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Defining Your Workflow: Taking Control of Your Work So It Doesn’t Control You

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Photo courtesy Shane and Lauren Photography

I want to start today’s post with a simple question: Why are you a wedding planner?

In many of our answers you’ll find two common threads: (1) the love of creativity and the desire to offer creative direction to others, and, (2) the desire to work for ourselves, to set our own schedule and to not be a slave to the stranglehold of a plan or timeline that doesn’t best suit our lifestyle.

I started wedding planning years ago and, for my first six years in business, found that, even though I was technically “setting my own schedule,” I was working 12-, sometimes 14-hour days (so much for the whole “not being a slave” thing). I also found that I was so quickly burnt out from these long (I mean loooooong) days, that I was too tired to enjoy the creative aspects of the job that I so loved (and that led me to become a planner in the first place). Talk about a swing and a miss.

I eventually found — based on years of experience — that it came down to one thing. (Disclaimer: it’s not a sexy or creative or fun thing.) It came down to workflow and, specifically, my complete lack of a defined workflow (I was working from loose checklists that were doing nothing for me). One day, then, I did something I’d been avoiding like the plague: I sat down and defined — truly defined — my workflow. Essentially, I detailed out my process and created a highly organized checklist that I vowed to use for every event I planned from there on out. From this simple process (why I’d been avoiding it so long, I’ll never know), I ended up with a detailed list that ultimately helped streamline my workflow and minimize my likelihood of becoming distracted during the planning process. The bottom line is this: rather being reactive, we have to be proactive. We have to utilize the hours we are given effectively and efficiently. Enter: Aisle Planner’s Checklist.

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All our our planning tools are anchored by one thing: a highly functional checklist with the sole purpose of guiding you (and your couples) through the planning process. If you already have a planning checklist and have already documented the workflow that you like to follow, simply replicate this within your checklist template. If you don’t have a defined checklist (me, years ago, with all of my bottles of wine and late nights), set aside some time — a decent amount of time — to do so. It’s the best piece of advice I can offer you — to create a formula that you can apply across the board to every event you plan. From beginning to end, this workflow should begin with the steps you take when first signing a new client all the way through to the post-processing of their images. We like to think of it as defining your workflow from tip to tail.

Once you’ve done that, reward yourself with a spa day, first and foremost, and then simply copy and paste the list you’ve come up with into your checklist template. This is key, not only for your own sanity and peace of mind, but for making the Aisle Planner platform perform at its absolute best for you (everything we designed in Aisle Planner hinges from the idea of that one overarching checklist).

It’s also so important to have a documented workflow so that, in a pinch, others on your team can dive in and help keep the planning process moving forward in your absence (hello, early maternity leave/3-week vacation/unexpected emergencies). And, remember, if you’re not driving the planning process, your clients are (and all bets are off at that point).

Think of it this way: if your child wants to make brownies, you don’t just hand them the ingredients and say “have at it.” There’s an order to things, a prescription for the way things should be done–wet ingredients first, dry ingredients next. You help them measure and tell them what goes into the mix when — it’s the only way to end up with a final product you’ll actually want to eat. Likewise, starting the wedding-planning process with a defined checklist is like handing your clients a recipe to follow. They’ll know what steps they’re taking first, what steps come next and what steps follow that. They’ll be much less likely to jump around or convolute your planning process if they’re working from a straightforward checklist that guides their every move.

Ultimately, I really can’t say enough about the importance of defining and documenting your workflow, but, to avoid me rambling, I highly recommend checking out these two must-reads:

  1. Joelle Duff’s “How to Automate and Document Your Workflow”
  2. And, from the ladies at Sage Wedding Pros: “Client Management for Wedding Pros Part 4: Documenting Systems”

And, as always, we’re here to help. If you’ve got your workflow well documented but don’t have the time to set it up in Aisle Planner, just reach out to us. We are more than happy to help you digitize your workflow in Aisle Planner. So, you’ve got no more excuses: here’s to remembering why we became planners in the first place and taking control of every event we plan!

About the Author

Christina Farrow
Christina Farrow

As Aisle Planner’s President and Founder, Christina Farrow spends her days dreaming up ways to empower wedding planners to lead more balanced (and more organized) lives. She loves few things more than her toes in the sand, a glass of champagne and the promise of a great adventure with hubby, daughter and golden retriever by her side.

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