I’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember. But over the years- especially this past one with starting the business- I have come up with a few tips and tricks to keep me productive!
1. Write things down. I can’t stress enough how this has helped me. If I don’t write something down in my planner, it doesn’t get done. When you have a lot going on, it’s just not plausible to expect yourself to remember everything you committed to.
2. Delegate. This is so key to any planners or anyone in a leadership position. For me it’s tendency to think I have to do it all myself to hold up my responsibility and keep the burden off others. But most of the time, others like to be asked for help. It feels good to help. In the long run, it’s a lot easier to forsake a little bit of pride and control rather than be overwhelmed and not able to finish everything you need to do. Delegate all that you can.
3. Communicate well and often. I really just learned the importance of this recently with one of my out-of-state brides. We talk on the phone on a weekly basis and email/text throughout the week. If we were closer, I would much prefer seeing her in person every week! Good communication from the start of any project or plan will weed out unnecessary bumps in the road and save you a lot of stress. It’s easier and more natural these days to shrug this one off, but trust me communication should be one of your top priorities.
4. Keep yourself healthy. Recently, I started reading a book called the Daniel Plan (www.danielplan.com). An avid Starbucks go-er and chocolate lover and biscuit fan, I never thought of the consequences that eating poorly can have on your mental clarity. Our bodies our temples and God created food to nourish us and enable us to complete all the things he has called us to do. So drink plenty of water, eat fruits and vegetables, cut the sugar (especially artificial) and gluten. When you feel good, you exude positive energy and can focus better on the tasks ahead. You may even be able to encourage your bride or team to do the same!
5. Don’t procrastinate. I’m not naturally a procrastinator but for the times that I just cannot bring myself to get something done, I’ve discovered a few ways to help motivate me. In the book of Joshua, it says that if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then CHOOSE this day who you will serve. Procrastination is self-serving, it’s all about your own needs and leads to laziness. Planning is never about the planner, you plan in order to serve someone else- so they’re who you need to think of when you are tempted to put things off. When it seems too hard on my own, I ask God for the desire and discipline to do the work and he changes my heart.
6. Keep everything in one place. Have a binder with everything for the project your planning. Print out everything you have saved on your computer, AND save it all on a flash drive to take with you. Print and organize everything as soon as you finish it. Doing it little by little will save you from being overwhelmed because when you need something, you’ll have it right on hand one way or another. Much easier than scrambling.
7. Remember WHY you are doing what you are doing. This is when having a clear vision and mission is so important in anything you are planning. If you’re planning for the wrong reason, your motivation will run dry and you’ll lose sight of why you’re working at all. When I have doubts about my business, I remind myself that I started this because the Lord asked me to step out of fear and trust that he would equip me to meet a need that I saw. I do it because I want to lead brides to love Jesus more throughout their engagement and wedding, so that they won’t be consumed by little details and crazy expenses that don’t matter in the long run but will instead be comforted, peaceful and experience a meaningful day that celebrates the bride and those she’s walked through life with. That to me, is always a worthy enough cause to keep going.
8. Find your space. Don’t skip over this one! It’s been so helpful for me to understand where and when I can be most productive. I like being in a coffee shop with a lot of natural light to brighten my mood, with people around so I’m less likely to procrastinate and coffee in my system to help me focus and. I work best from about 8am to 3pm. After that it gets really hard to focus, so I plan around that when I can. Try out a few different places and times and find out what environment spurs your productivity.
9. Hold yourself to a standard of grace, not perfection. Learning this has been one of the best things for my heart and my business. We’re humans, we’re going to fail. It’s not our job to be perfect, only Jesus is perfect. It’s our job to work our hardest at everything like we’re working for the Lord. Any person or group that you are planning for should understand that, and if they don’t then make it clear to them. Things are going to go wrong, and it will give you an opportunity to practice patience. When something does go wrong and you can’t undo, then make the best of it or let it go. Dwelling on failures just brings negative energy and slumps the mood of the people you’re with. If you stay calm and determined to find a working solution instead of wallowing in self-pity, you’ll overcome any situation.