I’m just back from ACES 2017, and there’s so much to do: gather receipts, review notes, answer emails, edit client projects … The list seems endless.
Conferences provide tremendous learning and networking opportunities, but they can also be exhausting, none more so than ACES—at least for me. And conference attendance creates a short list of tasks to do after the event:
- Follow up with people you connected with at the conference. Remember, it’s not about how many business cards you collect but about how deep a connection you develop. Reach out to the most promising folks.
- Take action on your notes. What can you put into action tomorrow? What should wait? If you’ll share what you learned with colleagues, you’ll want to identify the most important lessons.
- Record expenses. The longer you wait to do this, the less likely you’ll remember what all the receipts are for and have all the ones you need.
- Catch up on email. While not directly related to the conference, triaging your inbox will help you quickly respond to the most important messages.
Here are three approaches to tackling the after-conference task list.
Take a Day
Whenever possible following travel, take the day off from work responsibilities to rest and tackle the after-conference task list. Many conferences will post slides and handouts after the event; download now those that will supplement your notes.
Because so many editing conferences take place over a weekend, I rarely get a whole day free before jumping back into editing. When I can, it’s a godsend: I have more energy for my first full day back.
Take Half a Day
When you have some work tasks to do your first day back or have to be in the office, try blocking off a couple of hours to start the after-conference task list. You may not be able to finish it, but you can at least schedule tasks over the next few days and generally recombobulate your work life.
Most often, I have to do some client work my first day back. I triage the after-conference list, and then I jump into priority client projects. I’ll tackle after-conference tasks here and there over the coming days during scheduled blocks of time.
Hit the Ground Running
If you have to work a full day the day after you return, make the most of traveling. What you can accomplish will depend on your mode of travel and travel time, so start by scheduling tasks for the next few days, prioritizing the most important ones and completing what you can while you’re on the road. This is far from an ideal situation, but as long as you have a plan, you’ll be able to jump into your work without sacrificing everything you gained from the conference.
Don’t forget to schedule some downtime as well. Conferences and traveling are draining, and you need to refuel to keep going.
Plan to tackle the after-conference task list, and life will feel less chaotic as you re-enter your normal life.
Read more about getting the most out of conferences in our ebook, Surviving and Thriving at Conferences, which covers before, during, and after the conference.