According to EventPlanner.TV, in 2014, ‘Event Planning’ was voted as the 5th most stressful career path alongside Soldiers, Military Generals, Firemen and Airline Pilots, all of which are jobs that put the employee’s life at risk. So why do people think that event planning is equally stressful?
What makes event planning so stressful and how do we combat it to ensure a successful event every single time, create a healthy work/life balance and keep our anxiety levels low throughout the organising process and on the day? Firstly, let’s look at why events can be so stressful.
Why Events Are So Stressful
Events are stressful due to the copious number of tasks that need to be completed, strict time frames, tight budgets and most importantly, the fact you are responsible for planning and creating something out of thin air. Events are imaginary until people have turned up. It’s a risky business. When I organised my second event, hardly anybody came and I lost money.
Understanding and appreciating that organising an event doesn’t mean selling out, and selling out an event doesn’t mean it will go through (due to potential last minute disasters) creates a level of stress in the organisers’ mind. These tips will guarantee lower levels of stress and help you to create more successful events in the future and be anxiety free.
Tip 1: Take Regular Breaks
After a while, organising an event can send you a bit stir-crazy and blunt your sense of reality, so it is advisable to take regular breaks and switch off. Most people have ways they switch off during stressful times, whether it’s computer games, going for a run, seeing friends or taking the dog for a walk. I always take a day off after my events are over to wind down.
It’s healthy to have regular ‘you time’ whilst organising a big event, as it’ll help to free your mind of any worries and gain a fresh perspective. I recommend yoga, meditation, being sociable and exercise. I stay away from intoxicating stress relievers such as wine, as I believe it can make you lose focus. Stay healthy and switch off regularly to keep your mind fresh.
Tip 2: Create an Action Plan/Timeline
By creating an action plan with realistic timelines and goals, you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing that everything should work out just fine. Stress often comes from the unknown or the perceived unmanageability of an event, but providing you break your tasks down into bite size chunks and stick to it, this should reduce a lot of the worry that follows.
Sometimes looking too far ahead and thinking ‘how am I going to get through this work load?’ can create problems in your mind, and demotivate you, so I suggest slicing everything down into smaller actions to reduce the fears and negative thoughts which may arise. This way you won’t have too much work hanging over your head, stopping you from sleeping.
Tip 3: Have a Backup Plan
Sometimes things go wrong. Public speakers can drop out, people will change their mind, and venues could cancel last minute and so on. Always ensure you have a backup option for every avenue. Make sure you have other public speaking options and you’re not relying on one particular sponsor. But more importantly, always have a backup venue option.
Marketing can be stressful too, as you may find your strategy or advertising options don’t deliver, so create backup marketing options in case your ticket sales or invitations aren’t coming in. It’s best to prepare yourself for the worst possible outcomes, and this will reduce your levels of stress as you’ll know that you can overcome everything with ease.
Tip 4: Give Yourself Realistic Expectations
You may have grandeur expectations of your events based on previous successes. I tried finding the perfect venue in a day, when in reality it took a month. I attempted to book speakers that were a bit out of my depth. The best way to ensure your event actually happens and isn’t just a gamble is to create realistic expectations for what you want to achieve.
And give yourself plenty of time to make those goals happen. There’s nothing worse than having to lower your own standards of what you expect from yourself or your event, so make sure you stay realistic and push the boundaries upwards for every event you do and you’ll achieve your long term goals. You’ll also get frustrated if your unrealistic plans don’t work.
Tip 5: Live Healthier
That’s right. Anxiety can come from not looking after yourself, or living in an unhealthy way. The obvious catalysts are processed foods, sleep deprivation, smoking, too much coffee and not enough vitamins and exercise. If you get these areas under control, you’ll find that you’ll be less susceptible to stress and you’ll be able to manage your workload much better.
And sometimes we don’t know we’re doing it to ourselves. We get a bit stressed so we smoke a few more cigarettes which blunts our concentration skills, or we ‘don’t have the time’ to cook a healthy meal as we have too much event tasks to work on. In fact it’s the other way round. Health comes first! This will keep your concentration high and your stress low.
The conclusion is that Event Planning is one of the most stressful career paths, particularly when you’re doing it by yourself (and it’s your money at stake) or you’re a freelancer and that will never change. But you can change how you handle that stress by being fully prepared, taking breaks, setting realistic expectations and creating a healthier life.
The more you do this, the more you’ll find that your event planning will bother you less and go much smoother every time. And there are dozens of other techniques you can use to counteract stress during an event, but I’d say those discussed are the most important ones.
So get out for some fresh air, believe in your contingency planning, enjoy some sleep and you’ll get both your mind and event in a happier place.