A new dad’s guide to staying awake at conferences

David Lingholm

| 3 min read

Conferences can be viewed in two ways, either they are a great excuse to party for a few days or they are excellent ways to learn and network within your industry.
I’m the type of new dad that wants to get back home to his daughter, so I intentionally fell into the second category at the last conference I attended. My personality leans toward that side anyway, especially the side of me that feels I can always be doing better. I had to get the most out of the conference I could so I could be better at my job and get home as soon as possible so I could enjoy more good-night hugs.
If you’re anything like me, here are a few suggestions to help you get the most out of your conference experience.
1. Space out the coffee
Too much coffee at once loads your body full of caffeine, which sounds great until a few hours later when your body starts to flush the stimulant out and you begin to crash. A little coffee at a time should help you get through even the worst presentation.
Sleep and I aren’t always on the best of terms, and having a daughter has made that worse, especially when she’s under the weather or teething. You would think being on the road would give you plenty of time to catch up on sleep, and it can if you put away the distractions. Try stepping away from the computer, set your smartphone on the other side of your hotel room and turning off Sportscenter well before you want to fall asleep.
And remember, this might be the last time you get a full night of sleep without interruptions for several months!
3. Don’t be a booze hound
A drink with dinner is fine for most people. Anything more and you’re begging for trouble. Instead of helping you sleep, a few drinks before bed can disrupt your sleep. This is due, in part, to alcohol raising your blood sugar quickly and then dropping it quickly, making you hungry. And of course, alcohol is a depressant and has an effect on the brain.
4. Eat before you hit the obligatory continental breakfast
The frugal part of my brain struggles with this one, because the idea of free food always sounds like it will taste good. But it doesn’t.
In fact, the usual fare of glazed danishes and bagels can cause your blood sugar to spike, causing your pancreas to send a boat-load of insulin into your blood stream to balance your blood sugar. That process along with having to digest all the fat and sugar from those dessert-type foods can cause you to become drowsy, something you don’t need when a presenter is on his fourth slide about synergistic integration.
If you are going to hit the continental breakfast anyway, try sticking with the fruit. At least there is some nutritional benefit there. Or you can …
5. Head for the protein
Protein and fiber help you feel full longer, so make sure the party in your tummy includes some of both. It helps you avoid chomping through the ever-present cookie tray.
6. Slam water
Water helps your body feel full too, so you can avoid the carb-rich foods that eventually sap your energy. Staying hydrated also helps with brain function, so you can tell your boss with vivid detail exactly what you’ve learned at the conference when you get back to the office.
What tried and true suggestion do you have for getting the most out of a conference?
Photo credit: Austin Kleon

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