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Pre Conference Travel and Logistics Planning

Pre Conference Travel and Logistics Planning

In my new role, I’ll be attending and hosting lots of conferences and meetups. This means traveling probably as much as twice a month to other places, and that means lugging all the stuff a technological nomad needs to take along to stay viable. Here’s a list that I’m compiling that contains some obvious and maybe not-so-obvious pre-plans.

Pre-Conference Travel Checklist

  • Clothes. This is a given to TAKE clothes, but be sure to have a mix of multi-use, casual-to-faux-formal clothes. Take fitness clothes, if you can, too.
  • Toiletries. The US has just approved using a quart-sized sealable plastic bag full of travel-size toiletries (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc).
  • Business Cards. ALWAYS bring business cards. If you’re not traveling for your day job, print your own at somewhere like VistaPrint.
  • If you print your own, add WHAT YOU DO FOR OTHERS/WHAT YOU WANT FROM OTHERS on the card. (Example: Chris Brogan. Pulvermedia. Looking to meet and talk about the future of video on the internet.)
  • Chargers. This is the one most people miss. Double check that you have one charger for each piece of gear.
  • Transfer cables. I shot movie footage a few weeks ago, and then couldn’t display it anywhere because I didn’t have the right cable to share it.
  • Energy bars. Plane snacks are fewer and further between, and hotel snacks aren’t that great either. Take a half dozen energy bars for quick, good, calories.
  • Reading material and an mp3 player. There’s lots of travel time wasted. Take podcasts and books/magazines with you.
  • USB thumb drive(s). Take one for your data, but consider picking up a cheapie 32MB one to give out, if need be. Smaller and easier to manage than bringing along CDs or DVDs to burn, depending on the size of the media you want to share.
  • 3×5 cards or a notepad, and a pen. Are you kidding? This is on EVERY list.
  • Maps. Use your mapper of choice: Google? MapQuest? Yahoo? but use one. Map out all the parts of the city or cities that you’ll be traveling. Get directions both ways (to and from). Build these into a little binder, if you want, or at least color-tag them so that you know which one to pull out when.
  • Accommodation info. I *always* forget the name of the hotel I booked, because there are often multiples tapped for an event. I also share this with family and friends, so that people know where to find me in an emergency.
  • Prescriptions. Make sure your medicine needs are up to date. Sometimes, you can contact your doctor and ask for an additional prescription, just in case you run into trouble somewhere else. This’ll save you some time, especially if your med is important.
  • Bring a crapload (technical term) of Ziplok gallon bags, and maybe some quart bags, too. They’re insanely useful, for millions of things.
  • A roll of duct tape beats a lint brush any day. If you don’t want the whole role, peel off a long strip and re-wrap it carefully.

Targeted Planning

So here’s something people rarely do before attending a conference: target who’s going to attend. If you’re going to a trade show in your industry, get out on the site’s attendee list, see who’s coming, and look for the following:

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  • Company blogs.
  • Technorati mentions.
  • Personal blogs of attendees.
  • Industry news in general.

You could build a reasonably robust packet of information through a quick (but deep) read through your RSS reader of choice. (I like Bloglines for a web-side reader). And this will give you more conversation grist for the conference. Further, if you happen to need something, on behalf of your company or yourself, you’ll have the pre-knowledge of who’s doing what in your industry. If you learn that people are hiring, or that someplace just had a layoff, you might even find a new job, or fill the jobs you need filled at your company.

Networking Tips

Lots of people forget that conferences aren’t just about the expo floor and the presentations. It’s about getting to know other people in your industry (or in the area of your passion), and echanging ideas. The key element of this happening at the show is your pitch. What are you going to say to start an engaging conversation? I’ve mentioned going to 15 Second Pitch before to learn some great tips, and build your own pitches online for free. But here’s another tip to go with that one: Build a great 5 second soundbite, a 15-30 second teaser, a 2 minute trailer, and then the full boat conversation. What?

The 5 second soundbite is what you say shortly after people look for your badge (wear this on your right side, if you shake right-handed). It should NEVER be your job title. It should be something about what you do, what you’re looking for, or what you offer. (By the way, I’m not the expert. Laura is. Go see her for details).

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Tthe 15-30 second teaser is like the warmup to tell people just a little more if they bite on your soundbite. This should give them just a little more of the story, to show the other person where they fit into your ecosystem.

The 2-3 minute trailer is like a movie trailer. You’ve gotta show the best of your idea/offering/whatever in this 2-3 minutes, because this is your shot. You watch trailers, right? Do they help you decide whether to see a movie or not? Of course. Make your trailer really compelling, but then, you have to deliver.

The rest is just the full conversation. Remember to give the other person time to talk. Make your presentation about them, as best as you can. Give them chances to exit the information dump, in case they’re being polite instead of interested. (This will save you both time). And always be courteous to people’s time. They’re there to meet lots of people, too.

After the Show

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First and foremost, reconnect with your family and loved ones. Give them attention, and try not to lead off by talking about all the crazy things that happened to you. Ask your spouse (who cared for your kids while you were gone) or your boyfriend or whoever details about THEIR experience while you were gone. Listen to them. Ask questions. Give them a chance to feel at the heart of your attention. (This is the best advice I can give you for your relationship with regards to travel).

I’ve already covered this before, but to recap, make sure you send a brief email to every business card you received at the event –Remember: it’s YOUR job to GET cards, not give yours out. That’s a bonus– with tidbits of specific things you and the other person talked about at the event. Do this as quickly as possible. Keep the contact fresh. This will reinforce the person’s memory of you at the event, and promote a better feeling about what you and the other person might do in the near term.

Reset your toiletries. These are the things that eat up annoying time when you’re ready to travel next, because you forgot to bring them.

Your Tips and Add-Ons

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You know me. I love to end these things looking for your feedback. I love adding to the conversation. If you do it here, great. If you do it on your site, send a trackback. But let’s keep the conversation going. I bet someone could even take the first few lists and upload them into our wiki and build even more around them. But let’s keep the conversation going. Okay?

— Chris Brogan keeps a blog at [chrisbrogan.com]. He’s just joined pulvermedia as a Community Developer for Video On the Net, a conference about the future of tv and movies delivered over the net.

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20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a daily plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a time limit to each task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

Google Calendar is great – I use it. It’s even better if you can sync it to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are.

Here’s more tips about how to use calendar for better time management: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

Check out these Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools and pick the ones that fit your needs.

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5. Know your deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to be early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time box your activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a clock visibly placed before you

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set reminders 15 minutes before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

Find out more here about how reminders help you remember everything.

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track your time spent

Egg Timer is a simple online countdown timer. You key in the amount of time you want it to track (example: “30 minutes”, “1 hour”) and it’ll count down in the background. When the time is up,the timer will beep. Great way to be aware of your time spent.

But besides Egg Timer, you can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that fits yourself the best.

14. Don’t fuss about unimportant details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch similar tasks together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate your time wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off when you need to

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave buffer time in-between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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