When choosing a profession as an event manager, you don’t select the typical 9-to-5 routine job. You opt for an exciting, dynamic and never-letting-you-get-bored job that often leaves you with the impression that the 24-hour day is too short to do all the work. That’s exactly why having strong time management skills is crucial for any event professional. The good news is you don’t need to be born with them. They could be learned and perfected with the help of some useful tips and hacks that we’ve assembled together in this short time management guide, specifically tailored to the event manager’s needs and lifestyle.
Start with a Detailed and Manageable Action Plan
A plan is as important to the event manager’s work as the skeleton is to the human body. It holds everything together and protects it from falling apart. An elaborated and manageable action plan is the key to your job well done and should be your first step when starting a new project. To create such a plan, however, you need not only to write down your specific tasks but also to set deadlines and targets as well as to allocate the necessary human and capital resources. Elaborating a viable plan may take some time but on the other hand it saves you tons of it afterwords. What’s more important, it ensurs the final success of your project.
Make Daily To-Do Lists With Prioritized and Time-Framed Tasks
You already have a project plan, but it’s how you organize your daily work that will help you follow it through. And the simplest, yet invaluable tool for staying organised is the good old to-do list. Whether you will write your tasks down in a notebook (yup, the old-fashioned way with a pen on a real piece of paper and yup, some people still do it) or you will use one of the many tools available out there (such as Wunderlist, Evernote, Asana, Clear etc.), there are two other factors that matter most when making your to-do list. First of all, you need to set realistic time frames for your tasks. And second, you need to arrange the tasks by order of importance, or in other words, to prioritize them. I know it’s tempting to start the day dealing with some easy tasks of no urgent importance just to warm up a little bit and get the satisfaction of crossing off some bulk of tasks. But that could ultimately be counterproductive as you might easily end up not having time for the truly essential work to be done. So I would advise you to always start with your most pressing and significant tasks for the day.
Whether it comes to your project plan or your to-do lists, there is one thing that determines most the favourable outcome: staying realistic. Be down-to earth with your targets and your actual capabilities. Not doing so may only lead to disappointment which will do no good, neither to you nor your project. Don’t set too many tasks you can’t cope with in your daily to-do list and always allocate some buffer time between them. Because apart from the time you spend working on your assignments, you need to take into consideration the countless small distractions or some unexpected, urgent tasks that may come up that will surely disturb and slow down your work process.
Batch Similar Tasks Together
Batching similar tasks together is a trick that helps your brain switch more easily between different tasks making you more efficient and quick at your work. For example, if you need to make phone calls, allocate a certain time slot for doing that, don’t just randomly call different people during the day. Or if you have tête-à-tête meetings outside your office, try to schedule them in close intervals from one another in order not to waste your whole day travelling back and forth between the office and the meeting venues.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
“Multitasking is simply a mythical activity. In fact, studies show that a person who is attempting to multitask takes 50% longer to accomplish a task and he or she makes up to 50% more mistakes.” Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School.
Learning to focus on one thing at a time is vital for being an effective event manager. If sometimes it seems that event profs are multitasking, they are actually just tackling tasks or taking decisions one after another in a very efficient and quick manner, leaving the illusion of simultaneity. So unless you are a Napoleon descendant or extraordinary gifted person, I don’t recommend you trying multitasking. Just devote your whole attention to your current task and you will implement it better and faster.
Remark: The following two tips do not refer to the periods right before and during an event when the event manager’s work is too dynamic and demanding to be put into any frames.
Try to Build a Daily Routine
The event organizer’s work is too exciting and diverse to talk about any form of routine. Still, there are certain tasks you need to do every day like checking your e-mails, managing your social media accounts, responding to comments/questions on website(s), you name it. If you constantly interrupt your work every 15 minutes or so to check each newly received message or e-mail, you will never complete your other daily assignments. Instead, you could do these activities a couple of times a day (or more, depending on the activity) at certain hours or intervals of time. Let’s take for example your e-mail checks. You could follow a pattern, for instance: 9:30 a.m. first check, 2 p.m. second check, 5.30 p.m. last check. Try dealing with the urgent e-mails right away and distribute the rest in respective folders or mark them in some way according to their priority and handle them when you are less busy.
Have Don’t-Disturb-Me Time Slots Each Day
Part of your job as an event manager involves constant communications with partners, media, subcontractors, speakers, attendees, you name it. That means, of course, lots of distractions and interruptions under various forms. But there is also the type of work requiring your complete devotion and attention like writing a press-release or a blog post, or any other task involving some creativity or concentration. Isolating yourself for some time each day (whether for an hour or half a day) is your key to do these tasks better and faster. Easier said than done, you’ll say. With just two steps ,however, and some determination on your part, that’s quite achievable:
- Stay away from all tech-related distractions: turn off notifications on your phone (or ditch somewhere the phone itself, if possible) and forget about your e-mail, social media channels etc. There are actually apps that could block you from all social media websites, close your e-mail or set your instant messaging status to “away” for a certain period of time that you choose (like StayFocusd, Anti-Social, Freedom etc.).
- Notify your co-workers: set yourself away on Slack (or any other messaging app for teams you use) or just ask your teammates not to disturb you for some time unless there is an earthquake or the building is on fire.
You will be surprised how much more productive you will become by just doing so.
Make the Most of New Technologies
Technology is meant to save us time and make our work easier! The event registration and ticketing software are the event manager’s best friend. Weemss is an all-in-one event management platform that covers every stage of your event: from the planning phase and registration trough sales and analytics right up to the event check-in.
Take Advantage of Your Downtime
Keeping up with the trends and news in the event industry is a challenge in the busy lifestyle of an event prof but at the same time that’s a must in order to stay competitive in this business. Luckily, as they say “Where there’s a will there’s a way!”. Using your downtime for staying up-to-date with the event industry trends is a practical solution you should definitely try. You could, for example, listen to podcasts at the gym or read the hottest event industry trends and news while commuting back home from the office by some means of public transport.
Learn to Delegate and Outsource
Learning to delegate and outsource part of your work is harder than it seems. You might think you can do all the work yourself faster and better than anyone else but the thing is you are not superhuman and time is not endless. I’ve learned that important lesson the hard way – through never-ending working days and some sleepless nights. So trust me on that – when overloaded with work, delegate some of it to your less-busy teammates or outsource some tasks to partners or subcontractors. It’s not quitting or being lazy, it’s part of staying realistic and making efficient and manageable plans.
Don’t Forget To Take Breaks
Being engulfed in your ceaseless work as an event manager, you could easily forget to take breaks. That could, however, result in making stupid mistakes and spending more time than usual doing some simple, everyday tasks. Always allow time for short pauses during the working day (you might use break-reminder tools like Eyeleo, EVO, Rest) and try spending some quality time away from all work-related duties at weekends and holidays. That’s crucial for your well-being and accordingly for your productivity at work.
Mastering these time management hacks will help you not only excel in your professional life as an event organizer but will also undoubtedly have a positive impact on your personal life, as you will unconsciously become more organized in everything you do. If you could add any other valuable time management tip to our guide, please leave it as a comment below.