The Art of Social Planning

So I decided to include the aspect of social planning here because I feel like it is an art. An art that has been lost upon too many of us. Particularly to my generation who pines more for experiences over materialistic  I distinctly remember 3 different times of my life i realized the importance of this person in a circle of friends.

the backstory 

In high school My friend Brittany was the coordinator, the gatherer, the one that figured it all out for us. I remember waiting around for her texts on Friday after school on the options for the night, then once the powers that be decided (the majority) she’d inform us of time, place, who would be driving who etc… I didn’t realize all the coordinating and backend work this took back then but I realized what it meant when I lost it.

In college I started picking up on what background work this social planner job required when my social life took a backseat and my studies became priority. While all my focus and planning was geared towards academics I did not have the energy to take on this role with my main group of friends in college so I watched the chaos unfold when something was trying to be planned. I noticed one main thing. No one could make a decision on anything – where we go, what we should do, timing, transportation. So I partook in those things that they were able to get it together enough for. It took another group of friends and Matt to open my eyes to the logistics and communication required to get a group of people together for an activity, event, or trip.

Post college
Real Life When I graduated college I had all this free time. Time that I had previously spent choosing academics over my social life. I had time and a job that offered me work-life balance. The question was now how would I choose to spend the ‘life’ part of that work-life balance.
I have two important people in my life I have to thank for enlightening me to the power of planning, turning me on to that social gatherings could center around more than just eating and drinking, and empowered me to think I could take this role on.
Matthew Rozell & Evelyn Gajc.
Matt came first. Whilst in college and for sometime post college we did quite a variety of things together but all for the most part planned by him. My first young adult activities, trips, and events. Vacations/trips – Washington D.C., Toronto, Philadelphia. In home social gatherings – house warming’s, birthday parties, dinners, etc.. Activity filled days in NYC – Broadway show rush ticketing/lotteries, dinner, free tours by foot, etc…
My first exposure to the coordinating, planning, logistics and communications for these things I learned through him and his group of friends.
Evelyn came next. My Cultural Sunday partner in crime. When I first moved to NYC there was an overwhelming amount of things I wanted to do. As we made a routine of this we dubbed it Cultural Sunday. With her it was easy we we’re both on the same page about timing and maximizing these days by creating activity filled itineraries. With our group of friends though, learning the dynamics of the group and navigating individual tendencies there was a bit more of a learning curve. By this I mean the planning became more involved as we included more and more of our friends.

The planner of the group, is a point person, a go to. Before, all I knew was that it was important to be close to this person. Now, I know (with choosing to be this person) that at the end of the day all it takes is a little decisiveness and coordination.

Here’s the typical steps I go through when planning anything with a group of people

The How To

Step 1: Figure out what you want to do
Step 2: Figure out your group
Step 3: Figure out dates/timing
Step 4: Communication. Probe, Solidify, Confirm.

Step 1: Figure out what you want to do.

When I moved into Manhattan I had a HUGE bucket list of things I wanted to do. You may not, but i’m positive, more than a couple of times, you’ve muttered some of the following phrases – ‘oh that’d be fun to try‘, or ‘we should do that sometime‘.These are the things that you should take note of. Things you’d like to do or try that fall outside of your standard get together (drinking and dining) and usually prefaced by the aforementioned phrases. Even if you don’t live in a place like NYC these kinds experiences do exist – they just require a bit more research and effort – in order to get the ball rolling. The additional effort im speaking to here though does requires a certain level of ownership and decisiveness. This seems to be the hurdle most people can’t get past. I promise you its not that hard – you just have to own it – in the end your friends will thank you and you will be the ultimate driver when it comes to planning these other types of get together’s/experiences.

Examples: a cooking class, a wine tour, do a walking tour of a museum or neighborhood you haven’t been to before, hiking trip etc…

**If you don’t know where to start try by doing something that already has timing and structure built into it that way you are simply delving out communication and confirmations to your group.

Start gathering and making a list of things and pay attention to things you and your friends always say you wish you would do and go from there…

Step 2: Figure out your group.

Not every group or individual is up for every activity. Learn to read your friends and what activities you like to partake in together, what things you talk about wanting to do.

Step 3: Figure out dates + timing.

Because people have lives and other responsibilities & obligations – it is important to be somewhat flexible when planning timing. I suggest, if its possible, providing your group
2 different dates and or 2 different times.
For example if you’re planning a dinner. Give an option of two different dates – Saturday/Sunday of a given weekend or if you want it to be on a Saturday offer the option of Saturday of this week or the following week. Once the date has been solidified I would provide an option between two times. Again depending on the activity this will change as a general rule of thumb you never want something to be too early or too late. Lets continue using the dinner example. Once you’ve decided on a date, typically for a dinner, my base being NYC time, 7 or 8 PM. Universally i think a night out type of dinner 7 PM is a good time.

Step 4: Communicate it. Probe, Solidify, Confirm.

Once you have figured out steps 1-3 its important to send out necessary communication via email or group text to figure out who will be partaking in what you’ve planned.

DO NOT ask this in an open ended manner because everyone is going to have a different opinion, idea, or thought.

You want to drive the conversation not to be a spectator to chaos.

Whose in and send out necessary preemptive reminder communication. This depends on the type of activity. But I usually like to send out confirmation communication at 3 different points.

Probe One to Two week Prior To. Depending on the activity I communicate the following to the group of people I’ve predetermined, I think, would be interested in participating in x activity
— What the activity is
— Date options if there are any
—-> time option will be given out once a date is solidified
— I will ask that everyone get back to me by x date
— On x date I will send out a reminder that I need to know that day who is in/out.

Once I’ve solidified the group I send separate communication (excluding those who cannot participate) pronouncing this is the participatory group, restating the activity, timing options if there are any, as well as any background,directions/address/meeting point, as well as a little kitschy blurb about my excitement for what we’ll be doing.

Solidify 3 Days Prior To. This steps purpose serves as a …
reminder to everyone participating
— to ensure everyone who originally said they could participate still can

Confirm Day Before. Same purpose as the aforementioned.

 

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