Once, in the chaotic final days before a major event, I was so stressed out that I went to the Walgreens next door and took my blood pressure. It recommended I go to the hospital. Instead I returned to work.
Stress is a constant presence for event managers. To be successful at our jobs, we find ways of channeling it towards productivity. However, we often underestimate the harmful consequences of extended periods of stress. Burn-out is a serious problem in this business.
We need to take care of ourselves.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes early in my career running myself into the ground and I’ve learned the hard way how to manage my stress in a healthy and productive way. Here are some of the key things I’ve learned about how to take care of yourself, before, during and after your event.
Treat Your Body Right
Right before, and during, your event you will be pushing your body to its limit, likely dealing with an unholy amount of stress while sleeping very little and probably eating poorly. You'll have little or no time to recharge; it's just a flat-out sprint. The problem is, if you don't find ways treat your body right, you're going to break.
I know what you’re thinking—there’s not enough time! It's easier to not exercise, skip sleep, and eat whatever is available.
Here's the key to treating your body right: you’ve got to plan for it. The good news is that you're a natural born planner, so you've got this.
Create an exercise plan that works for YOU. If you’re a morning person, grab some time at the beginning of the day. If you’re an evening person, block out time before dinner—or before bed if you’re a night owl! Maybe that’s getting in a run, or maybe it’s just doing some squats and jumping jacks in your room! There are apps like the 7 minute workout that are awesome for helping busy planners fit in quick and effective workouts on the go. If you can find even two days a week where you work out that stress, you’ll find yourself amazingly better able to deal with whatever is thrown at you the next day.
Set aside time for yourself you know won't be infringed upon—even if it is only 10 or 20 minutes where you get out and go for a walk or sit quietly and meditate. Put it in your calendar and set a reminder.
Planning ahead works for eating, as well. You know you're going to be busy, so stock your work area with healthy snacks and meals. At Hubb, we keep our kitchen stocked with healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, and hummus. Having health food close at hand means we eat health food, and our bodies thank us.
Sleep can be a challenge for even the most capable and organized event manager. The key to making sure I get enough sleep is to prevent disorganization and tedious tasks from overwhelming me. This is where something like Hubb helps me; it automates a lot of the work that would otherwise be occupying my time. It's no exaggeration to say that I sleep better and more because of event management platforms like Hubb.
Recharge and Recover Post Event
You need to take time away from your job—time spent not thinking about your event, reading emails, or looking at your phone—if you're going to recover and avoid burnout. Ideally, you'll take a post-event vacation and sit on a beach (preferably with a tropical drink in a coconut).
This may not always be possible. If not, look for ways to recharge in ways that work for your schedule. There have been times when I was managing major events back-to-back-to-back and getting away or taking time off just wasn't an option.
To preserve my sanity (and keep my stress levels within somewhat acceptable levels), I was super proactive about recharging on the weekends. I didn't answer my phone or look at my emails over the weekends. I didn't even do laundry or cook dinner. I would leave work on Friday and I would not do anything other than go for a walk until Monday morning. I avoided electronics at all costs. It is so important to have down time each week if I was going to stay sharp and motivated as I managed those back-to-back-to-back events.
Schedule time with friends and family to relax and socialize between events. Time with loved ones can have such a positive impact on your mental health!
If you ARE able to get away after the event, I've found a few things help me do this, and help me make the most of my time off.
- Communicate your intentions in advance and set appropriate expectations. By ensuring that everyone knows ahead of time when you’re going to be gone they can plan around it, allowing them to get by without disturbing you. Set explicit instructions regarding what is considered an “emergency” and empower others to handle things while you’re gone.
- Make sure this time away is truly a vacation. Disconnect your work email from your phone.
- And when that amazing time away is winding down, make your transition back into work as easy as possible. One trick I use is to put key things in place ahead of time. For example, the first thing I do for work after an event is my reporting, so before my event I build reporting templates. That way, when I return, I already know what reports I’ll be creating and what data I need. I just drop the numbers in, which is a lot easier than having to think through an entire reporting regimen on my first day back at work.
None of this will happen on its own, but it can make a huge impact on how excited and refreshed you are as you begin working on your next event. So eat healthy, go for that walk, hit up that yoga class and take that vacation; your body, mind and spirit will thank you.
Dive into this topic in great depth! Download our helpful Post-Event Checklist.