By Katherine Turiano
Lately I have been on a big kick to simplify, to drop the weight of what is not essential to my happiness and productivity inevent planning. I have studied the works of well-known organizing professionals—well, if studying is allowed to be defined as listening to audio books in my car while stuck in traffic. I listened to Julie Morgenstern and Peter Walsh so much that the CDs scratched, but blessedly by then their message had sunk in: get back to basics and leave everything that doesn’t help your productivity behind.
When I think about what is essential to my success as an event planner, I laugh a little. What is essential is the only thing I had in my hand when I walked into my first event planning firm over a decade ago: a legal pad and pen. In other words, a good list.
My first list started as a swiftly-scribbled and desperate attempt to catch what I was supposed to complete from the owner of my first event production firm. He yelled from an NYC loft where he simultaneously threw down event supplies needing to be packed. By a couple of years ago, I was calling my list an “operations report” and keeping track of status with color-coded type on an Excel spreadsheet. By then I thought it was a landmark occasion that I could update the status on my laptop from an airport.
When I joined The Wakeman Agency, Vanessa Wakeman led me through the navigation of a tailored, networked system that allows both client and event producer to see and be reminded of start dates and deadlines, as well as to share a plan where each can add notes and updates. I knew right then that this agency had taken what is essential to an event planner’s work and expanded upon it exponentially to the benefit of both the event planner and client. Producing a large-scale event is an overwhelming undertaking, but a project plan can break down even the most impossible request into manageable tasks that—if well timed—result in the magic of a seamless event.