• Exhale- 5 Tips to Reduce Planning Stress

    POSTED September 22, 2014

Pair a good book with a cup of tea, practice yoga in a meadow, and pencil in daily Swedish massages. While all of these things sound ideal, what if you could stop the cycle of stress before it starts?

For a planner, reality is more along the lines of bottomless mugs of coffee, running between venues and Swedish fish. There’s good reason why- following only military personnel, military generals, firefighters and pilots- event coordinators hold the 5th most stressful job in the US, Forbes and CareerCast agree. It’s about time we brought a little more joy into our work and relied a little less on java. Here’s how:

1. Write It Out

To-Do lists seem like a given, but rather making them only when tasks become overwhelming, these lists will be most effective if made on a short term and long term scale. Dividing lists into days, weeks and months is effective, but also divide them by department or topic. This allows you to recall the small details that seem relevant at one point, but will slip your mind by event day. Not a writer? Use the smartphone glued to your hand to keep track of the various lists you created, rather than trying to keep track of post-its.

2. Delegate Creatively

Meeting and event planners often feel pressured to have all the answers. This pressure will lead to a stressed leader and an underused team, which will show in your event. In the early stages of planning, set individual meetings with team members to find what areas of growth they would like to explore, then shift their responsibility to include a related project. Rethinking how responsibilities are divided can often lead to epiphanies of others' skill sets and will win you back some free time. Use your resources of clients, partners, friends, friends of friends- expanding your horizons only expands the possibility of getting a “yes.”

3. Express Gratitude

Thank you notes after a big meeting or successful event are a no-brainer, but how often do we take the time to thank the people that support us? To be most effective, it’s best to thank your team members quickly and frequently, and give more in depth feedback on a regular basis. After an event, your team also deserves hand written thank you notes (yes, your hand writing, not the intern’s) specific to their role. Reminding staff and volunteers of their value and impact will lead to a confident, motivated team that will take more projects off your hands.

4. Tried and True

We all love the new apps and cutting edge technology, but there’s something to be said for simplicity. If you’re not familiar with a platform or tool, take the time to learn it or have a staff member lead the efforts. Avoid the keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ mentality and have purpose and strategy behind what you include in a meeting or event. This reduces stress regarding how the new technology will function day-of, how it will be received and how to coordinate seamless back up plans. It’s essential to try new things and stay relevant, but only if executed with intention and patience.

5. Put Yourself First

We’re not counteracting tip # 3 here, but rather focusing on personal health. Tending to urgent event matters instead of quality nutrition and rest may cause completed projects to be better off unfinished. It’s simple: when you aren’t at your best, you won’t complete the best work. This goes for being a leader too; if you are tired and short-tempered, your team will be lethargic and negative as well. Take these tips and personalize them to your team and your events. If you’re stressed, you’re probably not the only one. By changing our behavior, we can change the culture of the organization. Maybe dedicate time to working out with your planning team, collectively unplugging for a period of time or a group activity that makes your job as fun as it sounds. In reality, no one will remember your perfect centerpieces, flawless transportation arrangements or impressive sponsors if the team has a mid-event meltdown.

Namaste, planners.

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