Category Archives: Time Management

Give Yourself A Break: Slow Down your Schedule

By | Event Planner, Event Planning Education, Goal Setting, Mental Health Tips for Business Owners, Self Care, Time Management | No Comments

I used to be a full time business owner, and there was always something to do:  A timeline to build, a blog post to write, a mixer to attend.  Even when I had organized the business to guarantee a neatly contained workday nearly every day, I’d find myself at 9pm at night, say, going online and doing some marketing research, or updating my bookkeeping. I was very efficient with my main work at hand (event planning), so when I had leftover time, I felt like I should be doing something more.  And certainly, there was always something useful I could be doing, even if it wasn’t totally necessary.  But what I should have been doing was telling myself to slow down. Take some time for myself, my friends, my family.

I wound down my business 3 years ago to work in the hospitality industry, but even then, I was consulting on the side on a freelance basis, and working on a project (virtual Wedding Planner Support Groups – to come in late Summer 2019), and this, that and the other.  Then, a few weeks ago, something changed.

I’d leave my job, come home, tidy the house, make dinner, check in on some family, work out…and just have a nice evening of normal around-the-house activities.  I had finished up a couple consultation projects; the Wedding Planner Support Groups were steadily coming together; and I just decided to have one job for a few weeks. And it was awesome.  I realized, I didn’t have to take over the world every night after work – I didn’t have to do MORE to be a BETTER consultant or hospitality professional. I could slow down a little; I could have a nice normal life with ONE job and the occasional, well timed and somewhat automated side project.   The pressure to be all things, to have my fingers in every pie, fell away.  As my business consultant once told me when I went on a downward spiral about all I was trying to accomplish:  Give yourself a f*&king break.

And I’ve never been happier.

A few things that happened because of my return to normal-hood:

  1.  I’m sleeping better.  Fewer things are swimming in my head when my head hits the pillow every night.
  2. I’m highly focused.  Multitasking isn’t always the ideal – you can’t multi-task every single moment of the day. You risk doing a half-assed job on everything versus giving 110% to every task.
  3. I’m healthier.  I started working out almost every single night (Beachbody on Demand to the rescue!). I’ve regained muscle I haven’t seen in years, it’s also added to my sleep, and my stress levels have plummeted since I have increased my cardio activity.
  4. I’m closer to friends and family. I have more time to reach out, send that checking-in text, grab coffee on the weekends.  Socializing has legitimate long-term, crucial health benefits, along with the short-term bump you feel in overall mood.

Life is precious, and every second counts.  No one is going to give you a medal if you add one more thing to your to-do list to prove your productivity.  Give yourself a break; slow down the pace of the voices in your head demanding you do more, more, more; give yourself boundaries, and take time to refill your well of energy, every single day.

Organization: The key to sanity

By | Planning, Stress Relief, Time Management | No Comments

As a work-from-home mom, I have to be extremely organized.  It’s ongoing; as my business has grown, I need to keep up with it from a filing and storage standpoint, in a 1500-square foot house that must act as home for a toddler and a husband, as well as separate office space for said husband.  All I can say is, Ikea Expedit bookshelves are the best thing ever – they’re furniture that also has a very specific function:  Storage.  Ikea sells all sorts of baskets and bins that fit in the bookshelves to attractively hide your stuff.

My Expedit bookshelf, hard at work

Organization for the bride can be a huge time saver, and is no doubt a big-time stress reliever.  Sometimes, it seems daunting to create an organization system – and keep it up – but when you do, you feel secure in the planning process.

My clients have found success by doing the following:

  • Don’t procrastinate.  Planning is stressful; planning at the last minute is SUPER stressful.  Which do you prefer?  Don’t wait to get stuff done!
  • Excel is your best friend. Organize simple spreadsheets with fields for bridal party info, vendor info (including payments due, arrival times, contact info, etc.), and a basic timeline.  (A coordinator will complement your spreadsheet with his/her own, and take over the timeline after you hand over your basic schedule.)
  • Office Supplies.  I must admit, I’m obsessed with office supplies. Some clients prefer a binder; others like the ease of an accordion file folder. Receipts, records, contracts, all can be sorted clearly in either.

I luurrrvvee Staples' "M" line of stylish office supplies. Their file folders are my favorites.

An organized bride is a happy bride…make that your mantra!

Can You Afford a Wedding? Part 2: DIY’ers, Beware

By | Budget Weddings, Planning, Time Management | No Comments

The explosion of wedding blogs and magazines have promoted the idea that you, the bride (and/or groom), can, with your own hands and perhaps a few bridesmaids’ help, create the perfect wedding on a tiny budget.  I love these blogs. The inspiration is endless. Martha Stewart, she’s like a goddess to me.  And there’s something fabulous about having your own ideas and handiwork reflected in your event.

But women, being the perfectionists that we are, sometimes put too much pressure on ourselves to create the perfect wedding. And on top of that, there’s a myth that DIY’g is the easy way to have an inexpensive wedding.  Before you commit to any large DIY project, inform yourself.

Keep these ideas in mind:

1.  Start early! Plan to have all your favors, decor, everything you are creating yourself, done 4-6 weeks prior to the event.  You’ll shoot for this, and if you don’t quite make this deadline, you still have a whole month left.  The tradeoff with not paying someone is that you have to make time to do these things by yourself, but your full time job isn’t doing the flowers, or decor, or favors – you already have a job. So, you need more time. Simple as that.

2.  Beware asking friends for help.  Most of them will do a lovely job, but give them time too, and a precise and un-overwhelming to-do list with deadlines. Make it fun:  If you need help assembling favors, have a party – with wine and cheese and girly movies, whole nine yards.

Asking friends who are wedding pros to perform their job at your wedding is also dicey; if they are someone you would already considering inviting, let them know you understand if they’d rather not work your wedding and would prefer to sit back and enjoy.  Pay them – either for their supplies, a performance fee, or both.  If they consider it their gift to you, give them a heartfelt token of your appreciation – give the photographer a point-and-shoot digital camera for test shoots, buy the florist a luxurious bottle of high-end champagne.

3.  DIYers need a coordinator as much as – or more! – than non DIYers. Yes, it’s true. The whole point is you’re trying to save money, right? I totally get it (I shopped my candle centerpieces from thrift stores myself, and had pals in production and art production set them up on the tables – I’ve been there!).  But, when your mom is providing the alcohol and your cousin is doing the flowers and your dad is bringing the favors, you  need someone to tie it all together.

For example, these flowers for this September wedding were done by the bride’s aunt and mother, two talented “on the side” florists who are doing more and more professional jobs as they perfect their skills.  Their centerpieces were a lovely gift to the bride and groom.

When I first booked the client, she asked if I could help transport the flowers. I said I could probably help, but then we discussed further, and there were going to be at least 20 arrangements with as many vases; four pillars; and other accessories, too much to fit in my crossover SUV.  6 weeks prior to their wedding date, I created a schedule that allowed for morning load in at two different locations (ceremony and reception), and load out as well, and shared with all family members.  They ended up borrowing a truck and using the help of wonderful friends who donated their time.

Also, a coordinator calls all the involved DIY’er parties and lets them know when their work is needed, when.  They ensure the family-friend DJ has the names of the grand entrance participants, and how to say them phonetically; they make sure the buddy playing the ipod during the reception does a sound check prior – that kind of thing.  We pick up stuff that slips through the cracks, so you don’t have to.

Just this past weekend, I coordinated a wedding in which the brides’ family donated the alcohol.  I was there bright and cheery at load in, ensured they had the right amounts of liquor and mixers chilling all morning, hung the bar menu on the wall, and was able to show the bartenders around when they arrived while the family members were at the ceremony.  I coordinated with the owner of the banquet hall their exact arrival time (which changed three times), so the bride didn’t have to keep on top of it.  I saw that the women wisely overbought, and left one huge bag unpacked which allowed for a easier load out. Oh – and I went out and bought ice throughout to keep up the supply.

4.  Think twice before doing your own flowers. So many brides see the beautiful colors at the flower mart and go, “I want to do my own flowers!” Trust me – I’m a flower arranging fanatic.  But your wedding is not the time to do it, UNLESS, you keep it simple.

For example – and pardon the crappy photo, haven’t received the pro photos yet – the clients at this wedding took irises, bought vases, rooted the irises in clear marbles, added some water – boom, they had a lovely, simple centerpiece.  They were able to make them two days ahead of time, making sure they had a cool space to keep the flowers so they wouldn’t wilt.

Making bouquets and boutonnieres is a whole other art, and taking a class or practicing many months prior to the event is widely recommended.

And remember, you can’t really do flowers ahead of time – 48 hours is about the cutoff. (Some florists do arrangements further in advance depending on the flower and how important it is for the blooms to open, but they have ideal temp-controlled spaces to store the flowers for optimum freshness).  So many things happen just before wedding – certainly, ‘planning fatigue’ sets in – and many brides realize they got themselves in over their head, unless a gaggle of friends and family are committed to a flower party just two days before the big event.

5.  Sometimes, paying for a service is cheaper than DIY. Cheaper not only financially, but sanity/time wise, as well.

This bride paid for the beautiful design of her table numbers and escort cards, ordered flower arrangements, but bought the tri-level candle holders herself.  She split the cost 50/50 and got to keep the candle holders, also – a good compromise.  Printing out her own escort cards and table numbers would likely cost her as much in paper and ink (especially because mistakes happen on home printers all the time), and would take up a good amount of time as well.

In summary, DIY is a great thing, but be careful to filter your inspiration through the lens of reality. Give yourself plenty of time, ask for help, and pick your battles wisely.

Holiday Time-Saving Tips from a Bride Who’s Been There

By | Holidays, Planning, Stress Relief, Time Management | No Comments

I was in the midst of wedding planning during the holidays, as I had a spring wedding.  March sure seems close when the Christmas tree goes up.  I needed to make sure I had enough time to myself, apart from my full time job (and part time job on top of THAT) and wedding planning; here’s how I retained sanity.

  • Plan ahead! Shop well before Christmas.  I went evenings after work – few people are xmas shopping Monday or Tuesday evenings. I did some research during lunch hours, reading ads and collecting coupons and retail club member rewards.  My favorites: Cost Plus (they send pretty substantial coupons fairly often if you sign up); Best Buy Reward Zone, and J Crew is starting to slip in 20% off coupons in their catalogs.
  • Follow sites like DealCatcher.com or follow my favorite, Broke Chick, on Twitter.
  • And while you’re surfing the web, shop there – aren’t Amazon wish lists the best?
  • Don’t do DIY gifts.  This is the year to pass on them.  Like you have time to be making 20 jars of homemade cookie mix this year? Have a glass of wine and watch Pride and Prejudice instead!
  • Another great idea: Email all your buds and say that in lieu of gifts, you are making a donation to Kiva.org, Brides Against Breast Cancer, or another meaningful charity.  You’ll be surprised how relieved your friends and family will be to be taken out of the gift-giving rat race (financially and timewise, gift giving has become a huge burden), and whether you give $1 or $100, no one will know but your grateful recipients.  Charities have seen a downturn in donations since the recession hit, and every penny matters.
  • Shoot for early prep.  By Dec 15th, have your wrapping and mailing done or ready to shoot in the mail.  Schedule it out on your calendar.
  • Reward yourself.  Give yourself a pedi, an afternoon out with the girls, or…maybe some more wine and Pride and Prejudice? (I love the scene where Elizabeth sees Mr. Darcy walking across the heath…sigh…)
  • Hold a wedding-prep party.  Treat your pals to take out (please don’t cook yourself!) and cocktails, and assemble favors, address invitations, or make those paper flower centerpieces you love.  Check some things off your list and have some holiday fun all at once.
  • Most importantly, have fun.  Try not to let the stress of planning AND the holidays get to you.  No one is following you around to see how great a holiday hostess you are – they’re too stressed and busy themselves!  Opt out of the rat race and make sure to have some time to yourself.