(Editor's Note: One of our favorite guest contributors, Jennifer Taylor of Taylor'd Events, is back today to share her productivity wisdom with our readers! Learn more about Jennifer at the end of the post!)
When it seems that there are a million and one things to do, it can be easy to get discouraged – especially if you don’t organize your time well. Many event professionals are challenged by a constant barrage of emails, site visits, meetings, and the like – in fact, you’d be hard put to find someone who wouldn’t admit that they could be more productive. Even the most industrious ones are still looking for ways to shave a few minutes off their daily tasks because, as we all know, every second counts!
Staying productive is a matter of mind more than anything – it requires commitment and self-discipline, meaning it’s a goal anyone can achieve. Oftentimes, people attribute productivity to the ability to multi-task but let’s keep in mind that ‘multi-tasking’ doesn’t exist. Instead, what is perceived as multi-tasking is actually your brain going back and forth from one subject to another – perhaps the least productive thing you could do.
Rather than try to balance five tasks at once, focus on one at a time. Keep an ongoing to-do list with deadlines that keep you on top of what needs to be done. We use Wunderlist, an app that allows us to create separate to-do lists for different things (think clients, social media, personal, etc.) and add deadlines so we know what’s most important. Never let a to-do go without a due date – that way, you’ll get it done in time no matter what.
The key to a successful to-do list is to keep it manageable. Don’t overload yourself with too many tasks for one day or else you’ll start to feel overwhelmed. When you’re working on a day’s task, don’t get discouraged by looking at the next day or the next week – keep your eye on the game and finish up what needs to be done that day.
With to-do list in hand, mark the top two or three things that must get done that day and block out time for all of them. We’ve found it handy to set a phone timer to complete a task, turning off anything that could be a distraction. This method can work differently for everyone – for example, I like to work in chunks of 50 minutes while my partner-in-crime does short sprints of 20 minutes at a time with five-minute breaks. Find what works for you and stick to it!
With that said, sometimes you need to give yourself incentives. I like to do this by setting myself easy tasks that will motivate me as I check them off, even if it’s just checking off a to-do in the morning to shower. The simple gesture of crossing it off the list is enough to get me in the right mindset for the day.
Sometimes, it’s not your office work that seems to suck up your time. That’s right – we’ve all had to deal with a difficult client that tries to control your time. While their needs may have merit, there comes a point where their demands get in the way of other work that needs to be done. This is best combatted from the beginning as you set expectations when you start working together. Clarify boundaries ahead of time so there’s no confusion. Let them know when it’s acceptable to text, when to expect to hear back on weekends, and how often you can meet with them. That way, they know what is to be expected and, if they step over the boundaries, you can simply remind them of your agreement.
Unfortunately, in some cases, it’s not that easy. If a client gets too challenging to handle and continues to push the limits, don’t be afraid to end the contract and move on. At the end of the day, the loss of their business will be worth avoiding the loss of time and effort allotted to other clients – and the added bonus is that you’ll regain your sanity.
Productivity doesn’t have to be a difficult feat. With a few simple tweaks to your daily routine, you’re sure to find what works best for you to stay on top of things!
Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.