Convention Education Hangover

168: Beat Your Conference Education Hangover

Last week, the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) hosted a conference with more than 50 seminars along with more than 100 hours of designation education. Even after attending only a few hours’ worth of these offerings, it would be easy to come home overwhelmed. One of my clients told me he had typed five pages of notes—from just three of the seven days’ worth of content. Multiple attendees told me they felt “information overload.”

So, what do you do with this sense of confronted ignorance? How do you incorporate all this new knowledge into your daily life—especially when work is ramped up waiting for your return to the office?

Pick one takeaway from the new content.

You can’t implement everything you learned, especially not all at once. The complete list will rarely, if ever, stop being intimidating. When we’re overwhelmed, we procrastinate. So, sift through your notes (mental, physical, or digital); and determine what’s the most needed concept you need to incorporate. You might need to consult with a friend, family, or professional mentor to help you process what should have priority.

Break that one idea into manageable steps.

It’s easier to start and finish smaller steps than it is to try to eat the whole elephant in one sitting. Also, our body rewards even small successes with dopamine release. So, the more tasks we cross off the list, the more biochemical reward we build into the habit-forming process. Another benefit of deconstructing the process is finding places where you can outsource, customize, or automate.

Give yourself a manageable series of deadlines.

Wishes without deadlines are dreams—not goals. So, determine what you can do by specific benchmark dates. Set calendar notifications for your phone or computer. Use services like WhenSend to write and schedule emails to the future you—emails infused with the passion you feel during this goal-setting time.

Find an accountability mechanism.

This might be a friend or family member. It might be a paid life coach, counselor, or consultant. Or it might be a crowdsourced solution, using technology. Social scientists are finding that will power is a muscle that can be developed but that it also tires with use like a muscle. We all have finite determination and perseverance. So, it’s okay to ask for help and constructive criticism—just like a weight lifter would ask for a spotter in the gym.

Raise the stakes.

One of my fellow NAA instructors, Robert Mayo, also suggests adding a painful disincentive to your plans and deadlines. I’ve not tried this method yet, but it has worked for him and many others. Some people work better with a looming stick rather than a dangled carrot. Regardless, it’s important to raise the stakes proportional to the importance of your desired outcome.

You can read, watch, or listen to the less-pressing content again later. There’s value in refreshing your memory with quality content. You never know when that might fit a future conversation or decision matrix. In the meantime, focus only on what you have attention span, time, and energy to accomplish; and chase it with everything you have. By the time you attend your next conference, you’ll be an expert in that new strategy or habit.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

3 comments

  • Jenelle Taylor

    An important tip I learned as a teacher: before you go, block out time to organize, absorb, and apply what your will learn, 1/2 hour for every hour of education. If you attended 10 hours of class, use the 5 hours back in the office to write up your Ah-ha moments in future blog posts, or write that ad, or download and try the new app. The best way to use what you learn? Require yourself to teach it to others (webinar, office presentation, staff meeting) within 1 week of returning. If folks know they have to present about their learnings, they’ll be better students too! And more people have the chance to benefit.

  • Kristi Block

    Loved your class Ryan. I’ve already tried one of the take-aways (The Promoted Post on Facebook) and it is running now. Can’t wait to try some of the other ideas!

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