Q&A: Time management tips from an industry expert

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that we frequently talk about time management – a crucial asset in the event planning industry. Juggling several balls at once doesn’t come naturally to all of us, which is why we sat down with Terry Sutherland, founder and owner of The RSVP Agency, to get her take on time management. Here’s what the industry expert had to say:

Q: Getting a handle on time management can be tricky – whether you’re an event planner or not. What’s your approach to making the most out of your 24 hours in a day?

A: Without a doubt, adequate time management relies on planning the work, and then working a plan. Without a step-by-step plan, you’ll flounder. Once you’ve mapped out the best way of executing a project, stick to the plan. It’s a simple formula, but a successful one at that. You also have to be able to prioritise; identify the most pressing tasks and plan your day or week accordingly.

Q: What’s the key to proper time management?

A: Self discipline. You may have the best intentions in the world, but without the determination – and dedication – to follow through, your intentions will remain just that. Don’t procrastinate – the temptation to wander the internet or check LinkedIn might be strong, but won’t get you any further down your to-do list. Get into the habit of doing the worst things first. As you work your way through your lists, moving onto the next becomes that little bit easier.

Q: How do you cope with an office full of staff – and therefore, distractions – when you’re on a deadline or dealing with an especially demanding project?

A: As they say, the early bird catches the worm. I get heaps done in the early hours before the work day officially starts. I make a point of scheduling quiet time when I need to concentrate on SLAs, call sheets and the like; this allows me to focus solely on the task at hand and avoid interruptions.

Q:  You work on a number of projects throughout the day. What’s your take on multitasking?

A: Many think that multitasking is the only way to get through the day. While we’re all multitasking to some degree, finishing one thing first before moving onto the next enables me to give my full attention to each task. Attempting to do five things at once leaves way too much room for error.

Q: What other advice would you give to event planners who’re struggling to improve their time management skills?

A:  Work with professional suppliers – it makes all of the difference. Vendors who’re punctual, dependable and who deliver a stellar service are an essential aspect of effective time management. Tight deadlines leave no room for error, and if you have to run after a supplier to check up on them, or worse, find a replacement supplier, you’ll waste an inordinate amount of time that wasn’t there to waste in the first place! Also, make sure to document everything and save it in one central place – this will save you time that you’d otherwise have spent looking for notes.

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