What I’m offering here are tips and tricks to help streamline your wedding planning and actually GET SH*T DONE.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, hopefully this will help. Don’t let it get you down – you can do it, and it will all be worth it. And don’t forget, you aren’t in this alone. Ask for help, and if you can afford it, hire a professional for some jobs. DIY is great but it isn’t for everyone.
What do I know about all this? Well, in a former life I was an Exec PA at a FTSE 100 company, and managed the time of some of the most disorganised people you can imagine. I have balanced working full time, planning a wedding, starting a business and writing books. And most importantly, I’m an organising addict. I am addicted to getting things done, so I know what works.
I used to find it really difficult to get as much as I wanted to done – I still do, but that’s because the standards I set for myself are ridiculous. But then I realised that while I was really good at organising other people’s lives, I wasn’t applying those same practices to my own life. I was acting as though my things were so much less important than those of the people I was working for.
I became my own Exec PA, because it might not be important to anyone else if I don’t remember to set up my coffee machine the night before, but it will make a massive difference to my morning.
My jobs – your jobs – which are unpaid and only for our benefit are just as important as those which we are paid to do. You are worth organising your time and treating yourself with the respect you treat those you work for, or those you love.
Disclaimer – this isn’t for everyone. No one size fits all here. But what you might find is that once you start crossing things off your to-do list, you get hooked too;) Some of these things might seem obvious – great! It’s all part of the journey to getting things done.
1. Get Everything Down on Paper
You’ve probably started making lists already. You can’t sleep because of things popping into your head that need doing. Get it out of your brain and down onto your notebook app, some scrap paper, or in your gorgeous, shiny and new wedding notebook. What you want is a master list of everything that needs doing. Then, you need to break it down into small, easily achievable tasks. For example:
- Wedding Stationery:Check instagram for stationery ideas
- Compare stationers x 3Bespoke?
- Colour scheme?
- Matching on-the-day stationery?
- Price Range?
- Order stationery samplesFinalise details:
- RSVP date/method
- Guest list – numbers
- Day/Evening numbers
- Send details to stationer
- Collect addresses from guests
- Write 50 invitations
- Write 50 more invitations
- Post out invitations
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and depending on how you want your wedding to work, your stationery to-do list might look very different! But have a good think about every little job which makes up all your big jobs. Think about what you’d be likely to achieve in, say, 15 or 30 minutes. Having bite-size jobs makes it easier to complete – you’re more likely to find 15 minutes than an hour, and can slot your tasks in throughout the day.
Once you’re done, take a look at your undoubtedly massive list. Feel a wave of overwhelm and panic wash over you. Let it pass. Breathe. You got this. Remember – you don’t have to do everything yourself. Write initials next to the jobs you can delegate. You know almost everything that needs doing, and you know how long you have.
You have the POWER.
2. Decide What is a Priority, and Make it Non-Negotiable.
Every day this year (it’s almost November), I have done at least 10 minutes of yoga. I’m not telling you that to brag (much!;p), but I’m sharing it as an example of what can happen when you make something non-negotiable. You find the time in your schedule to make it work. I’ve got up half an hour early to do yoga before I had to go out all day. I’ve travelled to and from London in a day and got home at 8pm, and done yoga before I ate my dinner so I could crack on with the wine. I never thought I was the sort of person that could do that, but it’s the sort of person I want to be.
As soon as something is non-negotiable, you’re spending your time thinking about how to make it work, rather than how to get out of it. So for wedding planning, it might be non-negotiable that you and your partner need to sit down at some point during the week to discuss – and decide – your guest list. Eat the frog, and plan it in so you can open the wine after, or if you get it all done, you can get a takeaway as a reward. But regardless, it has to be done.
3. Get Yourself a Planner
I use a week-to-view diary for my planning. Because I have my master list of little jobs – which I can keep adding to, I don’t need to plan for, say, a month, 3 months, or 6 months at a time. I can be a lot more flexible when unexpected things arise. If you don’t want to buy a diary, or it isn’t the time of year for it, you can download loads of free, blank, weekly planners, draw one in your notebook in a couple of minutes, stick it on a whiteboard, or whatever you prefer.
Working one week at a time, pick your priorities from your master list, and slot the little jobs into your diary. I’d recommend adding in your day-to-day jobs too, like *clean bathroom*, *buy season ticket* and *go to Tesco*. You’re doing them anyway, and they get you into the habit of crossing things off. Once a task is completed, just cross it off. I score through with a line so I can still read it, but that’s because I like to be able to look back and see the things I’ve done.
Don’t forget to add in things you did that weren’t in your planner – and immediately cross them off!
I like to do my planning on a Sunday – be sure to write *plan for next week* on the following Sunday when you’re planning!
You will also have the satisfaction of crossing things off your master list, done in the previous week when you’re planning the next.
Sometimes, if I’m not sure how a job will turn out, or I’m not sure of what I’ve got on all week, I’ll only plan for a couple of days at a time, rather than the full week. It’s about making it work for you, and allowing yourself some flexibility.
I like to go easy on what I put in my planner on weekends. This means I can add in more if I’ve got time, go back to things I didn’t get to, or I can use my free time to do other tasks and get ahead of myself. But then again, I am a planner addict whose only idea of fun is strictly organised fun.
I have a Pusheen diary for this year, which is just DARLING, and the little pictures of cats make using it more fun. Next years’ is a bit more boring, but I needed it in July, when limited diaries were available. It’s still really pretty, and it has larger spaces so I can write in more little jobs.
4. Challenge Yourself
Once you’ve started, you might be surprised by how much you can get done. By making your master list, the most difficult part is over – thinking about what you need to do can take longer than actually doing one or two of your little jobs. You can crack a couple of these out in a lunch break, if you’ve planned ahead.
If one wedding task a day is working out, maybe knock it up to two some days! If you’ve a really busy day coming up, find one of the more fun or quick tasks (eg looking at instagram for inspo/texting your third cousin for her address) and pop it in on that day.
5. Cut Yourself some Slack
Unexpected things happen. Sometimes you have a bad day, there’s a traffic jam, you just need to sleep. Other people need your time, you have to work late, or what you thought was a little job turns into a big one.
Don’t stress. You got this, remember?
That’s the beauty of working through these little, little jobs, and only planning up to a week at a time. You can cross it off another day. You can push it back to next week. You can give it to someone else to do. The important thing is that you’re in control of everything that needs doing, and you can move things around. You know what’s non-negotiable and what there’s some flexibility with.
There are days – and weeks – where the best thing for me has been to ignore my planner, or not plan at all. If it’s all too much, give yourself a break. You deserve it. Planning a wedding should be fun for you, not just the day itself. You are allowed to go at your own pace.
And here’s another thing – plan in some fun. Yes, I love organised fun, but that’s not what I mean here. Plan doing nice things. Schedule in a long bath for yourself, or a film you want to watch, or to read a couple of chapters of a romance novel. Schedule in some time with your partner where you don’t talk about the wedding, perhaps over a romantic dinner. Be nice to yourself.
6. Bask in Your Own Brilliance.
As you work through your week, and then go back to your master list, you’re going to start to be pleasantly surprised by how much you’ve got done. Suddenly, big jobs are completed and you barely broke a sweat.
Using a planner and crossing things off works best for me because I can look back at a week and see everything I achieved. There’s no way I can remember everything I’ve done each day, but when I look back at what I’ve crossed out, I’m genuinely always surprised by how much I’ve done.
I do find that putting something in the planner means it has a higher chance of getting done. Little things I’d otherwise forget, like *take dinner out of the freezer*, *brush the cat* or *soak beans for tomorrow’s tea* get done because I don’t even have to think about it. I just look in my planner.
So them’s the tips. I know it’s not for everyone but I really hope it helps. The most important thing I can suggest it writing that big list. Seeing exactly what needs doing, physically in front of you, gives you so much more control over what you can get done and how and when you do it.
What do you find helps you get stuff done? Are you a planner devotee? Or if you’re struggling, what do you find your biggest obstacles are? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!