After attending the MLA annual conference, I always feel like my head is bursting with new ideas and resources to explore. This is why I love going to MLA, even though I leave the conference feeling completely exhausted. Whenever I feel like my mind is cluttered, something that helps me decompress is cleaning and organizing my immediate environment.
Take everything conference-related out of your bag and spread it out on a surface.
It’s amazing how much paper you collect as you talk to exhibitors and look at posters, not to mention all the free swag.
Pick up each item and decide whether you absolutely need to keep this item.
You probably won’t need to keep 90% of what you brought home. Sometimes there’s a product I want to explore further, in which case, I’ll just make a list of those products in my to-do list. That takes up way less space than a handout or brochure.
For the items you decide to keep, find a home for them right away.
This could be the fun sticky notes, pens, and water bottles you picked up at exhibitor tables. Don’t fall into the trap of letting things linger on your desk, stuck in limbo because you haven’t decided where to keep them. I find it hard to concentrate when there’s a lot of clutter on my desk, so I make sure to find a place for everything I keep in my office and do my best to keep in there while I’m not actively using it.
Review your conference session notes.
I always take a ton of notes at content sessions, especially when someone is sharing an idea or project that I think I could apply to my own institution. Given the controlled chaos of MLA, my notes aren’t exactly orderly. So I read through my notes and organize them into three categories:
- Things I can take action on,
- Things I should set aside until a later day, and
- Things I should forget about
This process usually takes about an hour, but that could vary for you. By the end, I feel more refreshed and organized, which makes it possible for me to move back into my normal work routine while making plans for the items in the first category. While MLA is a hugely fun rollercoaster of networking and learning, I’m always happy to come home and get back to work.