How to save time with a to don’t list

After abandoning the to do list we call out the beginning of to don’t lists. Exactly, we are going to make a list of task and ideas that we won’t bother ourselves with anymore. Why should we do this?

Everybody is extremely busy these days. Especially meeting planners often complain how they try to keep their heads above the water, hurrying from one appointment to the next. As Meredith Fineman explains in a very inspiring article, many of us wear ‘busy’ as a badge of honour: it makes us look important, demanded and successful. But the reality is that we miss precious quality time, because we are not working efficiently, pick up work from others or spend too much time on unnecessary tasks.

Fineman’s suggestion is to work smart instead of (just) hard by managing our time more efficiently. The first crucial step is to detect and delete dispensable tasks from our schedules. By putting such tasks on a to don’t list, we remind ourselves to spend no time on them anymore. This means, we won’t work on them, we won’t talk bout them, we won’t even think about them. Here is how you make a to don’t list.

1. Check your daily schedule

Write down all the activities you perform each day. Then, go through the list and answer the following questions for each activity:

  • does it make me happy?
  • is it essential and/or helpful to my career?
  • does it have a good cost/benefit ratio?

2. Scrap and delete

If you can’t answer at least two of these questions with yes, delete the task from your schedule and put it on your to don’t list.

3. Stop doing it

From now on, you won’t spend a second on tasks on your to don’t list. You should not even think about them.

It might hurt you to abandon some tasks. I used to write a short column for a small local newspaper published by friends of mine. The writing cost me precious hours and I was not paid for my work. Deleting this task felt like deserting my friends. Finally, they were quite fine with it and I have more time for myself. You will see that you won’t miss the extra workload.

Now it’s your turn

Do you check your speaker’s slides before his presentation? Do you clean each item in the meeting room twice? Do you take over tasks from the caterer, the waitress or the CEO? Which tasks would you put on your to don’t list? I’d love to hear your story.


#PlannersAre: Let’s reinvent the profile of the meeting planner

We have come very far with this blog by exploring green meetings and meeting design. We celebrated the very last Queen’s Day together and warmed up for IMEX in Frankfurt. Time to pay attention to the probably most important people of the meeting industry, the people who prepare, organize and manage all our events and conferences – the meeting planners.

Blog Holland Meeting planners multi tasking


It was meeting planner and blogger Kendra McMurray who inspired me to this topic with her blogpost ‘We are more than just “Planners”‘. She created a crowdsourced list with all the labels and attributes that characterize a meeting planner. During the next weeks I would like to add more body to her list and that’s where YOU come into play.

Meeting planners are…

During IMEX in Frankfurt 2013 I asked people to fill in the sentence “Meeting planners are…” and I was able to collect many great suggestions. Now I would like to work them out, together with you. I want your stories and anecdotes that illustrate the hats that planners have to wear.

Blog Holland IMEX Frankfurt 2013 7

Please tell me your story

Have you ever had to act like a researcher? A designer? A host? A nurse? Or a negotiator? And give me a personal example for this role? Let’s show the industry how wide the capacities of a planner can reach. Let’s reinvent the profile of the meeting planner. Are you in?

Don’t be afraid of meeting design!

Have you met my friend Mike van der Vijver at IMEX in Frankfurt? He is meeting designer and co-author of the book Into the Heart of Meetings. During the last weeks I dived into his book and was fascinated about the power and impact of well organized meetings. In my previous posts Mike told us a lot about the the importance and advantages of meeting design and I strongly believe that it belongs to the future of our industry. But why are so few people using this power? Why does the majority of meetings still resemble the atmosphere of a lecture room? Here are the main reasons why meeting design is not booming yet.

Blog Holland Meeting design Mike van der Vijver IMEX Frankfurt 2013

1. Meeting planners see no other options

Did you know that even small changes, like the way people are seated or the venue you choose can influence the outcome of your meeting? Many meeting planners think that their meeting would not allow dramatical changes. Planners who organize scientific conferences for instance are convinced that this type of meetings allows no other options. Mike tells us that there are enough alternatives that won’t change the character of the meeting but can improve the outcome and increase participant satisfaction.

2. Meeting owners are better safe then sorry

The meeting owner often pursues several goals when planning a meeting. One of them is maintaining the company’s identity and tradition. Therefore many meeting owner would not want to change their settings, since a failed experiment could harm the company’s good reputation. Better safe than sorry. But according to Mike, there is no need to worry. In most cases, participants will be glad if you present them something new.

Holland EIBTM Dutch Education

3. Speakers lack the courage

Speakers are content providers and therefore a crucial factor for meetings. But many of them like to see themselves in the role of an expert who transmits knowledge to a uniform audience. In the best case, the audience will be too polite to fall alseep. If you want to provide more exciting and engaging content you need speakers who are willing to leave the familiar powerpoint pathway and abandon their expert role. This requires an open attitude and courage to face a discussion without a predetermined story.

4. PCMO’s and DMC’s forget about the content

Many meeting organisers among the PCMOS and DMCs focus too much on the logistics of a meetings – destination, venue, time, date and suppliers. We often forget about the meeting itself, the content and the format. We accept the standard lecture room model without exploring possible alternatives and variations. “There are several organizations who understand the value of meeting design,” says Mike, “but most of them refuse it because they are afraid that design experiments could damage their relationship with the meeting owner.”

So, do you dare to try something new?

If we want better and more effective meetings we need to remove the traditional lecture room idea of meetings from our heads and be open for change. Your attendees will be happy if you try something new and satisifed participants are likely to come back for another meeting.

But how can you do that? What are your experiences with meeting design? Please share them with me.

Best shots of #IMEX13 in Frankfurt

I hope that you are fully recovered from the busy trade show days in Frankfurt. I think it’s time to look back at a great time with many great people. Here is my personal selection of IMEX shots. Which one is your favourite?

I hope that you all have arrived home safely and comfortably. It would be great if we could meet again in London, Las Vegas or Barcelona this year. Will you be there? Please let me know!

Live report from the orange Holland Meeting Point at #IMEX13

IMEX 2013 in Frankfurt is in full swing. We are having a lot of fun at our Holland booth and I have met countless great people. Here are a some snapshots to give you an impression of what is going on here.

Blog Holland IMEX Frankfurt 2013 booths

Have you met my friend Mike van der Vijver yet? He is here to answer all your questions about meeting design and give you tips to improve your meetings. Would you like to meet him? You can still schedule an appointment.

Blog Holland IMEX Frankfurt 2013 Meeting Design

Can you spell your name in Korean? Well, that’s mine. At least, that’s what they told me.

Blog Holland IMEX Frankfurt 2013 Korean

What defines a meeting planner? We ask visitors to fill in the right speech bubble. What would your answer be?

Blog Holland IMEX Frankfurt 2013 Meeting planners

Are you coming to the IMEX tweet-up? It will start at 16.30 at my booth (E100). Be quick and register now.

Blog Holland IMEX Frankfurt 2013 Booth

I wish you a great trade show. Maybe you still have time to pay me a visit? Looking forward to meeting you!

Meet me and my friends at #IMEX13

Just a few days to go before the international meeting and event industry will gather in Frankfurt for IMEX 2013.  I am really excited to meet you all, so just watch out for my orange suit and make sure that the Holland Meeting Point lies on your direction. We have prepared some orange specials for you.

Blog Frankfurt IMEX_holland-stand_1

Free meeting design consult

Have you already noticed the glasses in my new avatar? They are original Dutch design and I am wearing them because the Holland stand at IMEX13 will be devoted to meeting design. For this special occasion I will bring my friend Mike van de Vijver, meeting designer and co-author of the book Into the Heart of Meetings. Maybe my latest blogposts made you curious about Mike’s profession? You are welcome to ask him all your questions about meeting design. Just make an appointment with him.

Be a shooting star

Wouldn’t it be nice to meet in Frankfurt and take a funny photo together? So, if you spot me just come over and we will pose for the camera. This photo might also be your ticket to win a copy of Mike’s book Into the Heart of Meetings.

Blog Holland IMEX Frankfurt 2013 tweetup

IMEX 2013 #Eventprofs & #EUventprofs Tweetup

Once again we agreed to be the hosts for our 4th IMEX Tweet-up. Place: Holland Meeting Point (Stand E100). For questions your can contact the organizer: Anne Thornley-Brown, President, Executive Oasis International and Group Manager, Event Planning and Event Management on LinkedIn. There is space for a maximum of 40 people so please RSVP right here!


Are you ready to meet my friends? These are the partners you can meet at the Holland booth:

Regional Convention Bureaus

Destination Management Companies

Convention Centres

Hotel Chains

Individual Hotels

Special venues

Travel Solutions

Will I meet you?

On which days will you be at IMEX? I’d love to meet you, so if you are up to something send me a mail, tweet me or leave a comment.