Event professionals are some of the most busiest and talented people in the world. They bear the constant pressure of getting events planned, rooms blocked, space managed, and transportation arranged so that their customers can have an invigorating experience from the time that they hear about an event, to the time the event ends. But the push to get events planned can launch planners into a tailspin of overwhelming tasks to complete. Enter the crazy busy.
The reoccurring wheel of “busy” from inquiry to execution can be daunting. And if event planners and professionals aren’t careful to handle their desks with intentionality, they can be caught up in running after tasks that don’t really make a big impact on the overall goals and objectives of their events. So what can an event planner do if they are caught in this dilemma?
Zena Everett, author of Crazy Busy Cure offers many suggestions in her book, and the Pop-Up Book Club, was able to dive into many of these hidden gems. If you struggle with being crazy busy, Zena offers many opportunities for you to stay on task and be as productive as you can be. Here are 5 of my favorites:
Chase antelopes, not field mice
When looking at the amount of time in your day, focus on the big, high-value, essential tasks to complete. Yet many event professionals can get caught up in answering countless emails, phone calls, and even attending meetings upon meetings before they can even make a pretty effective dent in what is needed the most.
So chasing antelopes, you see, is focusing on the task that is of the biggest priority at hand. And those tasks can be different from day to day. For context, Zena explains, that when a lion goes after its prey, it chases antelopes. It doesn’t focus on the field mice. The lion spends its time focusing on the antelopes, and when they have caught its prey, they chill out and recover. They don’t focus on field mice as it distracts them from their overall goal.
If you are a planner, it is important to focus on your most important task, the task that is high value, instead of managing the smaller phone calls and emails that can distract you. You want to “ruthlessly prioritize important work”. When you do, you can check off a major goal, and move projects forward thus helping many in your circle.
PIMP your time
What you put on your calendar is how you will spend your time. For example, if your calendar is filled with back-to-back meetings, then you’ll end up no doubt going from meeting to meeting. Why? Because that is how you blocked your calendar, thus the intention that you set. A suggestion is to block space for your action items in your calendar too. Doing this will allow you to see your priorities at hand, and will help encourage you to do the items that are listed in your calendar at the timed slot that you chose to complete them.
When you are being hyper-intentional about your time, Zena calls this, in her book Crazy Busy Cure, PIMPing your time. What exactly does this mean? Well, it means getting the most out of it by putting the priorities on your calendar and committing to getting them done.
P – Identify your priority
I – Insert the task in your calendar
M – Be mean-commit to doing the task
P – Add a prompt to trigger you to do the task
We all have the same amount of time in the day, so progress is all about how we manage the time that we have to give. Sit down and really evaluate where your time is spent, and reallocate it so that you are ensuring your priorities are meant. Don’t forget to schedule time for you to take a break, have lunch, go on a walk, and celebrate the tasks that you do complete.
Ditch the phone (and other social media)
Have you ever rolled out of bed with your first thought of being your phone? How often do you check your phone in a day? Social media and overall phone usage are a serious threat to productivity, not to mention the underestimated damage to your mental health. Smartphones are a source for us to stay connected with each other, however, they also harness an abundance of knowledge that we happen to have at our fingertips.
Some interesting stats from Crazy Busy Cure include a study in 2016 that discussed the average amount of time Facebook said that each of its users spent on its platforms. Although that amount has indeed gone up by then, this represents about 1/16th of the average users waking time spent on Facebook. So this means that you’re spending time on a device that is created for you to spend your time on it. People touch their phones an average of 2617 times per day. The top 10 percent of users’ number doubled to 5427 touches per day. Just having your phone next to you can be a huge problem and contribute to a reduction in focus and productivity.
Toss perfection out the door
We all know that in the event industry, there are very high expectations that everything goes flawlessly. That events are perfect, flawless in their execution, and that they deliver service standards that supersede the previous one every single year. But realistically, we need to give ourselves a little bit of grace. We can’t hold everything that we do at such a high level so that is brings shame to ourselves, and it comes at a cost of burnout. We have to understand that sometimes our best is good enough and constantly striving for more could hurt us rather than help. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t put out amazing events that inspire – but does mean that we should allow space for imperfections. We may find that those imperfections bring a character to your event that is invaluable.
Don’t be a Busy Bully
This can be a little touchy subject for most. Because we all love what we do. We can’t imagine a world where we aren’t planning meetings and events. Planning events can be draining, but it can be equally as rewarding.
Yet there is a specific character that Zena Everett focuses on in Crazy Busy Cure – Crazy Busy Bully. The Crazy Busy Bully is someone that should be noted and observed. This is the leader (or customer) that is potentially calling at all hours of the night, sending late-night emails, setting up weekend deadlines, tramping all over your work-life boundaries, and pushes you until you are on the verge of a break.
If you have experienced this, then you could have a crazy busy bully on your hands. Zena’s book really went into some great detail about how you can apply specific skills in order to get yourself out of these sticky situations so that you can work in peace with a demanding leader or customer. A few good ones to note:
Don’t take it personally – many times, these situations are where the crazy busy bully isn’t able to put in place boundaries themselves, or they are dealing with other challenges that you can’t, unfortunately, help them with.
Don’t let them know you see them – Never let them know that you can see through their mask into who they really are.
Take responsibility for yourself – Many times there are co-dependent relationships at the workplace. And this is because you allow and enable the bully-like behavior to continue.
Get out – If you are in a situation that you aren’t able to apply some good tactics to control, or it is just too much for you, then it may be time for you to get out.
Wave a red flag to Burnout
Burnout is so prevalent in the event industry. Even bigger is that burnout is contributing to a bigger mental health crisis in our world today post-pandemic. If you are feeling used up at the end of the day, increasingly cynical and critical, or even disappointed that you didn’t get picked for a layoff, then you may be headed or currently in burnout.
It’s wise to be alert to early signs of burnout in yourself and in your colleagues. “Burnout is when we feel overwhelmed, exhausted, mentally and physically tired.” says Zena Everett. When you’re working and in a state of flow, the good stress that results in dopamine and endorphins can be a natural fit. However, when that stress turns into continuous tough stress in your life, it can eat up your time, and can eventually cause you harm. Much research has been done to show the effects of negative stress on your life, and for those people, there is an increase in their mortality rates. The point here is to be able to identify the signs of burnout and make key changes to turn these signs around so that you can be happier and healthier at work.
There were so many other good gems hidden in the Crazy Busy Cure. I invite you to pick it up and let me know what your thoughts are as you read it. If you enjoy reading and believe that reading helps you understand how you can be a better person, then you may be a good fit for the Planners on Purpose Book Club. I’d love to see you there.