5 Organizational Tips to Prepare for the Holidays

For most people involved in the event planning & hospitality world this is a busy time of year (and to be fair, anyone in retail too).  So how do you prepare for the holiday rush?   By being really super organized.  It’s obvious but it’s true.  I’ve noticed the difference in the workload of my daily routine between this year and the last simply by developing little techniques specific to my work that help me keep track of everything.  Not everyone works the same way, but here are 5 tips that have helped me and will hopefully help you too this holiday season.

1. Create Deadlines
Whether for yourself or a client, make sure you have deadlines for everything.  In my case this is usually related to menus/food choices.  Because I work on multiple dinners/events at once, I recently got into the habit of saying events from this date to that date must have all information to me by xx–xx date.  This allows me to carve out a specific day a week for maybe 10-30 minutes that I can review upcoming events and follow up with everyone rather than have separate dates for every single event that are due every day.  Condensing follow up dates makes it easy to remain consistent and also account for the fact that you can’t do everything every day.  Since I’ve done this, I’ve found that my workload has been simplified ten fold.  I still have to do the work, but I’m on top of it!

2. Use your calendar.
Outlook, google calendar, whatever.  Use it!  For the above deadlines I put whatever date I use as the due date in my calendar as a reminder that I am responsible for following up with clients.  Most people know to use their calendars for client appointments, meetings, etc. I think it’s equally important to use it as a tool to maintain your tasks & responsibilities.  I’m a big fan of google calendar because of how easily it can sync to all of your devices so reminders pop up all the time and are unavoidable.
If you already are a solid calendar user, think about how you’re using it.  I try to use it as a way to be productive, not just remember things.   I create weekly reminders in addition to specific events/meetings, etc. because no matter how routine you are, there’s a chance you’ll forget something.  This is especially great if you need to double check delivery arrivals or any time-sensitive item that is out of the ordinary.

3. Create Checklists
You know what you’re working on.  You know there’s always that question that you sometimes miss when talking to a client or vendor.  So create a list.  Even if it’s a Sunday morning you have free, get your coffee and get to work.  If you have a handy checklist covering every topic you need then you can be sure it’s done.  Have a print out if needed when reviewing final details.  Then you can date when you covered these details and make sure you covered your bases.  Maybe section an hour or 2 after you’ve created deadlines and put it in your calendar that you need to go through all your upcoming events and comb through these little details with your clients.  It will keep you efficient and hopefully from losing your head amongst the holiday madness when you’re sure your brain just wants to quit.

4. Delegate
It’s great to be organized, have patterns, deadlines and checklists, but depending on where you work and what you do sometimes the best thing to be able to do is delegate the work and projects.  Make a note in your calendar “follow up with Sandy on wrap ups,” but let Sandy do it.  Even the most organized people in the world can’t do everything his or herself.  When busy, well-orchestrated delegation may be the best way to make sure you get through everything successfully.

5. Keep Important Things Within Sight
When you get busy, like really super crazy busy, you need to keep the most important things in your line of vision.  On more than one occasion I’ve had a stack of “need attention files” that at some point I go “holy crap, this is in 2 days and I don’t have [item]!”  That’s because when I get swamped I sort of shove those things to the side, assuming it’s not the most imperative thing because, didn’t I just check that stack yesterday?  Everyday I make a list for things I need to do the night before.  This list I write in my notebook which sits out in my line of vision so I can review it every day first thing when I get into work.  Most of it is the same stuff I do everyday but the point is that I need to do it everyday.  I try to include little projects or details that maybe I didn’t finish the day before.  While my calendar notes are helpful I am a person who learns and remembers by writing things down.  Maybe for you keeping things in sight is when the reminder pops up on your screen.  I also just put post-its on my desk.  Point blank, color-coded, crazy-librarian post-it notes.  No matter how you do it, it’s hard to forget something that’s in your face.  That can be a life saver when you’re trying to prioritize a giganta-stack of work.  Trust me.

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan
For questions, business inquiries, comments, etc. send an email to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

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