Prepare to implement before you go and get more out of any event you attend.
Opportunities for personal and professional development are always a good investment. Taking a few days to attend an event and get some new perspective can really improve your focus and productivity in the long run. So why does it feel so stressful in the short run? The answer is that it takes a little bit of extra time before and after the event to make up missing your routine.
I find that most of my clients understand the time before an event. The planning, packing, networking etc., it is the after the event part that gets dropped on the floor, literally. Take a look around your office. How much of the clutter is from events? Do you drape the lanyard over the doorknob and drop the swag bag on the floor to be dealt with later?
Anticipating overwhelm before, during and after the event gives you the flexibility to deal with the unexpected but delightful happenings at the event.
Taking the time to prepare before you go will help with the reintegration when you get back.
Before the event:
Determine your intention. Attend with a clear idea of what you want to get out of the event. Do you want to build your network? Are you there to learn something brand new? Do you need a specific question answered?
Clear your desk before you go. Get as many routine little tasks done as possible prior to the event so when you return the new ideas have space to let them grow.
Acknowledge the need to recover in the first place. Take a whole day to unpack, do laundry, prioritize messages and delete emails, and putz around with the stuff I brought back. It’s easy to just pretend the event is one day more than it is and not schedule appointments on that day. Transition days can really help you speed up the implementation because you are subconsciously processing the new stuff.
Decide to attend with a mind open to your intentions so you will attract the right information and people to you.
During the event:
It can be really fun to go to a training, seminar, conference or expo. So many ideas, resources, opportunities and experts in the same room, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and forget that you are there for a reason. To grow your business!
Create an action list. While you are at the event jot down any idea that is super bright on a single page of a notebook or in your favorite electronic capture place. Collecting all the ideas that resonate the strongest for you will help you prioritize when you get back. This works for new contacts too!
Eliminate the redundant and useless. At the end of each day of the event, quickly flip through the pile of stuff you picked up. Recycle all pieces of paper that you know you will never use or act on. Also, any pieces that you already have the information about. It’s really easy to end up with 5 different flyers about the same thing.
Only keep the specifics of things you are likely to do. Every good idea won’t be a good match for your business or the way you like to work.
Often these events are several days of jam-packed stuff you could do when you get back to work that even when you are excited about them, a crash happens before you actually implement them. The change from the high energy of the event to the relative calm and quiet of your own workspace can cause a bit of brain freeze.
Which idea should I work on first concerns cause you to put the new ideas on the back burner while they return to the more comfortable stuff that was already in their to do pile. Sound familiar?
Here is my surefire plan for quick recovery and easy implementation:
After the event:
Merge the list from the conference into your ongoing to do list. That way the items will make it onto your schedule. Consider a block of time to crank through several of the easier to implement items so you build some momentum. That way you are more likely to do the rest of them.
Schedule the items that are ready to implement and to revisit the ideas that are percolating. Don’t forget about scheduling the things that came in while you were gone.
Review the good stuff. About a week after the event, schedule the time to review your notes. You already have the best stuff scheduled so this is the time to pull secondary ideas and then get them scheduled too. Toss more of the items you decide against. Put the notes you will need to reference into your reference area.
Schedule a block of time within 3 days of returning to follow up with the people you connected with. Email, call or drop them a note to schedule a time to get to know each other better.
It also helps to return with an eye towards failing forward. Trying new things isn’t as scary when you get comfortable with the idea of eliminating things and ideas that don’t work for you.
Every busy entrepreneur feels a little crushed for time when they squeeze attending an event into an already super full schedule. The trick is to have a recovery process in place so the new ideas get implemented, the bad ones get tossed and all the clutter gets recycled quickly.
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