Do you come home from business conferences in disarray? You gather tons of materials that looked good at the time, but now you don’t know what to do with? You have a million creative ideas and are totally jazzed up to implement them, but you know your every day work routine is going to kick in tomorrow and drag you back into survival mode. Here’s a few things that we’ve learned and done over many great business trips that will help you get organized once you get back to the office.
1) Take smart notes while you’re there
You can be proactive and use your in-conference time to help keep you organized the whole time you’re away. If you are taking notes by hand, try putting a check box before items that are important “to do”. Star things that you would like to research or learn more about later. Having graphic items on your pages of notes will help you easily skim them later and pull your action items out. If you take notes digitally, a similar system can be put in place by using symbols, bolding or underlining.
2) Use plane time to distill
You can get a lot done on even a short plane ride. At a minimum, use the down time to read through your notes. It will help you review and remember the large amount of information that was undoubtedly thrown at you during the conference. If you have the time or energy, pull out action items into a separate to do list so you’re ready to hit the ground running before you even land! If you only have the energy to read through your notes quickly before watching an in-flight movie or taking a nap, that’s great too!
3) Go through all materials right away
DON’T put all of the conference notes, folders, brochures, giveaways, etc. into a pile at your office. Go through them right away! As you take them out of your bag or briefcase, touch them only ONCE before they are in the right place, whether that be a file, a colleague’s in-box or even the trash. A pile of clutter will cause anxiety and you’ll have enough of that getting caught back up on emails and workload from being away.
4) Follow up
Did you meet someone that you wanted to connect with for a work or personal matter? Drop them an email or call within a day or two so that the relationship and cause for the connection is fresh to them. If too much time elapses, it might be a more awkward start to the conversation or they might have even forgotten about you. Don’t let a great opportunity fall by the wayside.
5) Schedule nothing the morning you get back
Even if you semi-keep up with emails and phone calls while you’re traveling, the first morning back to the office is always hectic – from coworkers wanting to know how the trip went to email backlog, mail to open and jet lag to overcome. Try your best to leave the morning after you get back totally open to help you ease back into your work flow. Work slowly and steadily, get caught up and then get ready to rev up for the rest of the week.
Business travel can be fun and inspiring, but also very hectic if you don’t keep on top of things once you get back. We hope a couple of these tips help you out next time you have a conference!