Time management for #eventprofs

Most time management advice is irrelevant for event managers. This slideshare, first delivered at a workshop for the Event Marketing Association in June 2018, offers seven easy ‘life-hacks’ to help #eventprofs prioritise multiple workloads and make the most of your most valuable resource.

You can download the slide share here.

The principles of time management are simple enough. You need to:

  • Manage the conflict between an expectation that tasks can be completed, and the amount of time available;
  • Work out what usually happens at the last minute and what can be done much earlier in the process;
  • Set really clear objectives and never lose sight of  the reasons for running the event

Life Hack #1: The Eisenhower Matrix.

At the very simplest level, divide your total to do list into four sections by asking two simple questions about each task:
> Is it urgent?
> Is it important?

This process breaks your to do list into a visual matrix of importance and urgency, which suddenly makes priorities clearer. Here’s how to deal with the resulting lists:

IMPORTANT & URGENT: Do these yourself, right now.
IMPORTANT & NOT URGENT: Set your deadline to deal with these.
NOT IMPORTANT BUT URGENT: Delegate it to someone else, right now.
NOT IMPORTANT & NOT URGENT: Get rid of anything in this box


Life Hack #2: To Do Lists are your friend!
Write down everything, but limit your list to one page per day. Tick off as you go along and defer anything not done to the next day’s list. Record how long it takes tasks which are likely to come along again when you are on deadline, as learning this will help to manage your time in future.


Life Hack #3: Template everything. Our work is necessarily process-driven, so whenever you find a process that works and saves time, save it as a template and share with others in your team or across your business who may benefit from not wasting time re-designing the wheel.


Life Hack #4: Embrace the guilt!
When I first read about Guilt Hour in March 2013 (courtesy of the brilliant Guardian journalist Oliver Burkeman), it was like the song of angels. Outlined in a Lifehacker blog by Nick Jelen, with the principle of “declare it, do it, move on”, Guilt Hour enables you and your team to tackle to burdensome tasks they have been putting off all week.


Life Hack #5. Take control of your inbox.

  1. Never reply to any email where you are only in copy. If someone expects a response, they should send it directly to you. If your name is in the CC field, assume it is for your information only. Read quickly, then file or delete as required.
  2. Never send a reply more than five lines long. If one of those is “Dear John,” and another is “Kind regards, Alex”, that only gives you three lines. So a tweet, in other words. This rule is awesome as it keeps you focused and concise. I no longer waste a quarter of an hour trying to get the wording just right!
  3. If your company is overly fond of email as an internal communications tool, but you need to focus on checking emails from speakers and sponsors, set up a rule in your email client to filter all email addresses from your company into a separate folder, which you can scan, check and respond to once a day, but ignore for the rest of the time. If someone in your company needs to talk to you urgently, they need to learn to come and actually speak to you, instead of cluttering your inbox.


Life Hack #6. Ignore the monkeys.
Ken Blanchard’s brilliant The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey (1999) is written on the premise that everyone has a monkey on their shoulder – their time management burden – and if you allow them to stand too close to you, their monkey will jump happily on to your shoulder. Deal with your own problems before you take on anyone else’s. Learn to say NO!


Life Hack #7: Check out of your own life.
This is an extreme solution, but sometimes necessary: go radio silent, switch off wifi, find a quiet place or time to work and shut out the world. Sometimes, you just need to focus on the major jobs in hand, to make sure they are done properly and without interruptions. I tend to do this when under pressure to deliver more than is humanly possible, often the week before a big event, by taking a day off or checking into a hotel. This process allows me to return to the office looking calm and serene at the most stressful point in the process.


If you find this useful, please share with friends and colleagues. A slideshare of this The Guide to Events presentation can be downloaded here.

Editor • 8th July 2018

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