Why We’re Terrible at RSVPs and How to Fix It

Timg Management RSVPThe coveted RSVP…When we’re the event organizer, we can’t believe people won’t take 5 seconds to give us an answer. When we’re the event attendee we let that invitation sit on our counter for weeks until we have “time” to think about it. I am a huge fan of taking care of small tasks right away, but I’m a pretty bad example of the prompt RSVP. Here are four ways we can help improve the way we respond to events.

 1. Use Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s law says that work expands to fill the time that we give it. When you, the event organizer, give us 3 weeks to give you an answer, that’s how long it’s going to take. We let that small task expand to fill the time available. If you’re organizing a social event like a wedding, or birthday party, give us plenty of notice, but a smaller window to respond.

 2. Use the 5-Minute Rule

When you receive that event invitation, apply the 5 minute rule: if it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now. You’re never going to feel any more like finding a stamp and mailing in that piece of paper than you do right now, so you might as well just get it over with.

 3. Define What You’re Waiting For

Maybe you can’t RSVP right now because you’re waiting on something. Perhaps you need to check with your spouse, or check your work schedule. In that case, add that quick task to your calendar so you define when it will happen rather than allow it to be relegated to the infinite “later.” If, for example, you’re waiting on your work schedule, let the organizer know that so they aren’t left to just wonder about you. “Put me down as a Yes, but I’ll need to confirm on ____ when I find out for sure that I’ll be in town.”

4. Remember the Other Perspective

If you’re tempted to let that RSVP slide, consider the other perspective. Consider how frustrating it is to put off grocery shopping for a big event because you have no clue how much food to buy. Consider how frustrating it is to think your friends aren’t responding because they’re holding out for a better offer. As an organizer, make sure you remember your friends, just like you, have busy lives and things slip so don’t take it personally. Your party is great, but it’s not the most important thing on their minds right now.

Finally, if I have ever been late RSVPing to your baby shower/wedding/party/Bar Mitzvah, etc… I’m sorry. I offer this blog as my apology.

Connect with The Time Diet for more time management tips

Check out How to Speak so People Will Buy and other publications by Emily Schwartz

 Public speaking bookPhoto Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

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