Top five tips for avoiding stress and burnout in the events industry

While it may not come as a surprise to event professionals that their job involves a bit of stress, they may be shocked to discover how stress levels in the events industry compare to other industries.

Year on year Career Cast considers the role of Event Coordinator to be within the top ten most stressful jobs. In 2018 it's ranked #5 on the stress test behind Military Personnel, Military Generals, Firefighters, Airline Pilots and Police.
So to help you get through your day job in the Events Industry we thought we would share with you a few ways we have learnt to stay on top of stress and avoid burnout. 

1. Get organised – write a list!

Staying organised and on top of your workload will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed with the multitude of tasks required to plan an event. One simple way to get organised and feel in control of your day is to write a list. 
We can tell you are nodding – event professionals love lists! But are you using your lists efficiently? 
In order for your list to be as effective as possible, you need to break down tasks into manageable actions. For example, do not write ‘do invites’. Break this down into manageable tasks that will take you step by step through what needs to be achieved, e.g. finalise artwork for invitations, proof guest list, order envelopes etc…
And just like getting a new pair of runners to help entice you to the gym, duck into Kikki.K (or your favourite stationary shop) and pick up some cool to-do lists to help you feel inspired. Or for something super awesome, we love Amelia Lane Paper and their range of Life Planners (the 2019 designs are gorgeous and a favourite in the Event Birdie office! #stationarygeek)


2. Give yourself a lunch break

How many of you honestly take a lunch break? And we don’t mean scoffing down a sandwich at your desk while frantically replying to emails with one hand. 
You need to get out of the office!
It is very easy to get into the habit of not taking a break during the day. However, the act of taking a break will help relax your mind and you will find you will be more productive in the afternoon. 
So here are a few tips for making a lunch break a daily habit:
  1. If you buy lunch, make a habit of walking to a sandwich shop that is a few blocks away, rather than visiting the shop right next door. 
  2. If you bring your lunch to work, then why not take a 15 minute walk before you prepare/ eat your lunch.
  3. Try taking your lunch outside to a nearby park – enjoy the sunshine and breathe in some fresh air. 

A little side note – as much as we would all like to take an hour long break, this is not always going to be possible working in the events industry. However, the tips above do not take much time and will help you refocus for the rest of the afternoon/evening. 

3. Read before bed

This may sound like a silly tip to add here, but this really works. In my former years as an Event Coordinator, I would go to bed thinking of the long list of things I had to action the next day. Over and over in my mind I would think about the meetings, the emails and the phone calls I had to attend to the next day. I would even wake in the middle of the night – stressed – looking for a pad and pen to write down something I feared I would forget in the morning. 
If this sounds familiar, firstly, you need to get into the habit of writing your to-do list for the next day before you leave the office. Secondly, by reading before bed (preferably fiction, not Facebook) your mind will switch off from the daily grind, relax and be entertained. And, if you’re like me, it will only take a few pages before you’ll be quietly dozing off to a happy night’s sleep.


4. Take a mini break

Hard working Australians are known to save up their annual leave for a four week trip overseas during the quiet time of the year. However, what this means is that for the other 48 weeks of the year we are working non-stop. With a constant, high pressure work load, event professionals need to take more breaks, more often.
We understand that taking time off during the peak periods may seem difficult, however making time for a mini break every few months will help to avoid burnout. 
We suggest taking a day or two off either side of a weekend and heading out of town. The act of leaving town and waking up in a new place will do wonders for your sanity. By distancing yourself from work and the office you will immediately feel refreshed and ready to take on the next event. Why not start planning for the Easter / ANZAC Day week coming up?


5. Let it go

No, we’re not talking about dancing around to Disney’s hit song from Frozen (although that is also a great stress release). We’re talking about letting go of the small things- the minute details that many event professionals can become obsessed about. 
You need to let it go! 
There are a lot of elements involved in planning events and attention to detail is usually what makes good event professionals stand out from the rest. However, if you are a perfectionist to the point that you cannot let some things go, you will struggle to control your event day stress. 
Events are an ever changing beast - the client will change their mind, something will go wrong, and ultimately plans will have to be changed. So don’t plan for every possibility, plan to be adaptable. This will mean you will be a lot less stressed leading up to the event and, come event day, you will be able to react and adapt more efficiently to any issues that arise.


Final words...

So there you have it, five ways we have learnt to stay on top of our stress and avoid burnout. Do you have any other great stress busting tips that help you get on with your day job? If so, we’d love you to share them in the comments below.

*Originally published in July 2014 [updated and refreshed since then]
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash