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Preparing for an event is often exhausting and stressful, and sleepless nights are unfortunately all too common for eventprofs in the days leading up to big events. Here are some tips that can help you get some extra ZZZs.
Sleep is essential for productivity and awareness. Stop thinking about sleep as a waste of time and understand it is a necessary way to fuel yourself up, and much better than surviving on caffeine. Sure, often it seems like there aren’t enough hours in a day, but to be fully alert on the big day you need to make sure you get some sleep.
Avoid Sleep-Disrupting Activities
Caffeine remains in your system for 4-6 hours so don’t drink any coffee or other energy drinks in the hours leading up to your bedtime. Consider swapping to herbal teas and smoothies which can give a short term boost to your energy levels without stopping you sleeping. Try a spinach, kale, cucumber and celery mix!
Alcohol is a major sleep disrupter and will wake you up regularly during the night. Just sleeping is not enough for you to be productive the next day: you need quality and heavy sleep, so avoid any disruptive substances before bed.
Like alcohol, you might think that a heavy meal will make you go to sleep faster, but it will actually have bad consequences on your sleep quality. Your body will work harder to digest heavy food and will not get the rest it needs. Spicy or acidic food produce similar consequences.
Cut Off Point
Give a clear cut off point to your clients, speakers, performers so they know that you will have unplugged by a certain time. If necessary chase up any outstanding last minute information again throughout the day and let them know that you have to have it by say 4pm (a deadline a couple of hours ahead of your real actual cut off time).
Then put your out of office response on and turn off your computer. If there is a real emergency people should have your mobile contact number and for peace of mind you can check your messages via your mobile. Without clear guidelines boundaries can be pushed and clients emailing at midnight asking you to print things and speakers sending through a new version of their presentation at 6am is not conducive to a calm mind.
Focus on the Event at Hand
On the live event day it is important to focus wholeheartedly at the project to hand. Try to banish your other event projects from your mind to give 100% to the day ahead. This dedication is only fair to yourself, the event, your boss and client.
Last Minute Organization
There is nothing worse than having urgent things to do at the last minute before your event. A stress-free evening should ideally be part of your preparation leading up to the event, to ensure you are ready to focus and give your best. Strive to clear anything you still have to do before a set time, such as 8pm. After that, draw a line under everything, try to cut off from work and carve some time for yourself to clear your mind and wind down.
But I’m Not Done!
If something isn’t done at this stage you have to realize that you are out of time and live with it or come up with a contingency plan. Perfectionists we may be but if we are honest a lot of the small detail we put into the event isn’t always noticed by our guests anyway. Hopefully everything critical will have been completed in good time and although you want to little finishing touches to be perfect, sleep becomes a more important goal.
Set Up a Favourable Environment
Once you are done with work, or at least 2 hours before going to bed, turn off any blue-light electronic devices that might surround you. This includes cell phones, tablets, TVs and computer screens. The blue light emitted by these devices blocks your melatonin production, which is essential to your sleep.
Exercising will help clear your mind and get you ready for bed. It is important to exercise at least 6 hours before going to sleep, as your body temperature will be high and it needs to be low to promote sleep. Energetic activities are great to let off steam and tire your body ready for bed. Slow-paced exercise such as Pilates might however give you too many opportunities to over think and not enough to unwind.
Reading/Listening to Music
Once you’re all prepared for the event ahead, try to clear your mind by focusing on something more soothing or entertaining to divert your thoughts. Grabbing a light, entertaining book or listening to relaxing music might calm you and allow you to let off steam.
Back Yourself Up
Choose the Right Time to Wake Up
Don’t wake up too early if you are already on site. Being there too early is not always a good idea, as you will be fidgeting waiting for people to show up which can be frustrating and make you nervous. The best way to choose the right time to wake up is by working back your schedule, adding in some extra-time for security.
Leave Plenty of Travel Time
Always add in plenty of extra travel time to account for any unplanned disruption to your journey. Think about what would happen if the route was blocked, your car broke down or public transport wasn’t running. Make sure your team are not all coming from the same direction in case there is some major catastrophe you couldn’t anticipate.
Have you ever had trouble sleeping and slept fitfully because you feared missing your alarm clock? Make sure your mind is at rest by setting two (or more!) different alarm clocks. Place one at the other end of your bedroom so you have to go up to turn it off, and avoid falling into the snooze trap. If you need extra motivation, consider investing in a coffee maker alarm clock, which will brew fresh coffee as soon as your alarm goes off!
Be your own assistant and do everything in advance to avoid thinking about anything in the morning. Set your clothes aside, make sure everything is charged up, prepare your breakfast, pack your folder and bag, double check you have all the essentials and make a list of whatever needs to be done before you go out the door.
Despite implementing all these tips, you’re only human and might wake up in the middle of the night thinking about stuff that you omitted or that you’re afraid of forgetting the next day. Make sure you have a notepad and pen on your bedside table so you can write down any thoughts that pop up and get back to sleep again.
Take time to consider if you have any niggles that are bothering you. If you are worried about a specific element of the event think through how it will play out or what could possibly go wrong and how you would deal with it. This exercise can help calm and prepare you for the test ahead.
Eventprofs often suffer from sleep deprivation before an event, worrying that everything will go as planned and finishing off little last minute tasks. It is unbelievably to think that we can often survive on too little sleep and rely on our adrenaline reserves to get us through a long gruelling event day. Sleep is so important to be productive and to be at your best on the day of the event it needs to be made a priority in your pre-event schedule. Hopefully these tips will help you get some more sleep before your next big event day.
If you need more persuasion to understand the importance of sleep, TED.com have set up a special playlist of talks to inspire you to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.
Do you have other useful tips for getting a good night sleep before an event? How well do you sleep before a big project? Feel free to share in the comments below!