Alyssa applies event planning concepts to lifestyle design
Event planners are not only some of the most organized people I know, but they have a way about them that de-escalates situations of stress. So when I found Alyssa in one of our bloggers’ groups I asked if she could share some insight on organizing your life (vital to designing the lifestyle you want) from an event planner’s perspective! Her blog offers tips, templates and tools for event planning, both personal and professional. Check out her post written especially for FreeAt50 below.
Hello! I’m Alyssa, an event planner by day and a freelance writer by night. I love everything about events—from setting up goals to arranging the program flow and marketing the events themselves on social media. I love the hype leading up to the event day and the sense of fulfilment that comes from finishing a job well.
There are a lot of lessons we can actually learn from organizing events. And these lessons can be applied to how we organize our lives. Here are 5 tips that I’ve taken from my event organizing experience and applied them to everyday situations.
1. Write everything down.
We live in such a fast-paced world, it’s hard to remember the things we were thinking about a few minutes ago, much less the things we need to do. When I have a to-do list for all the things I need to do for an upcoming event, I find that it helps when I write things down. When a thought crosses my mind telling me I need to check up on something or I come across a beautiful quote that I think I might use someday, I write it down. When I need to send a friend my favourite book retellings or I need to remember all the hair products I need to look out for, I write them down.
This practice of writing things down helps us remember them more. It works just like a to-do list. If we put it on a notebook or an app and we scroll through our phones or flip through our pocket journal sometime during the day, we’ll see those little notes and remember.
Sometimes, before I go to bed, I remember something I have to do, and if I don’t jot it down or type it, I won’t remember it when I wake up.
This practice of writing everything down, including the things we have to do, feels rewarding, especially when it comes to ticking off our items. What greater joy is there than ending a day and seeing that we’ve accomplished quite a great deal? Plus, it keeps us from forgetting the little details that we tend to overlook in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
2. Make use of planners and calendars.
I think Google Calendar (or Moleskin Timepage) are must-haves for event planners. What I wasn’t counting on was how it became a vital part of my personal life. Soon, I found myself scheduling other things there, and not just meetings. I’d schedule dinners with friends, coffee shop meet-ups, shopping, grocery runs, and more.
Aside from the Google Calendar which I can access through my laptop or mobile phone, I also have a planner where I jot my daily and weekly schedule on. I know it sounds like I’m a control-freak, but I promise you that I’m not. I just find that it’s a lot easier to get things done when I have everything planned out. Also, it helps a lot so I don’t accidentally set a dinner date with a friend on a weekend when I’ve already got tickets to a concert.
If we want to organize our lives better, we’ve got to make sure we know what we’re doing with our time. It helps because apps like Google Calendar and Moleskin Timepage or physical planners will give us a glimpse of what is happening in our lives. It’s so hard to blindly enter weeks and months with no idea what’s happening or what we’re going to do next.
3. Set goals and objectives for what you want to achieve.
You know that question they always ask “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” Well, it’s something like that, but to make it more doable, let’s try breaking our 5- and 10-year goals into bite-sized pieces or milestones that are easy to grasp and that won’t overwhelm us.
Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:
- What do I want to accomplish this year that will help me move towards my 5-year or 10-year plan?
- What will I accomplish this quarter that will help me accomplish my goal for the year?
- What will I do this month that will help me hit my quarterly goals?
- What will I do this week that will help me with my monthly goals?
- What will I do today that will help me work towards my weekly goals?
Do you see where I’m going with this?
One of the things I learned when I was new in the event-planning industry is that we never do events unless the objective is clear. What are our goals? What are the things we want to see so that we can say that we have succeeded in what we have planned?
And that’s the same way we want to list down our goals as we work towards our dreams. Draw the big picture first and then put steps and milestones that will show you that you’re getting there.
4. Make a log of what you do in a day.
I first read about this practice in Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It’s a book about focusing on what is essential and what is important to us and eliminating the rest. McKeown suggests that one way to find out what is essential in our lives is by making a log of where our time goes. It doesn’t have to be so detailed at first—it can just be a summary of what we did in the day. By and by, as we write every day, we’ll be able to see where our time went and if it went towards something essential.
When we set programs for our events, we don’t just toss in times and activities. Each activity is carefully thought of, each time frame is carefully considered before we come up with the final program for the event. We don’t want to waste people’s time with mindless nothings when they come to our events. We want it to be something that has been carefully planned and crafted with the event attendee in mind.
The way we come up with programs has led me to ask myself if what I do in a day is worth the time and effort I put into it. Think about it: how do you go about your day? What takes up most of your time? Writing out what I did in a day shows me how long I actually need to get things done and how long it took for me to go about really doing it.
Another way I do it is by keeping track of what I do through Toggl Time, which is both an app and a web-based platform. It lets you record what you’re doing and you can tag it so that you see where most of your time goes per day, per week, and per month. I’m able to see if I spend too much time on something because I’m too lazy to go about it, or because it’s not so important to me, so I just keep on slacking and dragging it on.
5. Be flexible.
At the end of the day, no matter how many things we plan out, how many calendar apps we download, and how many to-do lists we create, life has a way of surprising us. In events, just before the lights come on and the curtain comes up, we always tell each other, “This is it, we’ve done our best in planning. Let’s stay on our toes and be flexible for the changes that come our way.”
We can’t perfectly plan and control our lives. There are some things that will always be beyond our control. And as event planners, when that happens to our events, we have to learn how to respond with grace. When uninvited people crash into a wedding or the caterer backs out at the last minute—we can’t panic or stop what we’re doing out of sheer terror. We have to find ways to work around it and accept that everything that happens—both the good and the bad—is something that will help us grow.
It’s the same with life. As much as we want to have everything going the way we want it to, we know that it’s impossible for such a thing to happen all the time. When life throws us the little surprises, all we can do is be flexible by accepting them, embracing them, and learning from them.