A career in the events industry often involves a lot of stress and late nights. It's no wonder burnout continues to plague meeting planners. "As much as we love our jobs, they are quite time-consuming," said Emma Tietze, senior sales and events manager of the Brooklyn Bowl event venue in Williamsburg, N.Y. "Us meeting planners have to stay on our toes and be flexible to accommodate anything. We're simply not in the business of working Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then just walking away from our emails." While speaking on a panel at the recent Women Building Women event in New York City, Tietze stressed the need for event professionals to look beyond the traditional work-life balance model and aim for a new standard of wellness that incorporates self-care into the mix. "Work-life-self balance is absolutely crucial to my personal success," said Tietze. "Self is where I focus on my self-care. It helps me feel grounded and stay on top of my mental health as much as possible."
Below are a few ways meeting planners can combat burnout and achieve balance in all three categories:
Achieving work-life-self balance starts with understanding the root cause of burnout and setting boundaries in the office to prevent it, says Jennifer Moss, co-founder of Plasticity Labs, a research consulting company focused on employee happiness. "Burnout doesn't happen because we aren't doing enough yoga or we're not meditating enough," she said. "Burnout happens because of the workplace conditions and where we're going every day." According to Moss, employers have an important role to play in work-life-self balance. Event coordinators should work with their supervisors to set realistic expectations around workload and push back or ask for help when overloaded. Doing so can help relieve stress, free up planners' plates and enable them to unleash their creativity -- a must-have for modern meetings.
There's much to do in the final days before an event. Between handling last-minute agenda changes and never-ending sponsor requests, it can be hard for planners to make time for friends and social gatherings. But letting social commitments slip through the cracks is a mistake, cautions Moss. "If you are burned out because your workload is too high, you feel like you don't have time for other activities," she said. "But you do have time, you just need to structure it in." Moss suggests setting regular commitments with family and friends and making it a point not to cancel. Selecting the same day each month to meet friends for brunch or booking a babysitter every two weeks for date night with your spouse is an easy way to get -- and keep -- social time on the calendar.
For event professionals struggling with balance, technology can offer a helping hand. Experts recommend blocking out some time each week on your Google or Outlook calendar for self-care. Phone alarms and Siri can also be used to set reminders to read or go for a walk. "I can sometimes feel overwhelmed seeing how many work and life events I have scheduled on my calendar," said Tietze. "So, I always jump on a clear evening to schedule some me time to decompress and relax at home."
Another simple yet powerful change planners can make is around showing gratitude. This can include keeping a gratitude journal on a weekly or daily basis, depending on what works best for your schedule. Moss also recommends making a habit of sending a quick email each week to thank someone, whether it be a member of the event staff, a sponsor or a speaker. These small acts could increase job satisfaction and help planners create stronger professional relationships. "For people in event planning and event execution who are typically working these odd hours, a lot of what I recommend to develop psychological fitness and happiness is simple and won't take much time," said Moss. "There's a bunch of science around focusing on what you're grateful for at the end of the week. It just totally transforms the way that you interpret and look at the world around you, which then increases all the healthy chemistry you need to be more high-performing in life and work."