10 Signs Event Planning is Burning You Out

There are those who thrive on the pressures of a high-stress job.  And there are those who don’t. If you’re an event professional, it’s likely you’re not the latter as managing events is anything but stress-free. In fact, CareerCast’s 2019 survey found that event planning is the 6th most stressful job – after policemen, firefighters, pilots and military personnel!  And that the most common stress factor across the board was having to deal with frequent, hard deadlines.

The worrying thing, of course, is that with continued stress comes burnout.  And this is where you need to pay attention.  How many times have you found it difficult not to think about work when home?  Or had difficulties in concentration or motivation?  How often do you feel completely exhausted in the run up to your event?  These are common symptoms of burnout and you shouldn’t get into a habit of ignoring them.  It will not only affect your performance but can be detrimental to your mental health.

We came across a very interesting article on Forbes.com, outlining some of the most important signs of burnout we need to watch out for and what we can do to alleviate stress.  We found it very insightful and decided to share some of the main highlights.  Have a look.

What is Burnout?

So what does burnout really mean? Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially added ‘burnout’ to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Here’s how they are defining it:

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions:

1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

2) increased mental distance or feelings of negativism/cynicism of one’s job

3) reduced professional efficacy

Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

Are you Burnt Out? 10 Signs to Watch Out For

The article quotes American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD, who says “A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress. In those situations, the demands being placed on you exceed the resources you have available to deal with the stressors.”

It seems left unchecked, burnout can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships and job performance. So in order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for.

Have a look at these 10 signs that suggest you may be experiencing burnout:

1. Constant Exhaustion

The article suggests that one of the most obvious signs of burnout is when you feel tired all the time.  And this exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical.  It’s the sense of not having any energy and feeling completely spent.

2. Lack of Concentration

The article suggests that when we’re stressed, our attention starts focusing more on negative elements we perceive as threats. This tunnel vision can negatively affect your ability to solve problems or make decisions. You might find that you’re more forgetful and have a harder time remembering things.

3. Lack of Motivation

When you’re not feeling enthusiastic about anything anymore or you feel you’re lacking that internal motivation for work, there’s a good chance you’re burnt out.  You may find it harder to get going in the mornings and drag yourself into work every day.

4. Slipping Productivity

Compare your job performance now to your performance in previous years.  Were you getting a lot more done before?  Because burnout tends to happen over a long period of time, doing this kind of comparison can help reveal whether you’re just in a temporary slump or experiencing more chronic burnout.

5. Thinking About Work…When You’re Not at Work

This is something most event planners complain about. Even if you might not be working when home in the evening, doing things like responding to emails will interfere with your ability to recover from the stresses of the day.  You need time to yourself after the actual task stops – and time when you stop thinking about that task altogether.

6. Frustration and Other Negative Emotions

You may feel like your job and what you do doesn’t matter that much anymore.  You may feel more pessimistic than you used to.  And while these symptoms are normal from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.

7. More Interpersonal Problems

You may find yourself having more conflicts and arguments with other people.  Or you may go the complete other way where you withdraw and avoid talking to colleagues and family members.  You may even find that when you are conversing with them, you’re mentally tuned out.

8. Neglecting Yourself

If you’re suffering burnout, you may engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep. Self-medication is another issue and could include things like relying on sleeping pills to sleep or drinking more alcohol to de-stress.

9. Less Overall Satisfaction

This is when you feel less happy with your career and personal life.  You might feel dissatisfied or even stuck when it comes to whatever is going on at work, home or your social activities.

10. Health Problems

Burnout can have negative implications on your health.  Serious chronic stress can create real medical problems like depression, obesity, digestive issues and heart disease.

How Event Planners Can Tackle Burnout

We talked about how event organisers can reduce stress in a recent article, titled ‘8 Steps to Wellbeing for Event Planners’.   It covered things like healthy eating, sleeping well and taking screen breaks.  In addition to these things, the Forbes article suggests some other things you can do if you recognise any of the symptoms we mentioned above.  Have a look:

1. Take Relaxation Seriously

Think of something you enjoy doing and which helps you relax. Whether it’s going for a run, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or meditating, designate time for it and make it part of your daily/weekly routine.

2. Do More with Your Non-Work Life

Find something outside of work that you’re passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and gives you a sense of achievement.  It may be a hobby, sports or even doing a bit of volunteering work in your local community.

3. Unplug Your Devices

Like we mentioned earlier, checking emails at home after work is not going to help you beat stress.  Not just that, but it can also allow the impact of stress seep into your family time and social activities.  Set yourself come clear boundaries by turning off your phone once you get home or delegating specific times to check emails.

4. Get Organised

When experiencing burnout, you will often find yourself spending a lot of time worrying that you’ve forgotten to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks.  Again, a feeling that many event planners can relate to.  Get organised, clear your head, put together a to-do list, then prioritise.  If you set a deadline for yourself, then this will help you avoid procrastination and ultimately work more effectively in the time you have.

5. Use Event Technology

Technology like event management systems can help too.  For example, are you creating your event agendas on Excel Spreadsheets?  A programme management tool can do this for you and save you an enormous amount of time and stress making endless changes to speakers and session content. Are you manually collating and uploading all the attendance data you have collected on your barcode scanners?  Again, a self-service check-in solution can do this for you automatically, saving you time – and stress.

6. Stay Attuned

It’s important to tune into the physical signs that show you may be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stick neck or frequent stomach aches.  In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression.  And if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout.  So it goes both ways.  If the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need professional support beyond just your friends and family members.

7. Figure Out When Enough is Enough

Consider talking to your manager or HR department about any mental health benefits or stress management training – or at least about how to improve communication and create a better, more positive work environment.  Steer the conversation to how these cultural shifts will help you continue to do your job and become an even better employee.  You may find that no matter what you try to do, your organisation may be unwilling to make changes.  In which case, it may just be time to move on.


Want to learn more about how you can improve your productivity and become a more organised event planner?  We’ve got two great blogs for you to read:

8 Time-Wasting Habits Event Planners Should Quit

Good time-management is an essential skill for event planners.  But whether it’s procrastination, personal distractions or tasks that take up a lot more time than they should, there are many things that waste our time every day. And wasted time means rushed deadlines, a work-life imbalance and more stress and anxiety.  Have a look at our top eight tips that hell improve your time-management skills when planning and managing events.

10 Things Mentally Strong Event Planners Don’t Do

Why do some event planners accomplish their goals, while others don’t? It may surprise you that talent and intelligence doesn’t play nearly as big a role as you think.  In fact, research studies have found that intelligence only accounts for 30% of overall professional achievement.  What makes a bigger impact than talent and intelligence?  Mental strength.  Find out what defines mental strength and what are some of the things you need to stop doing to become a mentally strong event planner.


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