Eventprofs spin lots of plates every single day. To be super efficient AND effective you need to have some sneaky genius tactics to get everything done on time.
These time sucking tasks are just some of the things that can block our productivity and stop us from achieving our goals. Trying to do too much every day can lead to burn out and a lot of late nights so if you are someone who values your time (and your social life) you need to create better ways to achieve everything that you want to each day. This list covers everything from how to be more productive to making more time so that you can work smarter and not harder!
Stand up Desks
Not only are these kinds of desks useful for posture, health and keeping you active they can also improve your productivity, with no time for slacking. They promote healthier blood flow to the heart and brain which gives you more energy and increases your mood. Some models are easily adjustable between working standing up and sitting at your desk. Even if you start off standing for only short bursts during your working day as you adapt to the change it could be a revolutionary tool to invest in.
Short for memorandums these are nearly forgotten about in our tech filled world, however don’t dismiss them - they can be an effective tool to get information around the office quickly and break through the online noise (yes - really!). Traditionally in paper form they are usually on company paper (or templates) so they are still official without having to write a letter or long email. Memos can help get key important points across quickly and efficiently. It is easy to miss an email when your inbox is groaning but no one can overlook a memo waiting on their keyboard!
Rather than having hundreds of the same document or notes on the same subject by various different people, use collaborative programs such as Google docs which means everyone can access the same information and change, edit or comment on it all in one place and even at the same time. Not only does this save effort it also avoids mistakes and duplication and helps promote new ideas and innovation too.
You’ve probably heart of SMART goals as an event planner and while they are incredibly useful, they can be time consuming to make for short-term projects. Instead at the beginning of each day create a "must do before I go home" goal and an "I am aiming for this overall goal". This way you have an achievable and an overarching goal to strive for and if you fall somewhere in between you still feel like you have achieved something. If you find you are constantly staying late and can’t reach your targets, try aiming a little lower or using one of the other tactics listed to help you be more productive or save time elsewhere.
Stressing about a task is not going to help you complete it, in actual fact it could be making things worse! Being stressed and rushing can cause you to make timely and expensive mistakes that you didn’t need to make, as well as being bad for your health. Taking 5 minutes out of your day to de-stress can actually help you get more things done and focus better in the long run. Here are 13 daily habits you can use to relieve event stress.
Sticky Notes (and a pen)
To stop yourself having to remember all the random thoughts in your head and worrying about that "thing" you feel like you have forgotten, carry some sticky notes or a notebook and a pen at all times. Have one next to your bed too for those pesky late night rememberings.
Invest in Headphones
Distractions can be frustrating. Although talking at the coffee machine or conversations at your desk can help with team bonding it can be a nightmare when you are trying to focus on a looming deadline. Invest in some headphones that have partial noise cancellation so that you can either listen to soft music to help you focus or simply drown out some of the distracting background noise. Headphones can also act as a signal to your co-workers that you need to get your head down and can’t be disturbed right now (so long as you take them off afterwards!).
Take Lunch to Work
While taking some time out for lunch can be the refresher you need, stopping can also make you lose your productivity mojo. Avoid the travel time, queues or delays by taking your own lunch into work and you can also fill it with healthy brain food to help you concentrate. Taking lunch can be a blessing if you simply don’t have enough time for a full lunch break as you have food available to you, reducing the temptation of skipping eating, which will lower your productivity.
Listen to Research
Audio books can help to make research and other materials more accessible to you when you are on the go. For projects with a lot of research it can also help to stop eye strain and avoid dead time, for example during your commute.
Are you a micro manager? That needs to change. Having the confidence and trust to hand over tasks to other members of your team can free up a ton of time and energy for yourself to get other tasks done. Specifically minor admin tasks and contacting suppliers are easy yet time consuming tasks, so hand them off to an assistant or office help so that you can focus on something that needs your true expertise.
Innovation and originality can be essential when planning events so if you find yourself struggling, set aside time to brainstorm and think outside the box before deciding on the winning ideas. Collaborate with others, go off on tangents, no matter how off the wall an idea sounds it should be shared. Brainstorms work particularly well on larger pieces of paper when you are physically writing them out, it’s a kinesthetic process.
Break Tasks Down
Sometimes the worse part about approaching a larger task is the sheer size of it is off putting and can lead to demotivation and generally just avoiding getting started. Breaking it up into bitesize chunks that are easier and less intimidating to manage will help you get started.
Avoid travel times, delays and meetings going over by having meetings over the phone or video chat. Skype and other software can be a valuable tool to help you have meetings from your own desk. This both saves time and improves productivity and makes it easier to stay focused because the human element is not there.
Here’s an obvious one, but it still gets ignored! Prioritizing tasks can help to save time and ensure that you meet those goals we were talking about earlier. If you have a larger project that is important but spans a few days/weeks, make sure you dedicate small amounts of time each day to work on it as this will stop you from getting behind.
Tidy Desk, Tidy Mind
Being able to easily access your documents, stationery and other equipment will help you to be organized. In addition to this, a tidy workspace can help to clear your mind. When a work area is overly messy it can create a chaotic atmosphere and make it seem more busy and rushed than ever!
Turn off your Notifications
If you have dedicated time to a task then turn the notifications off on your phone or desktop, this will help you to focus, avoid distractions and taking on another task before you’ve completed the job at hand (sound familiar?).
Try to group similar tasks together to avoid the time wasting of jumping from one area to another. For example, if you have some phone calls to make, do them at once or dedicate a set period to clearing your email inbox. Similarly, filing paperwork or forms once a day will stop you from walking excessively around the office. Try to think of other tasks you can do when you are leaving your desk, maybe you need to print something out on the way to the coffee machine. This way you are multi-tasking and avoiding wasting any precious minute.
Why not dictate notes while you are on the go for quick reference or to be typed up by your virtual assistant, team admin or fast touch typist if you have access to these services or skills.
10 Minute Meetings
Aim to have 10 minute meetings to focus everyone's attention and keep things short, productive and on topic without wasting too much time. Sounds drastic maybe but cutting meetings in half really works!
Overcome Mental Blocks
Staring at a blank screen or pile of paperwork can be both time consuming and frustrating and let’s be honest, no one likes a mental block. A key tactic is to use a notepad to write out your thoughts and use a writing technique called free writing. For 2-3 minutes physically write out whatever comes to mind, don’t force it (it doesn’t even have to make sense) and this can help to free you up mentally to overcome the block.
Shift an Hour
Try adjusting your working hours by one hour earlier or later, depending on your preference. This can help increase your productivity and avoid distractions, as well as avoiding the rush hour commute. Coming in earlier or staying later means that there will be fewer people or distractions around you. Finding the right balance to suit you is key!
Tech for Meeting Notes
Documenting progress and actions from meetings is important but have you ever wished your meeting notes could be magically typed up for you? Maybe a futuristic gadgets and apps like these could be the answer. Or consider recording and having the notes transcribed for you. Although these items cost money, how much is this worth to you to concentrate on other things?
There’s an App for That
Technology is there for a reason so use it to its fullest potential to suit you. For example using Pomodoro and Evernote to help you get things done or one of the many to do list applications. Either way don’t be afraid to use them if they help you get things done.
Not knowing how to start or approach a task can leave you avoiding it until the last minute which can impact on the rest of your workload. Try to outline a task with some brief notes or headings and then start to fill in the gaps. If you get stuck on one area you can move on to another. Outlining can help you to process it in your mind and makes things flow more easily to avoid writer's block.
Many people find it difficult to focus completely on tasks longer than 20 minutes at a time. If you schedule needs you to get a solid hour in then use a reward method. Promise yourself a tea break or biscuit once you reach a certain milestone. For larger projects promise to do something fun after work or buy yourself something nice once the work is completed. Sometimes having a direct benefit to your task can motivate you short-term to push through and get it done!
Ultimately, for busy event planners every minute is precious, particularly when juggling pressing deadlines. Hopefully within these 25 tactics you have found some inspiration for saving time and getting things done better and smarter.
What tips would you add to the list?