Putting First Things First

by Jul 16, 2014

With the many emails, phone calls, and IM’s that event planners decipher through all day, prioritizing our workload can be taxing. At times event planners can feel as though they are handling the most important thing on their desk. However, a closer look could show that what we all might view as a priority, isn’t a priority at all.

So, What is the real priority?

It can go against our will to work on things that aren’t urgent yet important. However, in order to be an effective event planner, working on the those “non-urgent yet important” situations can really place you ahead of the curve. Why? These tasks are the game-changers, the items that will place you or your organization on the right track, so why not shoot for them first? Because we adore procrastination. Often, there is a lot of lead-time to get these particular projects completed, yet it is the most important thing sitting on the desk. It’s the proposal, the new strategic plan, the team meeting agenda, major RFP, specs for city-wide convention, the (enter your item here), and the list can go on and on. It’s usually the item that falls to the bottom of the list on a typical work-day. Focusing and completing these tasks will move you forward.


Event planners have their share of fires. Every time we turn around, there is a fire to put out, people to save. However, if we aren’t careful, we can spend all of our time in the flames. That certainly isn’t the way it should be, and doesn’t feel good to be in the fire all of the time. It is understandable that when you initially try to change your priorities, that there might be a few of these fires that you need to extinguish before you move forward with the real priorities. Take a quick moment to put a damper on your urgent situations, and as quick as you can, jump into completing your “non-urgent yet important”  projects. You’ll be glad that you did.

Embrace the Change

In the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey shows how to adjust our habits to be effective. One of the ways he does this is through the time management matrix (shown below). You can use this matrix for your work as an event planner, but also for your life. It is beyond helpful in what it can help you accomplish.


Stephen Covey says that focusing on the priorities helps to “feed the opportunities and starve the problems”. It helps event planners think and work strategically. It also helps event planners to reorganize their workload accordingly to support the most important items to the organization. If these preventative problems are left unattended, the fires will come. And if you focus on the true priorities, then most of the “fires” go away. Here’s to changed priorities ahead!

How to you manage your time? Has the time management matrix worked for you? Leave your comment below to start the conversation!


Photo credit: Time Management Matrix by Ammon Beckstrom via Flickr


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