Attending a conference can be a great adventure in addition to a fantastic opportunity for personal and professional development. Yet, time spent at a conference can also set you back at work as your everyday duties take a back seat to networking and socializing.
Here are some tactics you can use to make sure you stay caught up at work while still making the most out of your conference experience.
Triage Your Work
Some assignments are more conducive than others to being done in whatever five-minute chunks are available. For example, writing a deeply involved research paper in the middle of a loud conference center isn’t very smart, but you could easily answer a few emails or do other light tasks.
Before you leave, pick out which work you think you can get done with limited time and attention, and which stuff you need to either finish before or save until after the conference.
Work on the Way
The actual conference may be a whirlwind of activity, so take advantage of the calm before the storm and get ahead on work during your journey there. Whether you’re flying, taking the train or something else, skip the nap-and-read routine and answer some work emails instead. Most domestic flights, buses and trains now offer Internet, so this is a great time to do some work without any social interruptions.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Conferences aren’t just daytime events. There are usually receptions, after-parties, then of course the after after-party drinks at the bar. It’s fun, and it kind of feels like work, but this late night networking will ultimately leave you tired and hungover the next day—which of course makes it even harder to get concentrate and get your work done.
It’s hard to pass up, but consider foregoing the late night drinks in favor of some serious pillow time. You’ll feel better rested and more productive in the morning.
Be Choosy With Your Time
With larger conferences there is always an unspoken pressure to always be doing something, and there are usually plenty of activities to keep you busy. Of course you want to make the most of your opportunities, but choose which sessions you want to attend wisely.
Don’t think twice about opting out if there is nothing that catches your interest. That time could be better spent catching up on work out in the hallway or at a local coffee shop.
Stay Charged and Connected
Wherever you manage to carve out time to work, make sure you’re well prepared. It’s very frustrating to finally sit down to concentrate then realize you can’t connect to the convention center’s Wi-Fi, or that your laptop is nearly dead.
Don’t forget to stuff your computer cable or an external battery in your day bag. Consider bringing along a portable Wi-Fidevice or tethering dock to keep you connected when the convention center’s network just isn’t cutting it. You may also want to bring along some headphones to help you block out ambient noise.