Pre Conference Countdown – a lesson in not sweating the small stuff

At short notice, I’ve taken a leap of faith and purchased a conference ticket. It was left until the last minute because I’ve been umming and ahhing about whether or not I can justify spending the money to be a delegate for 2.5 days, plus accommodation. Everyone who has attended this industry conference raves about it and I’ve made some great connections with people over the last 12 months who will be there. Never underestimate the power of meeting the face behind the emails, I would advise other people, as I was so wisely taught when I stepped into the broader industry. You’ll be amazed what happens at ‘the meeting after the meeting’ or months in the future because you took the time to start building a relationship. Yes, all the justification in the world for taking a large sum of money out of my bank account.

With one sleep to go, I’m feeling under prepared. It sounds simple, right? As a delegate, but a ticket, turn up and sit there. Easy. As a small business owner, wife, mother & volunteer, here’s actually how my to do list looked to get conference-ready (in no particular order):

  • Decide on & order new work shirts
  • Design & order new business cards (to reflect current role & add twitter handle)
  • Order new case for new phone (yes I’m scared of dropping it)
  • Write new article for business website blog so it doesn’t look abandoned
  • Ditto re personal blog (this)
  • Plan conference schedule, choosing which speaker sessions to attend.
  • Reach out to some people via email that I know, that will be attending.
  • Figure out clothes for conference evening events & shoes. Given my work-at home wardrobe, this was a mission.
  • Organise meal options for meals not provided at conference (on the cheap here – no $39 hotel breakfasts!) Mercifully the conference will have unlimited free barista service.
  • Plan dinners for the family while I’m away and ok with husband. Plan means ‘this is what you’re eating & I’ve purchased it for you to cook’ not ‘it’s prepared & frozen for you to eat.” I’m not that organised.
  • Grocery shopping so family has enough food in the house inc school lunches.
  • Wash & iron relevant work & casual clothes for the adults for the week & school uniform for the kids.
  • Notify volunteer group of absence. Cancel one commitment and request assistance for another in my absence so everything is good to go on my return.
  • Update bookwork & pay relevant bills (business & personal) to cover my ‘week away’.
  • Print conference & accommodation paperwork.
  • Fix my OneDrive syncing issue.
  • Figure out which technology to take (quick decision), charge everything & pack all relevant power cables and a multi-box power strip (don’t leave home without one)!
  • Meet as many work deadlines as possible before I go away.
  • Pack.
  • Drive new (for us) car on the motorway by myself for the first time & pre-plan the correct exit & route to my destination.

This list does not include leaving the house tidy & clean, tackling any new work requests or dance lessons (mum’s taxi service) the day before I go.

And it certainly didn’t include Miss 9 breaking her arm on Saturday, 2.5 days before I’m scheduled to leave. Write off one day at the hospital and stress about how husband will cope with one injured kid (the eldest, helpful one) and his workload, by himself.

Add to list – introduce injured kid back to school the morning I leave.

So right now, ‘one sleep until the conference’ is irrelevant. My conference countdown consists of how many tasks I have to do before I go. It’s amazing how when you have a short deadline, your priorities shift to only the really essential stuff.

To give credit where it’s due, my other half is an amazing, capable man who I’m sure will cope just fine without me. But I’m allowed to feel a little indispensable, I’m a mum and a major part of our business.

‘Conference’ evokes a mental movie reel of a hotel room to yourself, the bliss of sitting in sessions just listening & mingling with others over drinks. Maybe even poolside during a break?  In reality, my conference movie reel consists of long days, keeping on top of work during breaks & plucking up the courage to introduce myself to people, without the comfort of a group posse. If you see me wandering aimlessly or eating by myself, please come and say Hi. I won’t think you are trying to make a move and I’ll be grateful for the company.

Now it’s down to completing a few more tasks tonight, trying to get a good night’s sleep & printing tickets & packing in the last 3hrs before I get in the car. As long as I turn up at the right place with clothes, I’m counting it a success.



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