AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Aug/17

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Getting the most out of EVAL2017: Part 2 by Martha A. Brown

I am Martha Brown, President of RJAE Consulting, and Part 2 of this series is about managing your time and energy at EVAL2017. BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):  plan ahead and build downtime and self-care into your schedule.

Hot Tips:

As you plan which sessions to attend, consider what times of the day you function best.    For instance, if you are an early riser but worn out by 3 pm, attend morning and early afternoon sessions and then take a break. If you’re staying at the hotel, take a power nap.

Set limits on the number of sessions that you’ll attend each day. Your brain can only absorb so much information. But do attend the plenary and keynote sessions for sure!

Prioritize topics that you want or need to learn more about. Schedule those sessions first. Don’t miss Stephanie Evergreen and Ann Emery’s presentations on Data Visualization – they are a must-see. Determine and prioritize other “must see” sessions that you feel you need, and fill the spaces around them with sessions that interest you, or take a break. If you’re up for the challenge, consider attending a few sessions on topics you know nothing about, just to expose yourself to other dimensions in the field.

Spend time in the exhibit hall. There are times when it’s quiet and you can meet the exhibitors, look for books and resources, and converse casually with other attendees.

Attend receptions. “Meet the Authors” is a wonderful gathering where you can ask authors to sign your books and put faces to the names of people whose work you read and rely upon. These activities are fun and will keep you energized.

At least once a day, LEAVE THE CONFERENCE CENTER! You need fresh air and you need to move your body.

Spend some time alone each day. You’ll take in so much information that you’ll need to have some quiet time to reflect and let things sink in. Turn the computer off – those emails can wait. Breathe.

Be flexible and stay open. Despite the best laid plans, sometimes the most amazing experiences are those that arise organically.

Lessons Learned:

  • Don’t do marathon sessions for 8- 10 hours a day.  You’ll burn out way too quickly.
  • Spend time outside of the hotel sight-seeing: it refreshes the mind, spirit, heart and body.
  • Walk or move for at least 30 minutes each day: it increases your mental stamina and helps you retain information.
  • FOMO (fear of missing out) is unhealthy: Forget about it!
  • Remember to LAUGH – and even hug. Serotonin is a good thing.

Rad Resource: Relaxation music

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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