Darren Port

10 Tips to Achieving Work Life Balance as an Event Planner

By Kara DeBaene / February 14, 2023

As a young woman who has been in the event industry for over 9 years, I can understand how many industry professionals find the term “work-life balance” to be an urban legend. Working the weekends, traveling for events, early morning calls and late-night meetings – sometimes it feels like a normal schedule is out of reach. Although the typical 9-5 office normalcy is not an option for us, there are tips and tricks you can use to help achieve a better work-life balance and spend more time doing the things you love.

How would I know? Not only have I been an event planner for 9 years, but during that time I have worked part-time as a gymnastics team coach, earned both my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree with a 4.0 GPA, planned for an upcoming wedding, all while working in the events industry full time. I hope you find some of this useful to take back control of your schedule and your life.

1. Block your calendar

This is probably the tip that I use the most out of all 10 and it works! I block my calendar in the morning to help me get prepared for the day so I can write my to do list. I block my calendar when I know I have a deadline and need to get a project done. I even block my calendar when I know I have back-to-back meetings and will need a 15-minute break to eat and use the restroom. By doing this, you are not allowing others to fill your time, and you are adding structure to your day in a way that works for you. Blocking your calendar puts you back in the driver’s seat with your schedule and that is the first step to work life balance.

2. Taking back your time

As we all know in the events industry, we have times of the year that are hectic and crazy where we are working non-stop and others where it is calm and not much planning is happening. Use the slow season to take back some of your time from when you were working 60-hour weeks during the events season. Book yourself a long lunch with a friend, or use the opportunity to log off early, but don’t feel guilty as long as your work is completed, and you keep your team in the loop. At the end of the day, the long event days and taking back your time all even out.

3. Use your PTO

If you know myself or my fiancé, you will know that we use every single hour of our paid time off. We love to travel and make the most of it by booking long weekends when we can. Even if you are having a staycation, don’t let your PTO go to waste! During the busy time of year, sometimes we feel like we can’t take a day, but it is better to take a partial day off than not using it at all. Be strategic with your time to ensure your events are covered and you can fully unplug and recharge while out of the office.

4. 30 minutes a day

Even during the busy season, I make it a priority to do something every day for at least 30 minutes that brings me joy, even if it is during normal working hours. As a gymnastics coach, some days this means going to work with my girls on their routines. Other days, it means blocking my calendar to go for a run during my lunch break. During events season, it could be cuddling on the couch with my dogs and watching a funny TV show – whatever it is, this time is just as important as any 30-minute work meeting you might have. Make the time!

5. Implement working hours

This is the hardest tip for me to follow as I always want to put my events and my clients first. Having a smartphone means that my email and work are always in the palm of my hand, and it is important to know when to put it down. In general, I will not answer a work request before 8:00am or after 7:00pm unless it is an event emergency or the week of the event. Find hours that work with your schedule and allow you to put down your work at the end of the day.

6. Don’t be afraid to delegate

As event professionals, we want things to be perfect and sometimes that means wanting to do things ourselves. It can be difficult, but sometimes letting go and delegating to your team can help you achieve a better work life balance. The more you can utilize your team, the less work you are doing, and in turn the less hours you are working. Trust your team member to do the work, but then verify it is done correctly to avoid creating more work for yourself. It also allows the team members around you to grow and develop professionally, creating a better work environment overall.

7. You can never be over prepared

My high school yearbook quote was “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and I stand by that 100%. I believe in most industries, the more prepared you are, the more efficiently you can use your time and be more productive overall. Sometimes this means cleaning out my inbox when I am sitting on the couch bored on a Sunday night or writing an agenda on Friday before the weekend for a Monday morning meeting, but 9 times out of 10 I thank my past self for preparing in advance. Look ahead of your schedule during down time and think how you can set yourself up for success in the coming days.

8. Stay on top of your inbox

Have you ever taken a vacation from work and come back to 3,456,321,674 emails and just wanted to give up? We have all been there and can relate! Each day, I do my best to clear out as many emails from my inbox by completing the action items and filing them into corresponding folders. I also log onto work early on Monday mornings and after taking time off, to clean up my inbox and reorganize myself. You would be amazed with how much time you can save knowing where all your emails are kept and by keeping your inbox organized.

9. Prioritize your to do list

Every week, I make a to do list, and every week, there are items on my to do list that I just don’t have the time to accomplish. Do you know what? That’s okay! It’s okay because I make my to do list, and then prioritize my most important and time sensitive tasks at the top and put my less important tasks at the bottom. By sorting my to do list in this way, it allows me to know what items can wait for the following week, and what items need to be completed quickly. Then the items that are not completed are rolled over to the following week and added as the top priority for that week ensuring they are accomplished.

10. Acknowledge and prevent burnout

Oh burnout…a term that event industry professionals know all to well. Once burnout happens during events season, it is nearly impossible to get out of it unless you take a week off on a tropical island with a frozen cocktail or two. With that being said, it is crucial to be in tune with yourself and know the early signs of burnout so that it can be prevented. Feeling less motivated? Tired and cranky? Overwhelmed with your events? Chances are you are on the verge of burnout, and by catching it early, you can save yourself a lot of headache. When burnout approaches, take a mental health day, find a friend to chat with and vent, or just spend the weekend on the couch watching movies. However you relax, take the time, and rejuvenate!

As you can see, there is no perfect work life balance for event industry professionals, but with the above tips, you can take hold of your schedule and your overall wellbeing. Find some of the above tips useful? Share this blog with some of your event professional colleagues to help them achieve work life balance as well.

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