If you guys haven’t noticed, I get really, really excited when I get to go to conferences. I’ve shared my tips and tricks on going to conferences. But I thought I’d give you a little insight into what I personally do from getting ready to register, register and what I do from that point forward.
I am a BIG planner. If you guys haven’t clued into that by now, I’m not sure we’re reading the same blog. So, let’s jump in to see what I do throughout the year to get myself ready. I’ll use PPWC as a reference since I’m much more familiar with what I do for that conference and have my timing pretty well managed. I’ll add in the little changes that I’ve done to help get ready for CO Gold, or basically the second conference to my year.
Until most recently I have not been the best budgeter. I’ve been working really hard to get better at it and I think I am finally at a point where I am using a system that has been successful thus far. I usually start saving for PPWC around November. A little here and there so that I can have at least the amount that I need for registration. If I’m lucky, I’ll have enough to book my hotel room as well.
In November, after registering, everything else goes to the extra stuff I need. I save a little money here and there for things like costumes (if there is one happening – like this year), renting a car was an expense this year, and also things like books from the book signing.
Once I decided to go to CO Gold this year as well, I had to rearrange my budget to get things settled there as well.
Bullet Journal Pages
So, since I’ve talked about it, I thought I would share the kind of things my bullet journal has in it for the conference. Actually both at this point. I do have a journal used primarily for writing related things and here is what I have as part of my conference planning:
- I have countdown pages that allow for me to mark down the number of days. Yes, I already have one for CO Gold and yes I know that it is over 100 days away.
- I have a generic to-do list. This has things like registration dates, contest information (if there is one), create a packing list, when to book a hotel (as needed), etc.
- I have my actual packing list. For PPWC it is pretty extensive since I’ll actually be staying over. Right now I haven’t decided if I’ll be staying at the hotel for CO Gold since it is actually in town so that packing list is a lot smaller.
- I have additional information like workshop descriptions, keynote speaker profiles, contest information, etc.
- Blog plans: what am I going to blog about the conference? I also keep prewrites of my entries here as well.
As we get closer to PPWC starting, they’ll be releasing things like schedules and the brochure. As those are released, I’ll print hard copies to keep in my bullet journal as well.
My Own Schedule
If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’m always excited when we get close to the conference because they usually have the brochure posted so I can make my “plan of action”. I love planning which workshops to go to and such so I know what my goals are for the long weekend. One way I do that is my favoritest thing ever: Excel.
I know there are those out there that dislike Office products and whatnot, but I am a fan. There are also free alternatives (LibreOffice, Open Office, etc.) that work similarly. And it’s not something that everyone needs to do. I just like having it there for me. To play with.
Here are some screens of what my document looks like:
The first sheet I have in my document is a list of workshops (edited as I get more information). In here I have a few categories:
- The name of the workshop
- The presenter – so I know who I’ll be listening to.
- Description – so I know what is going on
- Rating – I rank my interest in the workshop. I love that PPWC releases a list of planned workshops before the brochure. This gives me some ideas of what to expect and I can really start playing with my rankings. These rankings range from “Definitely need to go!” to “Conflict”, they are then color coded so I can easily separate where things are.
- Session – once I know which session each workshop is during, I’ll use this as another means of sorting the list.
- Date – again, another way to just sort the information as I need to.
The next sheet is my faculty sheet. It basically just has the names, descriptions and session information for each presenter. The little boxes are set up to be one for each of the sessions, the boxes then have hyperlinks to move me back to the workshops section for more information. This will be flushed out a little more once we get the brochure.
My next sheet is divided for the actual scheduling. The first section is my suggested schedule section. As I have my “Definitely going to do this” option selected for a session, then I start filling in information. This is pretty blank right now but will be worked on once the brochure is released. What I have in this is:
- Start time
- End time
- Session name
I’ll probably print a copy of this to have with me as well.
That same page also has each session separated out with the options for workshops during that session ranked. Right now I have just the prequel information in so we don’t have much deviation color wise since you pre-select the session you want to do.
Each of these sheets has formulas, hyperlinks, conditional formatting, and other things to make it a fun and easy experience. You can definitely hit me up if you want some more information on it and what I do with it.
So that’s a small insight into what I do to get ready myself for the conference. What kind of things do you do to plan for your conference experiences? Are you a go with flow kind of person? Do you plan like crazy?