Nearly a thousand of us "camp people" returned home or back-to-camp on Saturday after a pretty darn epic Mid States Camp Conference, held at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL. I've been attending Mid States for almost 10 years now, and I can truly say that the people have become family and the place has become home. The energy, passion, love, and synergy is almost visible in the air.
There's no doubt that professional conferences of any kind provide a wealth of information, resources, and connections. If you're focused on getting your money's worth, you'll definitely come out rich on the other side. But, the experience can also leave you exhausted, overwhelmed, and with a really long to-do list, not to mention your email inbox which has been filling to the brim for the last 3 days.
How can you ensure that the benefits of the conference live on, while still returning to your daily routine?
The 4 Laws to Surviving Post-Conference Overload
1. Sleep, eat, and drink for a day. Confession: I slept until 3 p.m. on Sunday. And it was glorious. At the conference, you're moving, learning, talking, and listening more than you usually do. You're focused on sponging in as much knowledge as possible, plus you're spending time with old and new friends in between and during late-nights. It's exhausting! Give yourself some time to recuperate. Get a good night's sleep, eat healthy foods and full meals, and drink water, juice, and other heathy liquids.
2. Connect with people. You met a ton of new friends, right?! Pull out those business cards, flip through your notes, and make a list of everyone you want to stay connected with. Add them on LinkedIn or Facebook, or send a quick email. Don't forget to follow any speakers that you really enjoyed learning from - they're bound to have great content on their social media, too.
3. Make your to do list. This is the hardest one, because...you just want to do everything, right?! Reality check: you can't. It's completely unrealistic. But, you can still get the most out of your experience with a few actionable items.
Here's the fool-proof post-conference To Do List formula:
Identify Actionable: Go through all of your notes and circle, star, highlight (whatever system works for you) everything that is actionable. It can't be something you're going to think about. It has to be the things you'll actually do!
Choose: Now you're only allowed to choose 3-5 of those action items. I'm not kidding. I know it's hard, but you can do hard things.*
Make 'Em Bite-Sized: You'll probably need to bust them down into bite-sized pieces because you need to accomplish these 3-5 actions this week (before Monday morning) . So, "Revamp the CIT program" is probably not a good choice, but "add role playing activity to CIT training outline" would be perfect.
Find a Buddy: This person is also known as an accountability partner. Share your 3-5 bite-sized action items with them, and share the background story of what you learned and why you're excited to put these things in motion. Ask if they'll please check in with you early next week to make sure you've done them.
Get to Work: Ok, what are you waiting for? Now go ahead and get to work on your 3-5 bite-sized action items.
4. Dive into your inbox. There's no sense in putting off the things you missed. It's better to put in a little extra time and get caught up now, before things get too buried. Steps 1-3 might seem easy compared to this one...
If you're feeling pumped about your bite-sized 3-5, share them in the comments so we can all see your top takeaways from the conference. Plus, I can be another buddy/accountability partner to help you stay on track.
PS. If you're looking for a way to procrastinate (not that I'm an enabler or anything), you can take a minute to write a note to the Conference Leadership Team and thank them for making a difference in your life and the lives of kids at camp. The conference is 100% planned and run by volunteers. How epic is THAT?!
*Shameless reference to Michael Brandwein's keynote presentation.