How To Stop Stressing Out While Planning An Event
So many women dream of becoming an event planner, but when they finally get the clients they worked so hard to impress, they start stressing out.
Creating a workback schedule, finding the right vendors, ongoing client meetings, creating an event budget, building an event team, and impressing your client along the way all become your top priority.
Wasn’t working for yourself supposed to be rewarding, giving you more time to spend with your friends and family, work with people you love and be in charge of making the money you deserve to have in your bank account?
As someone who has planned events and worked from a desk for most of my adult life, I understand the pressure associated with planning multiple events simultaneously and I’ve felt the pressure to create new (and interesting) twists that keep event attendees engaged.
I certainly haven’t mastered the art of how to stop stressing out while planning an event, but after years of practicing mediation and yoga I am getting better at it!
A New Twist To Planning an Event
In today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV, Sarah Vaynerman from Work from Om, shares some simple techniques to strop stressing out while planning an event and how her business helps you add a new twist to an old conference or event you’re planning.
Now I’d love to hear from you. In the comments below, share how you stop stressing out while planning an event? Do you have a tip or two that you will share with our event planning community? Thanks so much for sharing your stress reduction techniques! Have an amazing (and stress free ;-)) week,
P.S. Do you know another event planner who needs to chill out? Share this post with her because it might be exactly what she needs to experience a little relaxation today. 🙂
Melanie: Simple techniques to stop stressing out while you’re planning an event. That’s what we’re talking about today on Event Planners Blueprint TV. Hey event planners, welcome back to Eventplblueprint.com. I’m Melanie, and I’m your host at Event Planning Blueprint TV. Today we are going to be talking about something completely different from Event Planning. My guest, Sarah Vaynerman is a certified yoga teacher and the founder and CEO of Work From Om, which is a New York based wellness company that brings yoga meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques to the workplace. And what better place to do that than at events? So, Sarah, welcome to our show and thank you so much for joining us.
Sarah: Thank you so much for having me.
Melanie: As I mentioned, Sarah is based in New York and she is a certified yoga teacher. So, I am going to just turn it over to her quickly to give us a brief bio about how she got started Work From Om, and also what role yoga and meditation play in event planning.
Sarah: Thanks, Melanie. So, I started Work From Om after having realized that doing yoga and meditating is actually having a really positive impact on my own personal and specifically my professional life. Once I started to have a regular practice, I found that I was thinking more clearly, I was much less stressed out at work. Everything improved. My client relationships became better. My work became better. My deadlines didn’t seem so looming and heavy. Everything came a little bit easier to me. And I started wondering, what is the correlation between the past year of my life when I’ve been really getting into yoga and meditation, and all of this improvement that I see in an area that I never really expected, which was in work. At the time, I was a marketing consultant, and I become passionately curious. I started to a lot of looking around on Google, I stated going to a lot of events. I realized that this is really becoming a huge trend. I started a Pinterest board. That’s really how this business started, believe it or not. I was pinning every article I could find that had information about how yoga and meditation was helping business professional and organizations become healthier, happier, and more productive. So now there are over 250 on that Pinterest, and they’re from the New York Times, and Wall Street Journal, and Psychology Today, and the Washington Post, and the Business Review. You name it. It’s really becoming something that people are embracing as a very practical approach to de-stressing and being happier and more fulfilled, and, frankly, more productive at work.
Melanie: I would agree, totally. I love meditation. I do it almost daily, and I notice an immediate difference. I try to do it first thing in the morning. After I wake up, I get ready and then I take a few minutes to meditate because I just find that it does relax me a lot and it’s a great way to start my day. With that in mind, and with all this research—and by the way, I love that you started something out of a passion and Pinterest and used social media to start your business. But, what role does meditation or yoga have in event planning?
Sarah: Well, it’s two-fold. In event planning, actually, yoga and meditation can be very helpful for the event planners themselves, and we’ll get to that in a moment. But also, in the actual events, I am seeing a huge trend in wellness. Not only are people starting to get healthier food and beverages at their events, they want their events to be more holistic. Things get really busy. Things get really crazy. People are lugging stuff, moving it around, constantly tweeting, and writing. It can get a little bit hectic, both from the planning side and also the attendee side.” For example, just a couple of days ago, I led a meditation at an event, a tech conference, which a lot of your viewers are probably familiar with. Liz King events produced this conference called Techsytalk. I believe it was the third or fourth instance of it. And I kicked off the afternoon with a guided meditation. So, during this conference there were tweets and Instagram posts, and the DoubleDutch app was going berserk. Everyone was so excited, taking pictures and following along. But of course, that can also get a little bit crazy and hard to keep up with. So, the afternoon session actually started with the guided meditation. The first thing I said was, “Okay, everybody, put down your phones. Close your computers.” And first, I got a lot of side-eyes. “Are you serious? This is a tech conference. What are you doing here, lady?” But very quickly, when I said, “Just relax, and listen to my voice and get comfortable,” people were like, “All right, I could get into this.” And in just about thirty seconds, I had a room of event planners who otherwise are always on, multitasking like crazy, busy, busy, busy, sitting there calmly with their eyes closed, connecting with their breath, preparing to take in all the new information that they are going to get for the afternoon, letting go of the morning session and all of the exhibiting. And even though it was only five minutes, afterwards, everyone looked up with these big smiles, feeling refreshed. And they were thankful that they had time during that busy day to just check in with themselves, to reengage their inner selves and not necessarily be tied to that phone 24/7. Even a five minute break can be really impactful. And I got a lot of great feedback because a lot of those people in that room have never meditated before, and they’re always on. It’s a little bit of a digital diet.
Melanie: I love it: the digital diet. That’s great.
Sarah: With yoga, we are seeing this everywhere. I’ve read just in BizBash last week, they recommended nine ways to break up your meetings, and yoga and meditation were two of the nine ways. The biggest source in their planning is recommended as a really great way to build space into your meeting agendas, and make your attendees feel a little bit more whole and a little less frenzied during these big conferences that really do take a lot out of us.
Melanie: I think that’s great. It’s such a nice and refreshing reset for the day. What a perfect time to have it: after the lunch break, before you get started, because a lot of times you’re in a venue where you don’t get outside. You don’t get any fresh air. You don’t get any movement throughout the day, especially if it’s a conference or a meeting. People get really tired and lethargic. If you’re doing a sales meeting for example, your mental capacity halfway through the day is going to be so diminished because those fluorescent lights are shining on you. I love that you did that at that time of day, but it’s also a great tool that event planners watching this can use as well. So, that’s talking about how event planners can use it in the events themselves, but what about ways they can use it maybe when they are planning and things are really frantic? I know it’s not going to be something that they’ll be like, “Oh, I am going to stop for five minutes and meditate, with my clients it’s a shit storm right now.” Excuse my language. But are there ways that event planners can use it while they’re planning their events?
Sarah: Absolutely. So, we have an attention epidemic in our society today. We’re always on. Actually, Psychology Today put out some research that the average person has 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day.
Sarah: That’s a lot!
Melanie: A lot.
Sarah: We receive the average person, 121 emails per day. We send and receive 52 texts per day. And 62% of people reach for their smartphones immediately when they wake up. Now, these are average statistics. If you’re an event planner, my guess is that you are outlier on the high side of those stats. Event planners are always on their phones. They’ve got stuff to manage all the time, not only during the event itself, which of course can be really stressful, but planning and getting all the birds and bees together. Your emails, all of the tech that goes into it, can be really, really difficult. There is a demand for our attention like never before. So what I recommend is a little bit of a digital diet. Not a digital detox, but a digital diet. I know a digital detox is something we see a lot in the media these days. People recommend taking an entire Saturday or Sunday to just be free of their phone. And sure, that sounds wonderful, but for a lot of us that’s just not realistic. So, instead, we do a digital diet. And here are a few recommendations that I have for event planners and really anybody who is feeling a little bit overwhelmed with all the information that they have coming at them all the time and not being able to manage it. For one, and Melanie, to your point earlier, have your morning and evening with a tech-free hour. So you said that you meditated in the morning, and I think that’s wonderful. I recommend that to everybody. If you just use an alarm clock, an actual alarm clock rather than your phone, and you give yourself an hour in the morning to take a shower, drink your coffee, take a few moments to check in with your breath and your body and meditate—if you’re me, do a little bit of yoga—that hour will do wonders for your day. Frankly, it will seem like a lot longer than an hour. And same thing at night: there’s research that shows that we sleep a lot better if we just turn off all of our devices an hour before we got to bed, and we are actually able to get a lot more done. So, have your morning and evening with a tech-free hour. Also, turn off non-vital notifications. While I realize this, especially for an event planner, can be a little bit daunting, you don’t need to have your Facebook notifications on all of the time, or your Instagram notifications. Of course, if you have an event going on, you want to have your texts enabled, and you want to have your email notifications enabled, but maybe assign a resource to deal with the social media and don’t have your notifications on. Set aside time for when you want to check that stuff, and respond to your messages, and your retweets and all of that. But you don’t need to know every time that something happens because, as I mentioned just a few minutes ago, we’re getting so many emails, so many text messages per day. Forget about the social notifications. Why stress yourself with all that more than you need to? I have this little trick that I call the 40-4-10 rule. If you’re planning an event—let’s say you need to make your event website, or you need to plan your agenda—it requires focus. 40-4-10. Take 40 minutes to just do the task at hand, whether it’s just putting your agenda together, or whatever that is. Take 40 minutes and just focus on that. Turn everything else off. Then take four minutes to step away from it, meditate for maybe two or three minutes. Give yourself a minute or two on each end. Then take ten minutes to turn on your phone, look at your emails, look at your notifications and respond to anything that is really pressing and urgent. Of course, in this day and age, sometimes we do have to immediately respond. But there is nobody who can’t want an hour to hear from you.
Melanie: So, Sarah, with that 40-4-10 rule, how often do you suggest that people do it? Every hour for eight hours a day, or every couple of hours? With event planning, there’s a lot of multitasking and things are changing, especially if you’re at the event. So that may not work. It probably works better when you’re planning the event.
Melanie: But what’s your suggestion for how often people should do that?
Sarah: I would say any time you have a really big project, because that requires a lot of your focus. We are constantly multitasking, everybody these days. But the research shows that multi-tasking is actually not effective and not productive at all. So if you can avoid it, my recommendation is to avoid it. Of course, when you’re at an event, and you have your headset on and your iPhone, and this person is texting you because they need you immediately, and this is going on, sometimes you have to multitask. You just can’t get away from it. But if you can get away from it, use that rule when you’re I the planning phases and when there is a task that really requires your focus. So, maybe do it all morning before lunch. You’re just working blocks of 40-4-10. Sometimes I do that when I have a big presentation. I’m just working on that presentation and I have blinders on for those 40 minutes. And then I step away, I take 3 minutes to meditate—I put 4 there because it’s easy to remember. 40-4-10—
Melanie: Yeah, it’s very good.
Sarah: It gives you a little bit of a buffer, and then when you add that up, it gives you 54 minutes, and that’s a pretty productive hour. So, there’s really no formula to how often you need to do it. But it is my suggestion for any time you have a really big project.
Melanie: That’s great. I love that it will help you focus as well. Because I know a lot of people, especially when you are multitasking, it is so easy to get distracted.
Melanie: So it’s really focused. And the fact that you turn off your technology for those first 44 minutes is brilliant. Now, Sarah, I know you had mentioned that you have a couple of other steps to share with our event planners who are watching today so that they can be more mindful of the tasks that they are completing. Why don’t you just give us a few other ones outside of the 40-4-10?
Sarah: Another recommendation that I have is to designate phone-free zones an phone-free situations. The reason being is that research shows that when we are focused on one thing, even if it’s just exercise or the conversation that we are having with our friend over lunch, it gives our brain a little bit of a break. It lets our brain recharge. When we are jumping around from one thing to another constantly, that actually activates our dopamine level, and it makes us want to receive notifications. I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves looking at our phone and waiting for something to pop up at us, even though we get those notifications. You’ll get it that day. Your phone will vibrate. You’ll get whatever it is to notify you when something happens. It’s going to happen. Yet, we still reach for our phones when there is nothing there. Why is that? It’s because our dopamine receptions are seeking some sort of pleasure and satisfaction. Every time we get a notification, it reinforces that somebody is thinking about us or noticing us, or recognizing us in some way. And then, we get that satisfaction and it quickly subsides and then we want more. So, if you designate phone free zones and situations, like when you go to the gym or when you go to a yoga class, when you meditate or at meal time, it gives your brain a break. It lets your brain know that it’s okay not to be constantly getting those notifications. It enables you to not only want them a little bit less but also it actually, it helps to rewire your brain in the same way that meditation does. So, the grey matter in your brain becomes thicker when you meditate. What that really means is that when you focus on just one thing at a time, over time, the part of your brain that is devoted to attention and focus will actually improve. Just ten minutes a day for eight weeks has shown to significantly improve the thickness of your prefrontal cortex, as well as your hippocampus, another part of your brain responsible for dealing with stress, focus, attention, and productivity.
Melanie: In case you are watching this and you’re interested in meditating, but you’ve never done it before, don’t be hard on yourself if you’re sitting there and you’ve got lists going through your head. I know when I first started meditating, I would do my grocery lists in my head and then I’d get mad at myself because I wasn’t doing it properly. I just want to throw it out there: it’s a practice. It’s a habit and technique that you just keep doing and eventually you get better at. Sarah, do you have anything on your website that maybe it is a four minute meditation, or do you recommend anything on YouTube that people can go to for guided meditation to get started?
Sarah: Sure. There are a couple of really good apps for meditation. One that I really like is called Headspace. I also really recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post, and that actually describes meditation that activates our parasympathetic nervous. What that means is that it’s the opposite of your fight or flight response.
Sarah: So, in just one minute, you could activate the system that relaxes you if you just pay attention to your breathing and focus on that. And just like you said, Melanie, it’s okay if your mind wanders a little bit. The point of meditation and mindfulness meditation in particular, is nonjudgment. So actually, if you are sitting there going through your grocery list, and you notice that you are going through your grocery list, you’re doing it right. The point of mindfulness meditation is to notice, is to watch yourself. It’s to be a witness to what’s going on in your head. The part where you may be run off course a little bit is when you beat yourself up for it. That’s not necessary, because you’re not there to judge yourself. You’re just there to notice and to be able to be more aware of what’s going on. I like to say, you have to watch your thoughts before you can understand your thoughts. And you have to understand your thoughts before you can actually control your thoughts and your mind in general.
Sarah: The most important thing is that you watch without judgment, because that’s really the only way that you are going to understand what’s going on in your head.
Melanie: I love that. Thank you for sharing that. And can you just repeat the app that people can go to and download?
Sarah: Yeah, it’s called Headspace.
Melanie: Great. I know of Headspace. It’s a fantastic app. Good suggestion. So, we all know that there is lots of negative physical and mental effects from being at our desks or own our phones all day, whether we are sitting at our desks planning an event or whether we are at the event itself. Can we just demonstrate a few simple stretches and maybe describe some meditations to counteract that?
Sarah: Sure. So, for starters, a meditation, since we are already on that meditation topic—
Sarah:—Is the one that I just described to you with the parasympathetic nervous system. And all you have to do is exhale for twice as long as you inhale. You inhale for one, two. Exhale for one, two, three, four. Inhale for one, two, three. Exhale for one, two, three, four, five, six. When you get to the four and eight, you could either stay there if it feels comfortable for you, or start it again from the bottom with two and four, three and six, four and eight. And doing that will activate your relaxation response. If you’re feeling really stressed out because you’ve got too many things to do or your coworker is driving you crazy, or you’ve got to pick your kids up from school and you’re running late, just do that for one minute, and I promise you that not only will you feel better, but it will actually clear out some cobwebs in your head and help you focus and help you actually accomplish whatever it is that is stressing you out so much in the first place.
Melanie: Just from doing that short version, my shoulders feel a little better already and less stressed. That’s where I carry my tension, so I love that. I will definitely find your link to the Huffington Post and we’ll attach it here so people can reach your article as well. Now, let’s get into a couple of stretches. I know we are in our yoga gear, so we are going to show a few stretches. I just have to adjust the screen slightly.
Sarah: Let’s start with a couple of seated things that people can do just like you and I are right now.
Melanie: Okay, I’m just going to put my hair back because it’s hot.
Sarah: Wrists. Wrists are really important, our wrists and our fingers. We’ve all heard of Carpal Tunnel, of course. One of the easiest ways to counteract effects of Carpal Tunnel, or to prevent Carpal Tunnel, is to do the typical yogi “hands at heart center.” Get your hands about 90 degrees, right here. Straight line from elbow to elbow, and just push, for about 30 seconds. That’ll give you a nice stretch in your wrists.
Melanie: Yeah, I can definitely feel that, especially in my right wrist, because I am right-handed.
Melanie: I’m also using it the most all day every day [inaudible].
Sarah: Another thing that we deal with a lot is our thumbs, especially because of this guy right here [indicates phone]. We are constantly typing, typing, typing, and our thumbs, opposable as they are, aren’t really designed to be on an iPhone all day. One is just take your thumb and pull it straight back.
Melanie: I love this stretch.
Sarah: Yeah, it feels really good.
Melanie: It’s so good.
Sarah: It’s awesome for desk work. Take your two peace fingers.
Sarah: Put them around the thumb
Melanie: Got it.
Sarah: And stretch that. And then of course just shaking it out sometimes is really, really good.
Sarah: And also, you could push your wrists this way. You want to bring your hands out in front of you and your palms facing towards you and then just push on the back of your palms and that’ll give you a nice stretch right here in your front wrists. Another thing that we deal with often is pain in our neck, and that also is phone related. Text Neck is a really common thing. I think about a year ago, it was everywhere. Everyone was talking about Text Neck. What does that mean? That means that I am like this. My next is supposed to be straight up, and my neck is like this. Maybe even like this. For every 15 degrees, or I think it’s for every 12 degrees that our neck moves down, we add 15 pounds of pressure on our neck.
Melanie: Wow, that’s a lot.
Sarah: So, typically, if you’re always hunched over like this, your neck is experiencing about 60 pounds more than it’s used to, and that can be really, really painful. I know people are constantly dealing with hernias, herniated disks up here, and one way to counteract that is a simple chin tuck. This may look a little bit awkward. Bear with me.
Melanie: Is it going to give us a double chin?
Sarah: It sure is. You just pull your chin straight back, as far back as you can. Don’t bring it to your chest, just pull it back as far as it will go.
Melanie: Got it.
Sarah: While keeping your neck straight. From there, what you can do is imagine that there is somebody that is pulling a string from the top vertebrae of your spine, straight up to the ceiling. You can feel the energy as you elongate your spine. Then, bring your chin closer to your chest and pull on that string again, like you’re a puppet. For me personally, I have a little bit of stress right back here, so I like to hang on my right side a little bit to get a deeper stretch right here in the left side of my neck and back.
Melanie: That’s funny. I actually feel it right in here.
Sarah: Yeah. And a lot of people hold a lot of tension in their neck and shoulders, and as long as you just take this one slowly. You can close your eyes and try to understand where the sensation is coming from, where you need a little more space. Breathe into it so, again for me, right here on the left side of my neck. So, I move to the right and I can actually feel myself creating a little bit more space which I so much need right here.
Melanie: Nice. Those are great.
Sarah: Yeah. They are so easy to do at your desk. Actually, we do these trainings for companies because a lot of times, if you’re an accountant, for example, you’re working at an accounting firm and you’re just on Excel all the time. Your typical body position is this. And your fingers are going to get cramped; your wrists are going to get sore. Your neck is certainly going to hurt, and your lower back. One thing that we do is go into offices and we teach employees how to deal with those things on their own, right at their desks.
Melanie: That’s so great. Thank you so much, Sarah, for sharing those techniques with us. I hope you guys have got a lot of nice little stretches out of them, but again, please be careful, and if you have any injuries, do not do these stretches. So, Sarah, just share with us how we can get in touch with you.
Sarah: As you mentioned, the company is Work From Om. We’re everywhere. Our website is workfromom.com. We’re on Facebook at Facebook.com/workfromom, as well as Twitter and Instagram. You can always email firstname.lastname@example.org. That email will go directly to me, and I will read it, and I will respond.
Melanie: Fantastic. Sarah, again, thank you so much. This was a really great episode. I’m so happy you were able to join us today. I encourage you guys to go and check Sarah out at Work From Om and as always, thank you for joining me each week. We will see you again next time at Event Planning Blueprint TV. Have a great week. Disclaimer: Not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone. Check with your doctor before beginning any fitness program to avoid/reduce the risk of injury. Perform these exercises at your own risk. melanie and Sarah will not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained as a result of using any fitness program presented and/or discussed on Event Planning Blueprint, via email communications or in video format.
Want expert help building your event planning business? Get started here.