I admit I am one of those people who sees something sparkly and easily gets distracted from the task at hand. I put off projects that don’t have actual deadlines, or on the weekends I give myself a list of things to get done and the next thing I know I’ve wasted an hour and a half scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feeds. How did I waste that much time?

As event planners, we handle it all—what time the tables are being delivered, what time the entertainment goes on stage, what meals are being served—don’t forget the lady at table 10 who requested a vegetarian meal. She’s already emailed three times about it! Our minds are constantly moving from one thing to the next—no wonder it’s easy to get distracted by shiny things.

Event planners are good multitaskers—it’s what we do. We can carry a lot on our plates and a lot on our minds. However, it’s not easy to be a superwoman all the time. It’s important to recharge and find ways to be better time managers so we can cross things off our to-do list and, instead of feeling like they’re a burden, find the enjoyment of being productive and checking things off.

So what’s the secret to managing your time better? Making time a priority. Each week, usually on Sundays, I set time aside to plan out the week. I’m a visual person, so I still maintain a hardcopy planner and I like to look at my entire week laid out. I schedule in my client and internal meetings, my volunteer and board commitments, the time I set out to complete work, my workouts—you name it, it’s in the planner. There’s just something about looking at the day and week and knowing ahead of time what’s coming up. No surprises, because I’m in control. Isn’t that what most event planners seek—control? (insert wink face).

After I see what the week looks like, I write down my 10-12 weekly goals and then three daily goals that will help achieve my weekly goals. I used to be one of those people who would write this huge to-do list, but then I wouldn’t complete half of the things on the list and ended up feeling defeated. So I learned a trick: Shorten the list—that simple! This has been life-changing and why didn’t I think of this before? In any case, there is power in the pen. If you write it down, it somehow makes you think about it differently—like an actual task and not just a thought. So write down your goals for the week.

Other tips:

  1. Eliminate distractions and free yourself from your inner critic. Sometimes we have so much going through our minds that we make up excuses for why we can’t do something, or we doubt ourselves. One of the things I’ve found helpful is keeping a journal and giving myself the freedom to write down those not-so-positive thoughts and then never looking at them again. Just give them a way out of your mind.
  2. Find space that makes you thrive. For me, I love sitting in the comfort of my own home with no distractions. No TV or music playing—just me and my thoughts. It’s when I feel the most productive. For others, it could be a local coffee shop or your creative office.
  3. Do things in batches—consolidate vendor meetings and bring everyone together versus scheduling separate meetings. If you run to the store to pick up décor materials for an event this weekend and you also need supplies for the event at the end of the month, write a list and go out and get everything at once instead of running out twice. And on days when you’re running out for errands, schedule lunch meetings so other days during the week are carved out to complete work.
  4. Learn that it’s OK to say no. One of the things I learned the hard way was overcommitting myself. When you’re young and eager and want to be involved in everything, it’s hard to say no. However, it’s easy to burn out that way and you end up not giving 100% to any one thing of what you commit yourself to. When you’re mindful and responsible for caring for yourself, you can give back to others in a much bigger way.

What are your secrets for best practices to manage time?

Kathy Phelps
Vice President of Special Events, Public Relations

Kathy is an accomplished event planner and producer with an eye for detail and a gift for creating unforgettable experiences. She brings years of experience and talent to lead a dynamo team of customer service-oriented masterful event planners. Kathy has volunteered for nonprofit initiatives with the Public Relations Society of America, American Lung Association, American Heart Association and Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley. She also served as a PRSA board member and is a recipient of the PRSA Rising Star award.

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