I’m attending the NGS conference this week and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. One great thing about going to a conference is having the opportunity to block out the other distactions and focus on the topic at hand. This year, the conference is in St. Charles, a half hour from my home in St. Louis. That sounds incredibly convenient, but in fact in means that I miss the full genealogy immersion that I get when I travel to a conference. I have to head home in rush hour traffic, walk my dog, and deal with day-to-day life. Today, in fact, is my husband’s birthday, so as soon as I get home from the conference I’ll be turning off the research side of my brain!
Within the conference itself, there are some time-management challenges. For example:
- How early do I need to get there to register on the first day? (Turns out not as early as I thought.)
- The exhibition hall is open throughout the day and, of course, it is more crowded during the breaks between sessions. Today I decided to skip a class session in favor of touring the exhibition hall when I could get the chance to really talk to exhibitors. That turned out to be a good choice (though I’m sure I missed a good session), because I had two really great conversations. (Keep an eye out on the blog for the fruits of those conversations!)
- Fitting in time to blog can be hard during a conference. Skipping this morning’s class gave me the time to write this blog post!
- Of course, deciding which class to attend is always challenging because there are so many good options. Yesterday I made great choices. Here are the sessions I attended, all of them excellent.
- Judy Russell’s keynote address, “Journey of Discovery”
- Elizabeth Shown Mills class, “Dissection & Analysis of Research Problems: Ten Steps to a Solution”
- “Anatomy of a Case Study: Steps Used to Write for Yourself or for Publication,” presented by Melinda Daffin Henningfield. It actually reinforced some of things Elizabeth said, which was great.
- Jen Baldwin’s, “PERSI: Spanning the Generations”
- One way I use to determine which class to attend is to pay attention to which are available as live stream and/or audio recordings. If I can view/listen later (for a fee) I may choose a competing class that is only available live.
- Figuring out the best use of time during breaks is another challenge. Some sessions are in small rooms that fill up, so taking an advance look at class locations can help you get into the class you want. On the other hand, my friend wasn’t able to get into her first-choice class and ended up joining me Elizabeth Shown Mills’ class in a larger room and was so happy she did. (And, of course, sussing out the less-crowded bathrooms is helpful during breaks as well!)
Sometimes I find myself getting wrapped up in making sure I use my time in the best possible way at a conference. But I try to remind myself to leave myself open to serendipitous connections. If I over plan, I might miss out on spontaneity. You never know where your next great learning opportunity or next great connection with a genealogist will come at a conference like this.
In an environment like the NGS conference, no matter how I spend my time, I pretty much can’t lose.