How Event Professionals Can Better Prioritize in 5 Simple Steps
For event planners, tight deadlines and long to-do lists come with the territory. A fast-paced environment with countless tasks is simply unavoidable for this line of work. However, the point is not to steer clear of the challenges. In fact, the best event planners thrive under pressure and they are able to do so because they have a clear and actionable game plan. One of the key components to a creating such a game plan is an effective system of prioritization. Here are 5 tips that will help you better prioritize your workload and insure event success.
Establish S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Yes, having “smart” goals sounds a bit obvious but that's not what we mean here. In this case, S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Achievable”, “Results-focused”, and “Time-bound.”
Specific - The more specific the goal is, the more clearly you'll be able to communicate it and thus delineate the necessary steps to achieving it. Being laser-focused in your objectives also makes it easier for you to gauge whether you are staying on pace to reach said objective.
Measurable - All goals should ideally be quantifiable. This way you are able to measure how close or far you are from getting there. The metric may be in the form of percentages, deadlines, or costs. Whatever goal you choose, it will serve you best if they can be represented in numerical form.
Achievable - Shooting for the stars is a great mindset to have but it should not be at the expense of proper execution. Set both a target goal and a high goal so that you have something realistic to work towards while also leaving open the possibility of achieving beyond your expectations.
Results-oriented - Goals should measure results, not activities. For example, while it may feel good to launch a email marketing campaign to 500 prospects, the efforts don't amount to much if the result is no registrations or RSVP's. Thus, it's important to focus on the results you are hoping to achieve so you can tailor your efforts accordingly.
Time-bound - All goals need deadlines. Without an expected date of completion, the task could easily fall through the cracks and before you know it, it's too late to deliver on the objective. So to avoid such circumstances, always have deadlines for your goals and make sure they are clearly communicated to the relevant stakeholders.
By establishing goals based on this criteria, the overall event objective will be much clearer to articulate, which in turn makes it easier for you to prioritize which tasks will contribute directly to your goals. In other words, S.M.A.R.T. goals = smart prioritization.
2) Differentiate Between “Important” And “Urgent”
Understanding the difference between these two concepts is the crux of any good prioritization strategy. While these two words may seem synonymous, often times that is not the case. Many people have a difficult time prioritizing because they conflate these two and ultimately end up focusing too much on the wrong things. To have a better understanding between the difference between “important” and “urgent”, let's take a look at the Eisenhower decision matrix.
Here we see that our focus should always be on the important tasks. More specifically, tasks that are both important and urgent are the ones that deserve the majority of our focus. The way to clearly understand which tasks are important is by assessing the amount of value that the task will contribute to your overarching event goal. The clearer your objective, the easier it is to determine which tasks are important and which ones are not. Having the right event key performance indicators (KPIs) established will also help you ascribe urgency and importance.
3) Think Timelines, Not To-Do Lists
Now that your tasks are in order and the game plan is set, it's time to set deadlines. Many people fall into the misconception that outlining a to-do list is the most important part of being productive. Yes, listing out the details is a crucial first step, but it is only the first step. You have to set specific deadlines in order to ensure progress is being made. Setting deadlines also forces you to understand which tasks must be completed before others which is another form of prioritizing. Timelines keep you and your team accountable for deliverables.
4) Focus Your Energy On One Task At A Time
Multitasking has proven to be more unproductive than people believe and in the case of event planning where there are a million and one things to do, having a singular focus is crucial for maximum productivity. Instead of trying to do twelve things at once, be intentional and concentrated with your energy. This does not mean you should limit your workload to one or two tasks a day. Rather, focus on separate tasks for 1 hour intervals each. This way you can devote complete focus and energy per individual task while still achieving high level productivity.
However, if you find that you're unable to avoid the need to multitask, form a team with which you can share the workload. Following the same idea as having a one-track focus, make sure each team member is accountable for a specific scope of responsibilities to ensure single-minded specialization. This way, each team member will be focusing on one task at a time simply by the design of workflow.
You can event use a project management tool like Trello, Asana or Basecamp to help you out. Below is an example of a Trello template that we designed for event professionals:
5) Reassess The Plan Regularly
As we've discussed, event planning can be a chaotic and hectic endeavor. With so many moving parts, things tend to change quickly and you have to adapt constantly. Having weekly check-ins to reassess your plan is a great way to make sure your team is staying on track to achieve all major goals. Reassessing may also mean reevaluating priorities, which is completely fine. Priorities are not meant to be set in stone. As unexpected situations arise, being able to readjust your needs is critical to event success. Check-in with your team at the beginning and end of each week to make sure everyone is at an efficient working pace. This will ensure that the event planning timeline is steadily progressing and that everyone is staying focused on the most important tasks.
Knowing how to allocate your time and energy is a crucial skill to achieve event success. Amidst a fast paced and overwhelming event planning process, effective prioritization is one of the few factors that event planners have control over. As the saying goes, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” For event planners, proper prioritization is that 90%. As long as sufficient energy and focus is devoted to creating a sound plan for prioritization, a successful event will become an inevitable result.
Stephen is a Content Marketing Strategist at Bizzabo. Launched in July 2012, Bizzabo is the world's first event success software. It helps organizers create successful events by empowering them to build amazing websites, manage event registration, grow communities, go mobile and maximize event experiences - using a beautiful, user-friendly platform.