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How to plan an event (and avoid becoming stressed)

For the third year in a row, Event planning has been chosen one of the most stressing jobs in the world according to the Forbes Magazine. Event planners and coordinators are the eighth most stressed-out professionals out there, behind deployed military personel, military generals, firefighters and airline pilots, and it’s no surprise. The hustle and bustle of organizing an event, small or large, will stress out even the most prepared manager. We want events to be perfect and run like clockwork, and that comes with a very expensive toll to our health. How can you make everyone happy and not die from stress trying? Follow this simple steps.

Plan ahead

Start planning early. If you are rushing everywhere all the time, then you are certainly doing something wrong.From our experience, the ideal time to start planning an event is around two to three months in advance depending on the size or the nature of the group or event. In any case, should give yourself plenty of time to be as much as a perfectionist as you wish. As a rule of thumb, if you think you can do it in two months, then start two weeks earlier. It will save you many headaches and increase the quality of your event.

Taking extra time for a single project can be hard for event planners, since we are often working in many projects at the same time. Justifying the need for more time can be hard, both to ourselves and to our bosses, but once you do it, the results will keep you from looking back. Think of an increase in the quality of the event, and a reward for you: better  state of mind and better health.

Plan one thing at a time

Having more time in your hands means that you don’t need to multitask anymore. Multitasking, for many people, has proven to be the ultimate productivity killer. How many times have you left the office after a long day thinking ‘I’ve actually not done that much at all today’?

Lists are your friends, as long as you stick to them.

Write down the five or six tasks you have to get through today, and add subtasks to each. For example, if one your tasks is finding a restaurant for your group, your task would look something like this:

FIND A RESTAURANT FOR APRIL
Find 5 suitable restaurants in the area
Call 5 restaurants and ask for availability, menus and quotes
Gather feedback
Make a decisión
Make a reservation
Add to the event Schedule

Having multiple subtasks for the same task makes it easier to track, therefore making you less likely to multitask, and much more rewarding to complete, since you can follow your progress in a much more direct way.

You may say: ‘Why do I need to stop multitasking when it allows me to do multiple things at the same time?’ Well, first of all, ‘Multitasking’ is an illusion which has been proven to decrease one’s productivity by up to 40%, and also because nobody multitasks.

Instead of doing multiple things at a time, research shows that what the brain actually does is switch rapidly from one task to another, without being able to close or focus on any of them, interrupting ourselves unproductively and losing time in the process, leading to that feeling of ‘what have I REALLY accomplished today?’ we’ve all felt at some point in our careers.

Multitasking can also have a nasty effect on your mindstate. Switching from task to task can make you feel stressed due to the illusion that you are swamped with work, when most of the time all you have to do is to make a plan and close things one by one.

Stop multitasking to live better (and work better).

Use technology

Years ago, when sites like booking.com started appearing, travel managers and agencies felt that tecnology was replacing them as the client could contact the hotel and other services directly, without the need of any intermediaries.

Although this may be true, travel professionals have adapted to the new market and survived, even without one of their main sources of income. Dear event professionals: technology is your friend.

For example, if you are still collecting payments via bank draft and making registrations by fax, you need an update. Online event registration platforms can automate this process, making it easier to track and operate and saving you time, money and a ton of stress.

Another important point here is the so-called ‘social media revolution’. Sites like Twitter or Facebook can be very useful if used in the right situation. For example, if your audience doesn’t know what a ‘hashtag’ is, you shouldn’t be using social media to promote your event. Keep in mind that a proper social media strategy requires time and money, and if you are not ready to put in what it takes, you should save that energy.

As we said before, making lists works wonders. At Eventdeals Asana helps our team to keep in the same page, and we love it.

Love yourself: take breaks

clock

Chances are you are reading this from your office. When was the last time you took a 10 minute break to take a snack of go for a short walk?

If your answer is two hours or more, stop reading this and take a break. People who take (justified) breaks are more relaxed, more productive and, most importantly, happier. It is also known that the human brain cannot be focused on a single task for more than 45 minutes, so it is very likely that after that time has passde, your concentration levels will plummet.

Accept it: things may go wrong

Event planning isn’t a science, and you are not a machine. You cannot possibly have every single detail under control. Chances are something may not go as planned at the moment of truth. Most of the time, the best event planner is not he who can make everything go as planned, but he who can react accordingly and fix things when they go south.

Hope the best, prepare for the worst, and be ready to jump into action when something unexpected pops out.

Learn how to delegate

Look around you. Chances are you are surrounded by very smart, experienced and capable people that can make your job much, much easier if you just give them their chance.

As an event planner, it is easy to suffer from tunnel vision and think that only you and no one else can do you job, when in reality, if you are able to trust them, they can take over some smaller tasks while you focus on the bigger picture of the event.

Delegating is no more than a matter of trust in your team. They have your back, you have theirs – start acting like that is true.

In conclusion

Stress is the devil, and it lives everywhere. Most of the time, and although you’d love to, it cannot be avoided. What you can do, however, is lessen its effects. Having a more positive attitude will not only increase your performance, but also increase your productivity, focus and overall happiness.

Put down that phone, make that email you have to send wait for 20 minutes and go outside for a short walk. We promise you will feel much better when you return.