Cover image by Julia Wade Photography
Does busy season leave you feeling like you’re running in circles with hardly a moment to spare? There’s no denying that working in the event industry can be a grind, but it’s important to recognize when it becomes “too much.” While busyness might mean money in the bank, it can lead to overworking and burnout when pushed to the extreme.
“We often put ourselves on the back burner, thinking that serves others,” relates Amber Anderson of Refine for Wedding Planners. “In reality, we eventually fall apart and can't serve them, so shifting our mindset and permitting ourselves to have "me-time" goes a long way when we can remember that "me-time" is ultimately part of serving our clients.”
Simply put, a well-rested and healthy version of yourself is better for business.
When you address the overwhelm and exhaustion, you can show up feeling more energized, productive, and inspired, ready to give your clients the best you can offer. But when drained and depleted, your clients only get the bare minimum of what’s left.
So as the busy season continues, take a page out of these industry experts’ notes and use these practices to create space and find more flow in your day-to-day activities.
Get ahead of the curve.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you’re flying by the seat of your pants. So instead of living at the last minute, carve out some time to be proactive and plan for the future.
“We often feel stress and anxiety when we only short-term plan for the here and now,” explains Meredith Ryncarz, The Restart Specialist. “This can be done by having time to craft short-term planning calendars, mid-range (6 months out) calendars, and long-range calendars that are revisited with SMART goals each month.”
“When things are planned in advance, it reduces the overwhelm, and when the team feels like they understand the mission and vision for the upcoming events, they take ownership of it, which reduces the stress for all the event pros involved,” Ryncarz adds.
Yes, you will need to invest a chunk of your schedule upfront – and your time is at a premium. But know that every minute spent on future planning will save you from headaches down the road!
Image by Renee Lemaire Photography
Break down the overwhelm.
A large part of future planning is breaking down daunting projects into smaller, manageable tasks to spread out on your calendar.
Photographer Halie Child of By Halie recommends “focus[ing] on the smaller tasks within the larger task at hand. It’s going to feel daunting to look at the big picture of all the work that needs to happen. So break your larger tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Each sub-task is a victory in itself and leads you closer to the end of the larger tasks you’re tackling.”
As Child explains, “shifting your mindset from focusing on everything that needs to be done to each little accomplishment you make along the way will create a huge mental shift for getting beyond the overload of work.”
Applying this practice to your projects means a daylong project doesn’t need to consume a whole day if wisely planned in advance!
Say “no” more often.
Working in hospitality can make it seem like “yes” is the only way to answer client requests, but remember that the word “no” is an entrepreneur’s most effective tool.
“Say no to projects that may be too challenging or too difficult to take care of with other things going on,” encourages Monika Kreinberg of Furever Us. “Many vendors may be pretty new in the business and take on more than they can handle. Make sure you know your limits and what you are capable of doing. It is not about doing everything, and it is about doing what you set yourself up to do, right.”
The most successful businesses (and humans) do a few things very well rather than doing many things just OK. Avoid stretching yourself too thin so you can dedicate your creative energy to the areas that move the needle most.
Set expectations with clients.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the busy season, all it takes is one annoying request in your inbox to push you over the edge. But you can’t expect others to know your boundaries if you don’t establish them first!
“Make it known to your audience that your email/texts/responses will be delayed and guarantee a time slot for your clients to feel that they're not just a number on your list,” suggests Lizzy Liz Chan of Lizzy Liz Events. “It's going to be hard to find a balance, but clients will understand that we're suffering a staff shortage, and they know that your quality time with them to go over all the details will make them feel better.”
As always, honest and open communication is the secret to setting clear expectations while maintaining a positive working relationship with clients and colleagues.
Image by Pharris Photos
Step away to recharge.
Nonstop work all the time is a recipe for burnout — and when you’re feeling like a shell of yourself, it doesn’t do your business or your clients any good. That’s why Angie Johnston of Sapphire Celebrations urges event pros to “intentionally unplug from work and the events community.”
“Turn off your notifications and take intentional breaks from the demands of clients and vendors,” she says. “Schedule a walk outside, take evenings off, and honor the boundaries you establish. Not everything is truly an emergency, no matter what our clients think. If you take care of your health, you will naturally have reduced stress in your work and personal life.”
When you intentionally give yourself time to rest and show up for yourself, you’ll return to the office with more energy and creativity to pour into your work (and you’ll feel better for it!).
Put self-care in your calendar.
If you have good intentions for self-care but always seem to lose track of time, start treating yourself like a client and make appointments with yourself.
“Don't ignore these blocks of time,” she says. “You should look forward to them and hold them close to your heart, ensuring nothing interferes unless it is truly an emergency! An investment in yourself is an investment in your company and will truly bring your business to the next level.”
And just as you would with a client meeting you can’t attend, always reschedule your self-care check-ins when something gets in the way. So many things can wait, but your well-being is not one of them!
Keep up the good vibes!
There’s nothing like a reward to celebrate your wins and maintain momentum! Recognition of your accomplishments serves as a reminder of the “why” behind all of the effort and energy you put into your work, helping you to hang on through the busy season.
“Take some time to reward yourself and your teams for hard work, especially during the busy season,” says Sam Nelson of EVL Events. “Rewarding yourself and your teams will help keep the positivity flowing and drive going. Yes, we are busy, and yes, we could be doing other things, but this is so important to keep yourself thriving and stress-free and even more so for your team! Let them play and celebrate all that you are doing!”
An afternoon off to grab lunch as a team or some small-but-thoughtful gifts can go a long way in keeping morale high and team members happy!
While there is no fast-forward button to speed through the rest of the busy season, these tips will help you weather the frenzy of events while prioritizing your mental health and well-being. Remember: To be a boss, you must treat yourself like one!