Hey, event pros! Need some help managing your time commitments? Here are some tips that work for me, and I think they’ll work for you too.
As event pros, you’re perpetually pulled between many competing needs. There’s managing new leads, marketing your event business, client meetings, a crowded inbox, and your actual work at the event. It’s no wonder event pros burn out often.
Why Managing Your Time Commitments Matters
Even if you’re superhumanly productive and stress-resilient, you should improve your time management skills. Whether it’s your sanity or the impression you leave clients, the better you juggle your commitments, the better your business will be.
When you take steps to improve your time management, you end up solving the following problems:
When you’re constantly chasing work equilibrium, you’ll end up fatigued. This could be physical exhaustion due to running around from appointments to meetings to events. You’ll also get struck by mental fatigue due to the strain of constant discombobulation.
2. Letting People Down
It’s inevitable. When you run yourself ragged, you’ll let things slip. You’ll be late to critical meetings, miss deadlines, and frustrate your colleagues and clients.
3. Appearance of Unprofessionalism
Even if you don’t drop the ball, being frazzled shows. People can sense it. Ultimately you risk leaving people with an impression of unprofessionalism. It’s an awful irony that overwork and extreme dedication to your craft might ruin a reputation. And when it comes to events, clients expect to see an air of effortless control.
4. Losing Referrals
All of the above makes people hesitant to recommend you to other clients. Better time management leads to more referrals or, at the very least, won’t deter happy clients from recommending your services.
Common Reasons You’re Overwhelmed & Overcommitted
Before we get into solutions, I think we ought to discuss why you’re actually over-committed in the first place. What issues lead to event pros juggling too many time commitments and struggling with time management?
We have the impression that entrepreneurial event pros should be excellent multi-taskers. And yes, sometimes the job itself requires it. But it’s actually a really lousy way to get things done. Multi-tasking is a productivity killer.
Leaping From Task to Task
When you’re working on your business blog, then rush off to an event design meeting, then switch to editing photos of the previous event, you wreck your focus. Yes, event pros, like all small business owners, have to wear many hats. But it’s impossible to be genuinely productive when you move from task to unrelated task.
Travel Time Between Meetings
Online meetings don’t cut it in many instances in the event industry. There are venue walkthroughs, menu tasting, client meetings, designs to inspect, and other tactile, in-person jobs. The travel time is almost entirely unproductive (and tiring).
Hurry Up & Wait Moments
As event pros, you’re barraged with hurry-up-and-wait moments. These are when you’re waiting for a client to call you back, a meeting to begin, a vendor to send over a design, or a colleague to complete a task. These moments waste a lot of time and ruin concentration. I find hurry-up-and-wait moments work the same way that procrastination does. They prevent me from meaningfully starting tasks.
Solutions: How To Manage Too Many Time Commitments
There’s no one solution. Sorry. The below ideas will chisel away at the feeling of being stretched too thin and will help limit your time commitments. Test out the best ideas that seem to fit your personality.
1. Lead Qualification
Simple. Better lead qualification will drastically reduce unprofitable meetings. The easiest way to qualify potential clients is to consider what generally leads to a failure to close the deal. Is it budget? Or design preferences? Maybe it’s location. If you ask for this information up-front, you’ll be able to catch clients that won’t fit before you invest your time meeting with them.
2. Limit Meetings To Specific Days
This tip is amazingly effective. When I began limiting Zoom and in-person meetings to specific days, I recovered huge amounts of time throughout my week. It limits disruptive travel during your workweek and allows you to better plan downtime too.
Pro-tip: Use scheduling tools like Calendly or Smart Annie (I use both) to stay organized and disciplined. When you let your clients to colleagues only choose from clearly constrained time blocks, you ensure you don’t cave and book meetings when you should be focusing on other work.
3. Use Task Lists To Stay Organized
I might be a little biased regarding event planning task lists, but hear me out. If you’re keeping a list of to-dos with precise due dates, you’re better able to manage your time. You can make informed decisions to decline time commitments that would make you miss deadlines. Or you can shuffle around less critical deadlines. But a task list allows you to make decisions with confidence and help you healthily manage your workload.
4. Keep Detailed Notes
I’ll never forget a bride telling me she was worried when her wedding planner didn’t take notes. So the bride often requested calls to check-in, confirm details and talk, simply to set her mind at ease. So if you find your clients require more meetings than you’d like, try this. Take notes and, after meetings, send a summary of the notes to your clients. They’ll feel more confident and will ask for fewer meetings.
5. Use Client Portals
When clients can access event information by themselves and have a space they can do asynchronous work, they’ll need fewer meetings. That’s why client portals are so effective when working in events. Clients can comment on the schedule, see progress, share design ideas, and more. And they prefer using portals too because they can collaborate at their convenience. See, your clients are also overcommitted and overwhelmed too and want to cut down on meetings, just like you do.
6. Timebox Commitments
This one is difficult but highly effective. See, almost every meeting runs long. Meetings drag on, whether you’re meeting clients in person or discussing ideas over Zoom. You claw back tons of time by setting a very firm timebox for the time commitment and sticking to it.
7. Set Expectations And Scope
Setting boundaries is a common problem during the event planning phase. The best time to set these boundaries is right at the start – even before the proposal is accepted.
Let clients know that you only respond during business hours. Explain how you handle after-hours requests. And explain just how much time they’re getting from you. You likely won’t even need to decline meetings since they’ll often know not to ask. Of course, there are always exceptions and emergencies. Still, setting scope and expectations upfront will minimize additional time commitments.
8. Time Tracking To See Where You’re Wasting Time
Time tracking ensures your event business can be profitable while maintaining a functional work-life balance. In particular, event pros and event planners struggle with always being available to clients. By tracking your time, you’ll see which tasks and clients push you to over-commit. Then you can reset boundaries.
9. Routine Creates Stability
I’ve saved the best tip for last. If you’d like to manage too many time commitments, then create a work routine. Here’s what I mean by routine. Tackle certain tasks on specific days. For example, Fridays are for meetings, Mondays are for marketing your business. Tuesdays are for vendor sourcing, while Wednesdays are for client updates. You get exponentially better at scheduling meetings and other time-intensive commitments when you create a routine. This rule changed my life and it’ll change yours!
Managing Too Many Time Commitments Is A Professional Skill
Like you need to track your profits and losses, managing your time commitments is an essential business skill that will impact your bottom line. It’s worth working on, and it’ll pay off in both profit margins and mental health.