Re-entry, by technical definition, is a second entry or a return into the earth’s atmosphere. Meeting planners might relate to the latter definition, because that’s often how it feels returning to the office after planning and executing a large event. Re-entry is never easy and often leaves feelings of withdrawal from the intense pre-event workload and chaotic on-site schedule. The life of a meeting planner is a roller coaster with the highs and lows of the event calendar. Maintaining a balance before and after events is challenging yet crucial to avoiding burnout. Meeting planning ranked No. 6 on a recent list of the 10 most stressful jobs in America. A few simple disciplines may help ease the stress of the job and re-entry.
1. Anticipate re-entry.
A roller coaster feeling is inevitable in the event industry and post-program blues can be avoided with proactive disciplines. Mentally prepare yourself for your return, says Carine Clark, chief marketing office and senior vice president of Symantec. “On your return flight home, put some structure to the list of things you need to accomplish when you get back,” she suggests. Prioritize this list and do not force yourself to tackle all of it in one day. Pace yourself back into a normal routine.
2. Look to your friends and family to facilitate the transition back to daily life.
Often family and friends are neglected when planner schedules get busy, and it is important to devote some time to them upon a large event’s completion. “Make sure you have personal relationships outside of work—people who do not know what F&B means,” says Clark. They can help you focus on things other than work. And, don’t forget to bring home some fun swag in return. “People who have never been to a trade show love the stuff you bring home,” she says.
3. Don’t forget:
It’s OK to feel excited and pleased with an event’s success. Take the time to reward yourself for a job well done. You have worked long hours pre-event and on-site, and it’s important to give yourself some attention to stay healthy. Tahira Endean, CMP, director of creative and production at Cantrav, says “[Take] a little time, even if you only have one evening, to be kind yourself.” Indulge in a relaxing activity, whether that’s an afternoon at the spa or movie theater or going on a long bike ride.
4. Manage the re-entry.
Fiercely protecting your time and building boundaries might ease the transition, says Clark. Pre-blocking your schedule prior to your departure and managing your time post-event will allow you to find balance and tackle the to-do list at a normal pace. Marti Fox, CMP, CMM, plans her first day back in the office with no meetings or conference calls and has one task on her calendar: wrap up project.
5. Get up-to-date on the latest industry trends and foster your professional networks.
Once you have wrapped up the project and feel comfortable with the state of your to-do list, invest some time into “sharpening your saw,” suggests Clark. Read industry magazines that piled up on your desk, clean out your old files and reach out to some old events friends for a brainstorming session. Avoid saying “I should do that” and make it happen as soon as you return to normal work life.
6. Look forward to going through re-entry again. Veteran or newbie, you likely thrive on the adrenaline rush from the roller coaster that is a meeting planner’s life. Put yourself in a position where you can enjoy the re-entry process and look forward to your next big project. The highs and lows are unavoidable, and developing a healthy appetite for them helps make you a multi-faceted meeting planner. Get excited to tackle that to-do list and enjoy investing in your relationships and yourself.
Managing re-entry and accepting that it’s not easy to get back into a more normal, slower routine can be difficult, but with the right self-discipline, it can be done. Think of re-entry as a reward, not a burden, for your hard work and great event success.