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How to be a productive wedding planner

Having trouble getting started with wedding planning? Follow these simple productivity hacks from wedding planner and stylist Elle Winsor Grime...


For many people, getting started with wedding planning can seem like a gargantuan task, and it maybe something you've been putting off. Perhaps you're telling yourself "I just don't have enough hours in the day" or "I've got other things to worry about at the moment". It's very possible that those things are true, but by applying some simple productivity hacks commonly used in the corporate world to your wedding planning, you can overcome that overwhelmed feeling and get your big day planned like a pro!

MAKE LISTS
Writing things down and making lists is a productivity technique used by all successful business people - Richard Branson is said to carry a notebook everywhere to make lists.

Making a list of your wedding planning tasks will not only 'download' all the things whizzing round in your brain, but also allows you to break them down into easy-to-manage chunks. Writing something down that we wish to achieve means that we're far more likely to get it done. So make a list, get a whiteboard, draw a spider diagram - whatever works best for you.


OVERCOME DECISION FATIGUE
Planning your wedding may seem very time-consuming, and like an endless list of decisions to be made. But it's not really about time, it's about energy. Studies show we can make about 200 good quality decisions per day, before your brain says "no more". It's why simple decisions like deciding what to have for dinner after a long day at work can seem so impossible. Once we have spent the day making decisions, it is hard to start making wedding planning choices.

The way around this is to set aside some dedicated wedding planning time each week - say, two hours once or twice a week - instead of trying to fit planning around your normal day. This time should be focused on wedding planning, and nothing else.

Ideally, this time should be in the morning, as we find it easier to make better decisions earlier in the day. If you can, plan your morning the night before - choose your clothes, plan your breakfast, schedule the rest of the day, and write a list of the wedding planning tasks you wish to achieve the next day. Making everyday decisions the night before will leave more room for those wedding decisions. Schedule your session after some exercise, as it will release healthy endorphins that energise you. Similarly, don't wedding plan on an empty stomach! Research has proven that the brain struggles to make decisions when we are hungry, so make sure you eat before you start your session.

Eleanor Jones Photography

EAT THE FROG
This useful life hack refers to the productivity practice of tackling the jobs that we least want to to do first - so called "eating the frog". This is really about prioritising. Get the important jobs done first, even if they are not the ones you really want to do the most! Start by making a list of the things that are essential, such as budget, venue, planner and guest list. The second round of priorities should be a list of further essentials, for example: food, drinks, photographer, stylist, florist, hair, make-up, entertainment and cake.

Each of these things will, of course, lead to more decisions, but sourcing and booking the essential elements first will make the rest of your wedding planning easy. Avoid the temptation to jump the gun and look at things further down the list before you finalise those all-important things!


BREAK IT DOWN
Make a list of all the things that you need to do, and then break each of those jobs down into bite-sized tasks. This helps reduce that feeling of a job just being too big to tackle. So, for example, you might break down searching for a wedding venue like this:
1.    Make checklist of criteria for venue search.
2.    Make lists of potential venues in area.
3.    Cross-check each venue against criteria.
4.    Choose three venues to visit, and call to arrange a visit.


USE THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
A renowned time-management tool, this technique is named after the tomato-shaped timer that entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo used to track his work. The method is simple: break any big task down into smaller tasks (called 'pomodoros') that are spaced out by short breaks.

1.    Choose a task to be accomplished (hopefully you planned and wrote this down the night before).
2.    Set the timer to 25 minutes.
3.    Work on the task until the timer goes off.
4.    Take a short break of five minutes (make a drink, have a stretch, go outside).
5.    Complete four 'pomodoros', then have a longer break of around 30 minutes.

Each pomodoro should have a measurable outcome or result. For example, pomodoro one could be: make a list of five potential venues in the area. It means that when searching for that perfect venue online, limit your internet search to 25 minutes, and ensure you have shortlisted five suitable venues by the end of the pomodoro.

Ideally you should finish your task in the 25-minute slot, then move on to the next task. The benefit of timing the task means that you limit time for procrastination, plus scheduling four 25-minute chunks of wedding planning is much less overwhelming than trying to set aside a whole morning of planning, and you'll probably achieve more too.

Be aware that, for this technique to work, you need to focus only on your pomodoro task - so turn off phone notifications, don't check your emails and ask family members to come back at the end of that 25-minute session. The aim is to put the wedding planning file away after two hours and do something fun with the rest of your day!


AIM FOR PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION
As a perfectionist, this is the productivity hack that I find the hardest. I love perfect, and perfection is an essential part of my job. However, from a productivity point of view, perfectionism often leads to procrastination, and it's also often an easy excuse for putting off making important decisions.

In wedding planning, letting go of perfectionism is a very valuable tool. We are all striving for perfect in our wedding planning - whether that be the perfect venue, the perfect dress, the perfect hair and make-up, the perfect chair...

But if you delay major decisions whilst you wait for perfect, you may never get started. So sometimes you might have to settle for a B+ instead of an A. I know this might seem tough - but this will mean that you can make decisions more quickly and get that wedding planning done more efficiently.


GET STUCK IN
We all tend to put off tasks that we don't want to do: tasks that we see as daunting or tasks we feel ill-equipped to carry out. But guess what - if you use some of the simple techniques above, getting started will be easy! In saying that, another great productivity hack is delegation - sometimes it really is worth calling in the experts. I have been planning and designing weddings for 10 years, and my company, The Artful Event Co (theartfuleventco.com), provides wedding planning and styling support for super-stylish busy couples! Well, that's the end of my pomodoro, so I'm off to make a cuppa now that I've shown you some useful techniques that will hopefully make wedding planning easy rather than overwhelming!

Copyright Wed magazine 2018


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