The Ultimate Guide to Staying Productive During a Conference

It’s September, which means Dreamforce is right around the corner. One of tech’s biggest conferences, this year’s event expects over 200,000 attendees!

Regardless of your profession, conferences are great opportunities to network with peers, learn from experts, and enjoy a change of scenery. It can be a real challenge, however, to get the most out of the conference experience while still keeping up with your normal work.

As a team that attends an average of two events every month, we at Workato feel your pain. Here are four tried-and-true tips we use to make conferences more pleasant and productive!

1)  Make a schedule and stick to it.

Conferences often offer a wide range of activities, from keynotes and panels to hands-on training sessions and mixers. It can all be a bit overwhelming—especially if you’re looking to glean some serious professional development from the event.

To make the most of the experience, make a schedule before the conference begins. Make note of all the sessions you want to attend and any meetings you’ve scheduled in advance, and then block them off on your calendar. (Some events even offer online scheduling features, like Dreamforce’s Schedule Builder.) This way, you can have a good idea of what to expect every day—before the craziness begins.

Building your Dreamforce 2018 schedule? Check out these must-attend sessions >

2) Set aside time for important tasks like responding to emails (or Slack messages).

In a perfect world, you’d be able to focus 100% of your energy on conference activities.

But business doesn’t stop just because you’re out of office! You still have to keep up with your everyday work tasks, like responding to emails.

Twenty quiet minutes can be a lifesaver when it comes to keeping up with your everyday work during a conference. Set aside time first thing every morning—before you get distracted by keynotes, swag, and the general hecticness—to check up on key tasks. Answer emails (or Slack messages!), make sure your colleagues have everything they need, and contribute to solving any emergent issues.

At many conferences, sponsors run lounges where you can find free WiFi and outlets for charging your laptop, as well as snacks and other goodies. These lounges are usually located away from the hustle and bustle of the main conference, so they can be a great place to get work done during the day.

Need a break during Dreamforce 2018? Join us at the Treat Yourself lounge for some self-care >

3) Use Slack to keep up with activity in other systems, such as Salesforce or Marketo.

In 2018, chances are that you use a workstream collaboration tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams to communicate with your colleagues. But workstream collaboration is more than just a handy way to keep in touch. People are increasingly using these platforms to actually get work done in other apps and stay on top of important developments like incoming support tickets.

These intelligent automations are invaluable whenever you’re busy or out of office because they allow you to do actual work without having to open your laptop and log into an app. Instead, you can track key activity—and execute actions—from your phone. With automation, you can use Slack to:

4) Don’t go hungry—or sleepy.

To maximize the value of the event, it’s important to make sure that you’re mentally engaged. The secret to making sure your brain is working at 100%? Listen to your body.

Conferences can be exhausting: after hours of panels and booth-hopping, there are often networking events and parties that can go into the wee hours of the morning. But if you really want to make the most of the experience, it’s key to make sure you get enough rest. When you’re feeling fatigued, take a step back. Go for a walk or take a power nap—whatever you need to reset. You’ll be much more attentive afterward!

The same goes for food. Conferences often offer a wide array of delicious options, but it can be easy to eat unhealthily, especially if sponsors are handing out snacks while you wander the conference floor. Do your best to make smart choices. Limit snacking, but also be sure not to skip any meals, either. Your brain will thank you!

Because conferences disturb your normal routine, being productive during them takes more dedication than usual. But it’s not impossible to do work while attending an event; you just have to focus on working smarter. Technologies like Slack and automation are huge helps when it comes to managing your workload more intelligently—but sometimes, nothing beats a good old-fashioned schedule with lots of snack breaks.

Love conferences? We do, too! Here’s where to find us in the next few months >

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