What is important?

When it is urgent, it is not good..

20 March 2015

What a fantastic party we had in May last year! We had the VriMiBo at ZZPlace and it was so much better than expected. We danced, laughed, ate pap & chakalaka, and the beer & wine was cold. All went smoothly with not much stress, thanks to a good preparation and planning. Rookie team Forever Young did a fantastic job; we could have not done it without them! A couple of expected stressful moments were around travel times (it always takes longer; traffic jams, finding parking space..) and the cooking of the boerewors and devil’s chicken on the barbeque and serving food for 60+ people was a bit hectic.

But why was it a success? Actually… we do not know yet. It was one of the best parties so far in 2014, best as in fun, good food, constant supply of drinks, good company, busy and just FUN FUN FUN (oh, did I mention that already?). Check the videos to get a taste of the mood at the party.

At least 1 of the targets have been met: A Friday after work drink extra large. It was busy, a great mix of people. The crowd varied from South African expats to students, tenants who work at ZZPlace and friends of the artists. The Rookie students also made their target; they wanted to make profit and they did!! We were able to pay all artists a small free from the donation box and cover EJ’s train costs. The main target was to put ZZPlace on the map and get more tenants to rent a work space; we have to wait and see whether we succeeded in that.

After cleaning up, doing the admin and tracing lost items, I immediately move on to the next events. Roger Williams is having a show in Cafe de Duivel for which an opening party has to be arranged. The date is set for 20 June, but there is still quite a lot to do. I am happy that Rookie students Rachelle and Jill from team Wombass are supporting me, because even though this might be a small event, there is always much more to do if you want it to run smoothly without too much stress. Of course we have to set SMART objectives; why do we organise this event? And then we have to deal with some legal matters (who is paying for printing the artwork? Who pays the welcome drinks and snacks?). We want to organise something different, to attract more people and add something special to the event. And for the artist it would be nice to get some recognition through editorials in the (written) press. We will be writing a press release and invite some journalists.

On 11 July we have a big event; DJ DNA presents Kaapstad meets Kytopia in BAUT, Amsterdam. Another Music & Braai, with a so-called Bring & Braai; you bring your own food for the barbeque. From 20:00hrs there will be live performances from EJ von LYRIK, PinKi & DA Bruin (bFAKE) and Mr. Sakitumi & The Grrl alongside DJ DNA (Urban Dance Squad) and musicians from Kytopia.


What is the challenge here? Not to get carried away by too many urgent matters. I can get caught in putting a lot of time in jobs that are not important nor urgent. I like organising events, but it is not the focus of my business. Master Your Ability is more about knowledge sharing and I should be aware that I do not get carried away trying to set up good events but to put my time and effort in maters that are more important in the long run.

It is very easy to work on the things you like best. It is also easy to deal with urgent matters. When a deadline approaches, people feel the pressure and get stressed to get work done in time. However, if you plan well, the quality of your product increases immensely and the stress levels decrease. You should avoid getting in the top left quadrant; you do not want to deal with too many tasks that are both urgent and important. Focus should be on the bottom right; plan a good percentage of your working day to work on important matters.

Urgent Important Matrix

Two examples:

Master Your Ability, my mission is knowledge sharing and I want to bring people together for professional development. I want to set up exchanges to support people in Africa and to support my students and young entrepreneurs in the Netherlands; through working together, people learn from each other. I want to build an online platform to share my knowledge and experiences in the events & music industry. I also want to do that through master classes, workshops, coaching and consultancy. To succeed, I need to write a project proposal and apply for funds. If I cannot earn a living, I have to try to find other jobs to pay my bills. I decided only to take on teaching, research & training work if I can apply it to the big dream of my Malawi – South Africa – The Netherlands knowledge sharing exchange programme.

What happens? I’m at ZZPlace working on the Music & Braai all day, at home at night and in weekends I work on it as well. Thinking of all little details, wanting it to be perfect and knowing that good thorough preparation & planning is the key to a successful party. But I did not work on my proposal for my big dream. I ended up working on the event all the time, not on the Malawi project which is much more important for my business. Now the next 2 events are approaching, the dates are the deadlines and I feel an urgency. And because I enjoy working under pressure and I like organising events much better than writing proposals, I spend all time on urgent matters and I forget the most important one.

Another example is Rookie. Students work on their events, TV programmes, filming, making radio and booking their artists while they work in the Rookie office at Inholland in Haarlem. Of course the products have to be good, but at the end of the day, the grade for Rookie is based on reporting. The business plan, project proposal and half year report determine whether a team passes for Rookie or not. For your event, booking agency or TV project students are allowed to make mistakes, as long as it is clear that it is a learning process. It might not be busy at the event, but if the team can describe why that happened and what could be done better next time, it is possible to pass with a good grade.

20140511-095303.jpg Sometimes students feel bored working in the Rookie office, but there is always work to do. The important matters should be on the agenda every day. Students should work on the end report every week from the start. Do not wait until the end, because the weather will be nice and you want to go out, there are many Rookie parties in June, do not forget exams and retakes, assignments for other courses have to be handed in, you might have your own event or recording mid June and then on top of that, you have to write the half year report.. not the nicest job, but the most important! Not something to be written in a time when a lot is going on already, when you are busy and the sun is shining. The product will not be (very) good if you leave it till the deadline approaches. Plan to work on the half year report a little bit every day from the start of Rookie. You will learn more, because you take more time to reflect. You even have time to discuss the content with your team mates. And by the time you feel the stress for your event, show and/or editing your work, you have already finished a big part of the most important thing of Rookie: the half year report. So start writing now and do not wait until the end!!!

And for me? I am going to make a list with important matters for MYA, prioritise and allocate at least 20% of my working days to work on the Malawi project. Maybe even up to 40% as it includes writing project proposals, doing research, developing the online inspiration platform, visiting Malawi in September and finding strategic & content partners. I will also allocate time for money making projects (research & training). And then I can spend a couple of hours per working day on the stuff I like most, organising gigs :)