It must seem like a given, that based on my career choice I must be an organized person. And though I am definitely more organized than, let’s say my husband, it is something I think about and plan for.
I am very conscious when organizing multiple projects on the go. Never have I been a person who does things last minute – I know, I know super annoying but the truth is I cannot handle the anxiety of missing a deadline – so I just don’t.
Through years of experience managing multiple projects, committees, and deadlines I have developed tools for myself and my clients to keep events and people organized and to avoid the stress of looming deadlines.
Critical Path: Your Organizational Life Line!
One of the most vital documents for planning an event is my most treasured critical path. Once we know the event date and general format we immediately create this living document. We spend A LOT of time on the critical path as it is what moves the planning process forward.
Put everything that needs to be done in order for your event to be executed in this document. We separate it by section (i.e. Logistics, fundraising, marketing, volunteers, sponsorship, execution, and so on), then within each section sort by calendar date. Depending on the scope of the project my critical path is opened once a day, twice a week or even just once a week for an update. We build in a section for status and keep updating until we can mark each task as complete. This is essentially a glorified check list!
Outlook Calendar – The Ultimate Don’t Have to Think Tool
I use my outlook calendar (swap outlook for any form of online calendar that triggers reminders) EVERY DAY! I use my calendar to block off my day and what tasks I will be working on hour by hour, half hour by half hour.
I put in time to check emails and I keep myself to that time. I block time for meetings, travel, project work and me time. Once the critical path is created for each client I then transfer time to work on each project, flag follow up calls/emails, and deadlines into my calendar to ensure I have dedicated time to work on each task.
I also focus on one project at a time. This is the key to making your calendar work for you. If you see emails popping up or dinging and keep checking them it takes you off task, you lose focus and then the task ultimately gets bumped.
I have to give credit to Tina Triano, CEO of Oakville Hospital Foundation for this ultimate tool – as she got me off the never ending “To Do” list and focused on budgeting the right amount of time per project and sticking to it. Thanks Tina!
Minute by Minute & Tie Down Meetings – The “In case I get hit by a Mac Truck” tool
When it comes to event execution, Jennifer and I can be as organized as possible but if no one else knows what is going on than we’ve got a problem. We always run a tie down meeting with all vital suppliers (venue, a/v, entertainment, décor, etc.) and our client so everyone knows what is going on and who is responsible for what.
In our meeting we walk through the minute by minute (event schedule) that incorporates all load in timing up until load out at the end of the event. I always feel so much better once I get the minute by minute created. For me it is a huge load off to take everything in my head and again put it on paper, organized by time, and with a person responsible for the action.
This document takes trying to remember every detail out of our brains and leaves room for us to troubleshoot should we need. If your mind is bogged down with details how could you possibly have room in there to think fast and effectively?
What I love about all these tools is that I don’t have to remember everything or store it all in my head. In theory should I be hit by the infamous Mac Truck someone should be able to follow the plan precisely.
Co-Owner & Event Director