the stereotype of the busy-body event planner who rushes about and sweats while yelling orders, and barks at vendors for being late, stops right here, and right now.
As we all know, being productive and organised as an event planner is absolutely fundamental to be successful in the business. All it needs is a bit of time to plan and de-clutter, identifying the processes that make you effective, and eliminating the ones that don’t. And there’s no better time to start than the present so without further ado, here are our X tips to get you organised and more productive for the year ahead….
Event planners could be compared with project managers but on a MAMMOTH scale. If you look at all the tasks that are involved in creating an event, it’s certainly overwhelming. You are not only in charge of the dream event of a client (and making sure they’re happy at every stage) but planners also need to follow up on each step a million times to make sure the dream event will go smoothly. Venue-finding, permit research, back and forth emails with the venues on dates and prices and equipment – not to mention the vendors they need to source for other equipment, and food. Planners need to check everything is accounted for regularly: from the promotion of the event to the parking.
Having all of this information in one place and being able to update information on a single platform can make the poor planner sleep better at night. Asana can work really well for this: planners are able to organise their tasks in one place and easily chase a vendor or the AV supplier on a quick email. More than this, they can add tasks, and resolve them once they’re done, making the event planning process seem a lot less scary.
Now you have every task on there, don’t panic that you have to do it all yourself. Going back to the Mammoth Scale of Tasks that event planners confront in each project, planners should also be open to prioritise, delegate or dismiss tasks. The beauty of being a seasoned and exhausted planner is that you know your strengths, the strengths of your co-workers, and what can be given to new employees to help them learn the ropes of the business. You shouldn’t expect to tackle each event as a lone warrior, but tactically divide the tasks with realistic timescales to your colleagues.
Laying out all the tasks that need to be done is a great first step. The next step is asking “which of these tasks do I need to handle myself?”. For example, liaising with the client on event planning updates should be the responsibility of the chief planner involved. However, the small, time-consuming but essential tasks of identifying possible permits to acquire for the event can be given to the rookie that needs to learn. Even though everyone should be in the loop regarding each task (look to Tip #7), dividing and conquering the planning will be a massive stress-reliever.
Get a list and schedule your day around that list. Finding a venue, and finding the legal guidelines for the venue, as well as what they can offer you themselves for the event is an example of a day’s work. Write it down in the morning. Complete it.
Scheduling your day based on tasks, and not just counting the hours, is a secret trick most successful people keep up their sleeves. It’s no coincidence that Nordic workplace culture is considered one of the best in the world, and they have the shortest workdays. Working towards tasks, and towards a common and individual goal is not synonymous with a 5pm deadline and a 9am start. Some days will take you to 3pm, and some to 7pm: focusing on the project or the goals at hand will help fuel the sense of productivity, and actually streamline your energies into a direction each day.
Another tip is to adopt the Pomodoro technique! That’s not to say that you’ll eat pizza and suddenly you’ll be more focused, but that it helps to structure your day based on blocked time for rest and for work. Knowing you will have a coffee break between 10:30-11am, but that 11am until 1pm will be spent hard at work, gives a person goals to work towards that are met with breaks and rewards (which rests the brain). This technique also helps to centre yourself. Focusing on sleeping, eating and working out is just as important as focusing on the work-side of your life. Remember you are not your job and taking breaks during the day to rest or collect yourself actually improves the quality of the work. Entering a project or a task in a negative mindset will set the tone for your attitude towards it. And if you’re struggling to sleep worrying about what could go wrong with your next event, come this way….
As mentioned in Tip #2, all people involved in the planning and eventual delivery of an event should be keeping up to date. This can be done routinely with a shared document or single platform app (again, Asana is good for this); but for the more substantial progress meetings, these should be face-to-face. Going in with a clear goal and a clear idea of who is in charge of which task will make the meeting (hopefully) a lot shorter and more productive. People can present on their progress, concerns or achievements, and this will outline the goals for the next progress meeting as well as how each person will face their next tasks.
If people feel on top of their own tasks, and are aware of other people’s progress, it will also give an added sense of serenity and headway in the planning process!
When you do work and are on task, experts suggest an 80/20 rule: prioritise two goals, and focus on those impactful tasks. If you feel exhausted working on a certain task, come back to it later with a new approach and mentality. Again, there’s no use being unproductive and lagging on tasks! If there are some tasks that are not your strong suit, delegate work to others. The marvellous world of event planning almost ensures that no project or event you work on will be done alone. Give other people a chance to learn, and if you’ve already learned yourself, then focus on the skills and responsibilities you know you’re good at. For example, offloading a vendor setup to an employee who needs to learn more about it, but it stresses you too much on the day it needs to be done is productive-oriented.
Ah, technology. You love, or you hate it. But either way, it makes our lives a lot easier in a lot of ways. In this case, event planners have been blessed with the invention of document collaborating and all-in-one platforms that keep everyone on the same page. Google docs is a simple solution to a complicated job and allows for all parties involved to edit and view documents that contain vital information regarding an event plan. People are able to add information, remove it, flag up errors, and use it as a tool in progress meetings (and create more tasks from there).
Similarly, Asana is another amazing, and a more analytical resource. The beacon of organisation for all companies, Asana has surfaced as one of the most successful planning and organisation tools. The ability to list and create a timeline/calendar for delegated tasks only scratches the surface: Asana tracks individuals’ progress, and includes a page where people can communicate online, remotely. Tasks can be done from whenever – and might even eliminate the need for a weekly progress meeting!
While Asana helps with the task-based side of the project, it is not tailored to the needs of event planners. OnePlan is made and used by event planners. Our promise to end pricey, complex plan-hopping and version control madness is met by what we believe is the collaborative software to end all software. OnePlan offers a creative component, by allowing event designers to map tools on one system and gives them an accurate and extensive view of any event space across the world. Delight clients by showing them how their dream event is coming to life and give them a role to play in shaping it themselves alongside your team.
More than this, OnePlan has the ability to organise tasks, and keep all the information (venues, vendors, times, prices etc etc etc) in one place, where anyone working on the project can access it.
Maybe these technologies are the ones to love.
Now say it again.
Communication is key.
When sending emails, when conference calling, and when organising emails, include all relevant (and only relevant) people in the loop. Here, being short is definitely sweet. Be succinct and include only important details that need to be communicated; for example, time changes, updates on deadlines, upcoming tasks and tasks delegation. Keeping a Google doc for live collaboration, or other living docs (such as OnePlan) that update editors on changed to-do lists, schedules or documents is another way to keep in contact without an overwhelming amount of planning and back-and-forth. Meetings should be the only get-together in which a strategic planning session takes place. Going in with an agenda, checking off each objective and ending each meeting with clear next steps for each person is what a meeting should look like. Not an hour and a half of mumbling and side-tracking and coffee-pouring (unless that’s part of your self-care!)
In all of this, make sure you remember…
Leave time for that last minute, urgent request every event-planner LOVES (not). Having your email open in the evenings to help ease the panic is one option: taking 20 minutes at the end of the day for catching up with your vendors/confirming all the details on both ends can massively reduce stress too. But most of all, take advantage of the support around you….your team, the tools available; it can be easier.
12th January 2020