When It’s Over, It’s Over: How to End with Grace and Finality

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Art of Gathering"

By Katie Corbett


It can be easy to let events extend well beyond the point at which they should end. The reality is that all things, no matter how good or fun, must come to an eventual end. Knowing this and taking it into consideration will keep guests from getting bored, parties from going on too long, or people continuing to meet well beyond the purpose of the initial meetings.


The book “The Art of Gathering,” by Priya Parker, talks about when to end, and the importance of ending with finality.


I recently planned a virtual brunch to celebrate Easter with friends. I stayed attuned to the room and the moods of my guests, waiting for the natural wind-down point. A few announced they had to go, and I checked with the others to see if ending at that point would be a good idea.


I was once at a party that ended a bit sooner than expected. I had to trust that the host knew what she was doing as the ending was announced.


Going to parties at my parents’ house can be exhausting, because there is not a definitive endpoint. I have started making endings for myself—when the timer goes off letting me know it’s time to go home to feed the dog, once I have been there a certain amount of time, or after cake and presents. This helps me feel like I can bring the event to a close and move on with my day. Don’t leave your guests feeling like they have no option but to stay if the event has truly ended.


Keep in mind that with masterminds and groups that have become close, the temptation will arise to continue the event long after it should have ended. Being firm about that ending helps create a sense of finality for the attendees. You will need to be firm with your guests about this and explain why the end is a hard stop, as some will want to continue meeting.


Do you have a story about an event that ended too soon or dragged on forever? Let me know in the comments.


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The Event Experience Starts Well Before the Party

By Katie Corbett


When it comes to planning events, it is a good idea to keep the entire experience in mind. Many just plan the event itself, though this is a bit short-sighted. The entirety of an event begins as soon as your guests learn of the event, and ends sometimes well after the event has taken place.


In the book “The Art of Gathering,” by Priya Parker, it is noted that as soon as guests become aware of your event, the experience has started for them. Create an experience as soon as the invitations go out. This will set you apart from others who host events, as many questions guests might have will be answered in advance. This is good because it will make your guests feel prepared to attend your event.


I recently took on a leadership role planning a book club. My co-host and I thought about what we would want to know as attendees well before the first meeting. We made sure information went out in advance, sent reminders to sign up, ensured participants knew where to get a copy of the book, and were aware of what chapters to read before the first meeting, among many other pieces of information.


These preparations could be used for any type of party. What to bring, any information that could be gathered to make game play more interesting, and even knowing in advance with whom they will be sitting will put guests at ease as they come to your event.


Do you have an event coming up that you’re excited to plan? I’d love to hear all about it, so feel free to leave me a comment.


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The Perfect Way to Make Time and Balance Energy for Everything

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Renaissance Soul"

By Katie Corbett


Having a weekly to-do list is a practice I have held for almost three years. It helps me get things done and remain productive, yet stay flexible and alert to fluctuations in my energy levels. Rather than writing in specific activities at specified times, I can follow my list and do things in the time blocks I set aside for to-do list items.


I was thrilled when I saw this practice suggested in the book, “The Renaissance Soul,” by Margaret Lobenstine. The author suggests setting aside blocks of time to do work on Focal Point activities and making a list of what needs to get done. Then, when it is time to work on Focal Point activities, you can choose what you want to do based on your time and energy.


Recently, I wanted to work on my business Focal Point. I only wanted to spend an hour-and-a-half working, and according to my weekly to-do list, I could either follow up on current projects, write a one-page brochure about my services, or schedule meetings with potential clients. I decided to focus on the latter because I wanted my brain to be in a more strategic space when writing the brochure and a happier space when doing follow-ups. I know, though, that because the brochure and the follow-ups are on this week’s to-do list, they will get done.


What will you be putting on your list for each of your Focal Points this week? When will your Focal Point activity time blocks occur? Let me know what you decide to do with your allotted time in the comments. I’d love to hear what you are working on.


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Beat Procrastination: Prepare Thoroughly Before you Begin

Katie Corbett holds a book

By Katie Corbett

When working on a project, we have all had the experience of getting halfway through and needing to stop because you don’t have something you need. I have done this occasionally and find it time-consuming and frustrating. I started looking for a solution.

When I read the book, “Eat that Frog,” by Brian Tracy, I learned it can be helpful to prepare in advance and gather everything I need before starting. I decided to test this with social media writing I needed to do for work.

Before I gave preparing a try, I would sit down to write posts for Facebook and Twitter and would have to stop in the middle of writing to gather information, such as links, hashtags and quotes, for my posts. My writing took a long time and it wasn’t very creative, since I kept getting interrupted by the need for information. Things had to change, so I developed a new plan. Here’s what I’m doing now, which works much better.

I try my best to write social media posts on Wednesdays. Wednesday morning, I gather all the materials I need for each post I plan to write that day. I put everything – links, notes, hashtags, photo ideas – into a text file so it is all in one place. I then take a break for lunch and come back that afternoon refreshed and ready to get my creative juices flowing.

Working this way over the past couple months, I have noticed being able to get more done in less time, working with fewer interruptions, greater clarity on what I should be writing, and the ability to separate the writing and the research.

Whatever your project might be, from a book you are writing, to a business you are building, to an event you are planning, to a cake you are baking, I recommend making a list of everything you will need and gathering as much of it as you can in advance. Let me know how it goes in the comments. I hope it will help you be more efficient and get things done faster.

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Why Your Weekend Needs a Plan

Katie Corbett holds a book

By Katie Corbett

Many people don’t think about their weekend plans until it’s Friday. They might think planning shouldn’t be undertaken when deciding how to spend their leisure time. People also tend to think about the weekend as one large chunk of time. I’ve started thinking differently, and it’s been a game-changer.

Laura Vanderkam, time management expert and author of the book, “What the Most Successful People do on the Weekend”, suggests planning some aspects of the weekend in advance and thinking about the weekend in chunks. I have tried this and feel I have gained much more satisfaction out of my weekend. Here is what a typical weekend looks like for me:

Friday Night: Go to a fish fry with my husband, spend time reading fiction.
Saturday Morning: Run errands, decide on a plan for the day.
Saturday Afternoon: Go antiquing, take a nap, spend time outdoors, solve a crossword puzzle.
Saturday Night: Get dinner with friends, read fiction.
Sunday Morning: Go to church, have brunch.
Sunday Afternoon: Finish up errands, read a magazine.
Sunday Night: Volunteer, participate in a book club, plan for the week ahead.

As you can see, some aspects of my weekend, such as plans with others, need to be determined in advance. Other activities can be done if and when I have the energy and desire. Separating the weekend hours into these seven blocks of time gives me the freedom to both plan and relax. Also, I can think about what I did in each of the seven blocks and am less likely to feel like I wasted an entire weekend.

If you planned your weekend in the seven time blocks, what might it look like? Give it a try and see how it works for you.

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Moving Forward: Planning Goals Each Week

Katie Corbett holds the book "I Know How She Does It."

By Katie Corbett

When going through life day-to-day, it can be hard to see the ways in which we have moved forward. Progression, however, is a criterion necessary for satisfaction. Otherwise, how will we know we are heading in the direction we want to go? How will we be confident we are taking solid, concrete steps to get us there?

I first found a strategy for addressing forward momentum in Laura Vanderkam’s Ted Talk, and she mentions it in her book “I Know How She Does It,” as well. She says to develop 3 goals in each of 3 areas of life: career, relationships and self. Do this at around the same time each week. Laura suggests Friday afternoons, since Friday afternoons are the least productive time of the workweek. I have found this strategy very helpful in moving forward in these important areas of life, though I found that planning on Sunday afternoon or evening works better for me, since sometimes I set goals for events or items I have planned for that weekend. I write my goals on my phone, since I always have it with me. This makes it easier to review my goals throughout the week.

One of the many benefits I have gained from this practice is pushing myself to do things that scare me, but are necessary to making progress. As an example, I needed to order materials for the product I’m developing. This involved calling a fabric retailer in Chicago, which seemed intimidating at the time. Because I had it on my goals list, however, I talked myself into making the call.

Now, I’m not perfect, and there are weeks I don’t accomplish everything on my list. If it comes time to set next week’s goals and I realize there is a goal I did not achieve, I ask myself if the goal is still something I want to accomplish and, if so, add it to the list for the next week.

Another thing I will mention is the importance of setting goals that don’t depend on the actions of others to accomplish. Instead of writing “Have conversation with my sister,” I would write, “Send a text message to my sister.” That way, all I have to do is send the text. If she doesn’t reply, or says she is too busy for a chat, I will still have met my goal because I reached out to her.

Just as an example, my goals for this week are:

• Career: (1) Meet with friend to brainstorm ways to reach employees of a certain company who might benefit from career coaching; (2) Take the minutes for the staff meeting at work; (3) Contact paralegal for product development paperwork status.
• Relationships: (1) Praise hubby for 10 things he does well; (2) Go to networking event on Thursday; (3) Go to girls’ night on Tuesday.
• Self: (1) Read at least 1 fiction book; (2) Give dog her medicine Saturday night; (3) Call for information about conference discount.

What goals will you set this week for your career, relationships and self? When will you write them down? Where will you write them down? Do they rely on the actions of others to achieve, or is their accomplishment solely dependent on you? Have fun with this activity. If done consistently, you will start to see yourself intentionally making progress toward living the life you want.

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To Find your Dream Job, Design your Ideal Life

Katie Corbett holds the book "Coach Yourself to Success" by Talane Miedaner.

By Katie Corbett

When I was job hunting, it was easy to apply for any job just because it was an available job. I applied for many jobs I didn’t want, and interviewed for positions I was not enthusiastic about holding. I looked into fields I thought would be ideal, only to discover they involved crazy hours or commission-only pay. I didn’t think about what kind of job I wanted until I was encouraged to design what life I hoped to have.

I was flying home in February 2015 from visiting my then-boyfriend in San Diego for Valentine’s Day. I read “Coach Yourself to Success,” by Talane Miedaner, and came to the tip about designing my ideal life. The author states that it is easier to find a job that fits into the life you want, rather than trying to live your life around a job you hate. I thought back to my days in data entry and to the amazing two jobs I had held after that and realized this advice had some merit. I pulled out a piece of paper and a slate and stylus–which is a writing implement used to write in braille–and got to work designing my life.

My ideal job involved working for 20-30 hours per week, having time to read and write for pleasure, spending time with my significant other going to new restaurants and sight-seeing after work and on the weekends. The point is, I thought about what I wanted, wrote it down, and kept this vision in my mind as I continued my job hunt.

About a year-and-a-half later, I landed a job working for a local healthcare company in their communications department. The job was part-time, so I was working 33 hours per week. At the same time, I began dating the man who would become my husband. (We both enjoy going on day trips and he can usually be persuaded to try a new restaurant every now and then.) While at this temp position, I ended up meeting the woman who hired me for my current job in communications working 25 hours per week. That made for two ideal jobs in a row, and all thanks to my lifestyle design. Try it out for yourself. Here are some questions to get you started:

1. Where do you want to live?
2. What kind of work do you want to be doing?
3. How many hours per day or per week do you want to work?
4. How do you want to spend your time when not working?
5. Who–or what kind of people–do you want in your life?

Start living as many aspects of your ideal life as you can now. If you have written down the answers to these questions and keep the ideas firmly planted in your mind, the rest of your ideal life will likely fall into place. It won’t happen overnight, but the ideal life is worth taking the time to create.

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