Event planning is stressful. Talk to any event planner and they will always have fifty tasks to juggle and not enough time to do them. Research also shows that event planning always comes in the top 3 to 5 most stressful jobs in the world (year after year!). So what can event planners do to reduce the stress? And what are the things they need to focus on when it comes to their wellbeing and mental health?
Have a look at our top 8 steps to wellbeing and stress management for event planners:
1. Do Not Skimp on Your Sleep
Sleep is natural and it is essential for our health and wellbeing. Poor quality sleep can lead to lack of concentration and possible long-term health difficulties. So it’s important that you get your sleep and that you get it enough. We know it can be tempting to cut short your sleep, especially when you’re working all hours in the run up to an event. After all a lot of people are depending on you to make the event a success. However, without enough sleep you are likely to experience problems the following day. You could become short-tempered and make poor decisions.
You really don’t want to be burning the candle at both ends. You already know how much sleep you need, so try to keep your normal sleep patterns on track as far as possible.
Related article: 10 things mentally strong event planners don’t do
2. Eat Well and Keep a Snack Box Handy
At events it can be difficult to make time for nutrition. After all, there are too many issues that need to be dealt with. Speakers need to be briefed, delegates need to be fed and there are always other people wanting your attention. You could decide to run your day on coffee and pastries, but that will only give you a short burst of energy and it’s rarely a recipe for success.
Apply a bit of self-care before your day kicks off. You can do this by planning what meals you will be able to get to and which snacks you can carry around with you. If there is one meal you absolutely have to make time for, that is breakfast. A good breakfast can set you up properly for the day ahead. It may require you to be up as soon as the breakfast service opens but it will be worth it. If you go to breakfast when everyone else is up, then you will be interrupted for sure. You could consider having porridge for breakfast as this lowers blood pressure and promotes healthy gut bacteria.
Another key piece of nutritional advice is that you have a ‘tuck box’ with you or close to you. That way you can be sure of grabbing a snack to help keep you going when you need it. Sometimes it can be hard for event planners to grab lunch and a tuck box helps ensure you have food to boost you throughout the day. In your tuck box you could have a mix of fruits (bananas are always good), protein energy balls, pumpkin seeds, boiled eggs, rice crackers etc. The choice is yours of course as to what ends up in your tuck box. What you are really looking for is food that will keep you working at an optimum level.
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3. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated throughout the day will always help your overall health. Unfortunately, however, there seems to be no consensus on how much or how often you need to drink to stay hydrated. Having said that, with water there is agreement. Therefore, you should drink lots of water to help you stay sharp and alert. We know the taste of water can be dull for some people. You can make it more palatable by adding slices of lemon (or other fruit that you like) or slices of cucumber to help flavour it up.
In addition to drinking water, you could make your own smoothies. And of course, you could always drink tea and coffee. There is some good news for event planners who live on coffee – contrary to the belief that tea and coffee do not help with hydration levels, a number of studies now conclude that caffeinated fluids are in fact good sources of helping stay hydrated.
4. Take Screen Breaks
It can be pretty easy to sit glued to your laptop or phone for long periods of time. After all, there are people you need to email, contracts that need to be checked. However, looking at screens all the time isn’t good for your well-being.
Put a conscious effort to get away from your PC or device. Move away and change your activity. It doesn’t need to be for long but break that period of staying locked to your screen. To help, you could set an alarm on your phone that pings every hour or so to remind you to take a break. There are also apps out there that can monitor your screen time for you.
When you are working on-site at an event you are likely to be moving around more than when you are office-based. However, whilst you may be walking from one end of the air-conditioned venue to the other, there is nothing like taking a screen break while getting some fresh air into your lungs to feel revitalised. Whether it is cold or warm outside, fresh air always blows away the cobwebs. It also helps sharpen the mind.
5. Use Tech for Event Management
There is always a hard way to do a task and an easy way to do it. Why would you choose to spend hours inputting manual information and transferring it from one spreadsheet to the next when software and systems enable you to do tasks at the click of a button? It may not be always be that simple but there is an awful lot of event technology that can help.
You may need to learn a new system and change some of your old habits but if that helps with your health and wellbeing then it’s worth your investment. Take a moment and have a think about the processes and tasks that you do daily, or weekly or monthly that could be automated. What are you doing that requires manual input but doesn’t need to? For example, are you creating agendas on Excel spreadsheets? A programme management tool can do this for you and save you an enormous amount of time when making changes to speakers and session content. Are you manually collating all the attendance data you’re your barcode scanners? Again, a self-service check-in solution like Eventsforce Kiosk can do this for your automatically, saving you time – and stress.
Have a look at all the technology you have at your disposal and work out how to make the most of it. In fact, the more you understand technology systems, the more you will be able to benefit from them.
6. Allow Enough Travel Time…and Add a Bit More!
There can be a tendency or even necessity to work at a fast pace. After all, it’s normal in the career of an event planner right? However, not allowing enough travel time can trip you up and increase your stress levels. You need to allow enough time for your trip without forgetting to factor in time for any connecting flights or rail journeys. Have a look at a map and establish how long it will take you from exiting the rail station, car park or airport to get to your venue. Local knowledge and wisdom can be invaluable, especially if you’re overseas. Have a chat with the destination operator to be sure of your facts.
When you arrive at your destination if you can give yourself some time (even if only briefly) before heading to your first appointment, you will feel much better for it. If someone in your team is booking your flights and making your appointments make sure they know your requirements.
7. Define Your Boundaries
If you haven’t already, then you should define boundaries as part of your day to day expectation management. This is as applicable to clients as well as with your colleagues, whether you are in the office or offsite running an event.
Do your colleagues expect you to be on call for them? If so, it would be good to determine just what your boundaries are. Then you can decide together what works for both of you. Remember they may leave for home once their day is over, but you could be working much longer.
Related article: 5 tips to connect with team members effectively
It’s important that your office can contact you in case of emergencies. However, to ensure your blood pressure doesn’t increase dramatically and that you can focus on the event fully, it’s best to manage these expectations before you leave your office. For client relationships, boundaries are just as important. Don’t forget to let clients know if you are not going to be accessible.
8. Dress Appropriately
In the office, it is easy to know what is acceptable – your dress code will be determined by whatever your organisations’ culture is. However, when you are on-site at an event, dress code becomes more challenging. You will of course be expected to be smart but having the right footwear is probably more important. You will likely be clocking up many steps (miles even) as you ensure the smooth operation of your event. That’s why it’s important you are comfortable on your feet.
You may need to move furniture, carry marketing materials, put up exhibition stands or similar. These tasks require you to wear clothing that will help you and not constrict you. Wearing a suit whilst carrying boxes or crates is not the best idea. Have a think about the tasks you will be doing and then think about the clothing and footwear you need. You can always keep your best outfit in a suit bag for when you might need it so that you can be ‘on show’ later that day.
The Importance of Wellbeing for Event Planners
Looking after your clients, team members and making sure the event is as good as it can be are all things that you will have your focus on. But in order to achieve your best, you need to pay attention to your own wellbeing.
Wellbeing is a big issue and it’s one that we all need to be aware of in the events industry. Using these steps and adding to them will help with your wellbeing and long-term health and productivity. Do it for yourself but also do it as an example for your colleagues. If they see you looking after yourself and consistently applying high standards, they will naturally begin to focus more on their own.
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