Time Suck of Scheduling

I just spent a good two hours trying to get my conference app up and running for RWA 2014. This was a colossal waste of my time and energy. All it managed to do was make me swear at my computer and threaten to throw it off my deck.

For the last five years I’ve made up my schedule for the conference in a regular document. Each year, I “Save As” that year’s location and start replacing. It seemed to work for me.

I try to add some humor into them as well. “Mingle at a bar” or “Find a buttertart” (that’s for you, Holly). At one conference, I put “Have Sex with Husband” right after my return flight landed. Well, said husband took advantage of my conference time to throw stuff away at home. My youngest called in tears that he had thrown away her American Girl dolls. Another was crying that he was making them get rid of half of the contents of their rooms. I’m a pack rat by nature. This was the worst thing that could happen. My heart was pounding. I could feel my blood pressure going through the roof, and I usually have blood pressure so low I’m practically a corpse. So, I immediately pulled out my schedule and drew a very thick line through that particular event.

On my Golden Heart® loop, the discussion about the conference app made me believe it’s necessary to my life. Now that I’ve tried to make the thing work for me—downloading onto my phone, opening on the web page and trying to make sense of HOW to insert all my wonderful workshops—I tend to disagree.

I’m not sure when conferences became so confusing and why we have to make them even more stressful by adding unnecessary things into the mix.  Why do we have to tweet in order to meet up? Why do we have to hashtag stuff? Why, oh, why are people making this conference so stressful? First of all, half the strangers you’re arranging to meet for multiple dinners and drinks will undoubtedly get on your nerves after the first scheduled event. Or you’ll get on theirs. Now you’re both stuck. Be flexible. Don’t schedule yourself so completely that you don’t have downtime. That downtime is essential. Take a breather. Go to your room and paint your toenails if things become too much on the main floor.

Here’s the thing. Every year I make up a schedule. Every year I look at that printed personal schedule after the conference ended, and—without fail—I didn’t follow it at all. At all! With the conference set up the way it is, people get up and leave one workshop to go to another. To be perfectly honest, I’ll ditch a workshop for anyone who wants to grab a drink. Sometimes you make a new friend, and that friend wants to go to a workshop about costumes of the Regency period, and you write contemporary YA, but you go anyway. Why? Because you don’t want to lose your shiny new friend. What if she manages to find a better one in that workshop? It’s like high school all over again. ☺

I have some key workshops in my Word document and some events that can’t be skipped in my schedule, but for the most part I’m flexible. I’m free as a bird. So, if you catch this bird looking conflicted between two workshops—one on her schedule and one completely out of her genre or interests—please offer a third option.

“Wanna grab a drink?”

GH 2014 photo

62 thoughts on “Time Suck of Scheduling

  1. Hey,

    I’ve seen those discussions about the app and I’ve pretty much ignored them. I need someone else to work the kinks out of the tech before I come in with it. And I’m with you. Ditch the workshops to make a friend. Always the priority. It will all be well. See you next week, my fellow Lucky Dreamweaver!

    1. Piper,
      So glad you stopped by! I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of each other between the Luckies and Dream Weaver meet-ups. And I’ll gladly ditch a workshop for you! 🙂

  2. Wish I could be there to grab more than one drink with you! In my very scheduled life, creating another schedule would make me crazy….crazier. Have fun, make shiny new friends, put the blender to good use and don’t forget we have a date in NYC next July.

    1. Julie,
      I know exactly what you mean. The dry erase board in my kitchen is color-coded for five kids and their activities. The mere idea of scheduling for myself might very well put me right over the edge. I’m not bringing the blender this year. But I’m still bringing drinks. Hopefully I’ll see you in August when I pass through your neck of the woods. I don’t think I can wait until next July.

  3. I really like the app. I marked up a printed schedule already, but I always lose my printed schedule before the first session and then I end up following some random stranger who likes blue drinks around. 🙂

    1. Figures you’d like the app. Btw, I’m not completely partial to the blue drinks. I like diversity even with my alcoholic beverages. But I do really like the umbrellas. This year I’m not a stranger, so you won’t look as pitiful following me around. I’m bringing the kindergarten tether cord to put around your wrist. Between Amy and me, you won’t get lost that way. haha

  4. Oh my god, I agree so much. I’ve never been to Nationals before, and I’m so frustrated and stressed out by all of this PLANNING that needs to be done and money that I’m expected to pay for every event I may or may not want to attend…how do I even know if I want to do these things if I’ve never been there before? And now I have to COMMIT…and now there are EXPECTATIONS that I enjoy a particular dinner or a party because I am now required to have my money’s worth of fun.

    I haven’t even been yet and I’ll be glad when it’s over. Wow. It shouldn’t be like this, right?

    And yes, I downloaded the app. Haven’t accessed it yet, though. And now I’m scared to!

    1. Be very scared, Princess! I can’t figure it out at all. Then again, I’m not the brightest bulb in the techy chandelier. Can’t wait to see you! We don’t need no stinkin’ hashtags to get together. Text me. lol.

  5. Well, of course, I completely agree with you. On EVERYTHING, including the husband stuff. Just the other day I opened the trash bin and saw something VERY IMPORTANT. Good thing Superman wasn’t home because I was ready to launch a missile up his…nose. Why does he DO that? Isn’t it a little presumptuous to throw other people’s stuff away? Does he think he’s GOD or something? And as for the conference (see, I found my way back to the topic all on my own), it’s really about relationships more than anything. Hanging out and leaving yourself open to meeting someone. Preferably a tall, dark and Jensen Ackles-like someone. There are fixed things–lunch with agent/editor or whatever–and for those I have a sheet of paper with me cuz I’m old skool. But if you’re looking for me, please don’t hashtag (gesundheit). You’ll probably find me in the room reading. 🙂

    1. It’s very presumptuous, Suzanne! lol. I hate when people think they know better than you when it comes to what we should save. I’ll be my own judge. When I die, start pitching the stuff. While I’m alive, just leave it the hell alone.
      I can’t even believe you mentioned my secret husband–Jensen. No wonder we click so well. As you’re my roomie, I’ll just come drag your butt out of the room. #NoWorries

  6. I loved your post, Kimberly. I, too, was having trouble with the app and went back to my trusty word document.
    I do resent the amount of planning going to this conference takes and it seems like each year I go things get more and more expensive.
    If I text you in a panic, please just promise to meet me in the bar! 🙂

    1. I’m totally just writing “meeting everyone in the bar” all over my schedule. That’s how conferences are *supposed* to work. 🙂

    2. Sharon,
      You don’t even need to text me in a panic. Just text. lol. As we’re at half of the same events, I think we won’t need much help in that respect. I still went back to the app, thinking it would make more sense now. I found where to download the workshop handouts, but my computer won’t let me. Apparently I don’t have Adobe Reader, even though it keeps telling me I have a higher version. What happened to just clicking on the workshop, and up pops the handout?
      So simple….you’d think…

  7. Ha! I always thought everyone else stuck to their schedules religiously and I was the only lollygag. Now that you’ve revealed your secret, expect to be dragged off for impromptu drinks at RWA NY next year!

    1. Drag me away! I can’t believe you won’t be there this year. You’ll be missed. It’s a plan for NYC.

    1. Good choice, Shelly. I went to print out my schedule and realized I don’t have ink. Frantically ordering on Amazon Prime so I don’t have to leave the house. 🙂

  8. Okay, here I come – the naysayer:)! I love the RWA app (okay, not really, I like it, but I prefer the Guidebook app used by RT). I also enjoy Twitter and most social media tools (FB is starting to get on my nerves though:), but my excuse? In my other life, I manage special events and conferences for upwards of 5,000 attendees. A year ago, we introduced the conference app to an event and everyone was upset. We did it this year with Guidebook and it was a breeze. I’m an avid believer in technology, but it works because there are options. Not everyone has to like the same tools, and there are other choices that work just fine, including a spreadsheet or playing it by ear. The question the conference attendee should ask is what are MY expectations? What do I want out of this event? It’s up to the individual, and ignoring the extra stuff, or the ‘expected’ stuff, is your right. Don’t ever be bullied into someone else’s idea of what makes a good conference experience. And I guess a major part of the reason I don’t always understand the pressure people go through when they do a conference, or add a hashtag–is because its something I’ve been doing for a while. And I’m not great at any of it–but my expectations are different. But I bet by next year, the RWA conference app won’t be a thing to like or dislike, but something you use just because its there. (Don’t hurl things at me, okay:)…

    1. Well, well, well…look who’s playing devil’s advocate. lol. That’s so unlike you, Denny. I actually agree with you 100%, btw. If I knew ANYTHING about technology, I would be all over this. Maybe. I think it’s great to have the options, but people also have to take into account those of us who don’t want to be tied to our phones. I plan to put mine away. I hate when I go places, and everyone has their phones out. Put it away. While you’re all scrolling through your twitter feed to find the right hashtags, you very well may have missed an opportunity to meet a new friend. #ForTheLoveOfGodPutDownThePhone

  9. The app has its pros and its cons. Right now, it seems that the latter outweighs the former for many people. I’m on the fence. I was initially excited about its release because it offers a handy-dandy schedule of events to keep in my pocket. And there are maps. Allegedly. Is it full of bugs? Yep, but most new apps are. Like Denny, I’m used to working through the kinks in new tech. I’m a gadget girl. A social media butterfly. And I think a lot of our stress (I include myself in that group, as this is only my 2nd RWA) is self-inflicted. Last year, as a first-timer, I learned quickly to retreat to my room when things got overwhelming. I too had a packed schedule and I think I stuck to about 25% of it. I met a few single-serving friends, and a few friends that I can’t wait to meet up with again. I popped in and out of workshops, got invited to small gatherings, and tried to take it all in stride. I guess the best piece of advice I could give someone is – and it echoes yours – just go with the flow. The point is to enjoy yourself, learn what you can, and take copious notes. A few drinks don’t hurt either. =) See you at the bar!

    1. Hey, Xio! I remember meeting you at the bar with Denny, so I’m counting myself in the new friends you met. 🙂 I wish I could work through the kinks in technology, but, alas, that’s not me. You and Denny can work out all the hashtags and stuff, and then one of you can text me. That works. lol Can’t wait to see you again.

        1. I love having my own personal tech geek. This is exciting stuff. Second round’s on me. 🙂

  10. Thank you!! Apps are so not my thing (yet). And doubly difficult because I’m leaving my cell phone at home, in Canada, because I don’t have a 6 digit bank account to pay for the international charges 🙂 . I may pickup a toss away at Walmart when I get to Texas.

    I’m a first timer with lots of chapter stuff scheduled on Monday and Tuesday. For the rest of the conference, I’ll be referring to a handy little notebook with a list of what I’d like to “check out” each day, but only about four time slots where I’m committed to something specific… leaving myself open to whatever comes along… like invites to the bar, or just hanging out and relaxing for a half hour.

    1. Kathryn,
      You have the right idea! Don’t overwhelm yourself. It’s easy to do at Nationals. Wish I could tell you to come find me, but I won’t be on my phone. lol.

      1. BUT, if Kathryn buys a cheapo disposable phone upon arrival (or someone Really Kind buys it for her in advance) she’ll have a viable cell # for the week. And it can be shared with her RWA peeps and shiny new friends!

        1. Exactly my thought Susan 🙂 … And I’ll be at Walmart bright and early Monday morning checking out the possibilities 🙂

          why yes, I’ve already mapped out my early morning adventure 😀

          1. Really hate to say this, but send me a message on twitter. lol. I’d be happy to meet up with you. @KimMacCarron Just do it before the conference gets underway because I may be ditching the phone. 🙂

  11. Kim, I’d spend twice as much time trying to figure out the app as just making a schedule in my trusty little calendar book that I always have on me.I’m always envious of people like you and Nan who are so organized. Still laughing about you cancelling “that particular event”. See you next week.

    1. I’m not organized!!!!! That’s Nan. I’m flying by the seat of my pants through life. And with my writing. I’m a pantser all the way.
      Can’t wait to see you! You’ll be at the Lucky dinner, right?

  12. Kim, this post is hilarious!

    I don’t have a smart-phone, and this year I’ve decided not to take my laptop to conference with me, so no app.

    Like you, I create a schedule. I’ve only got “must do” workshops on it, since flexibility is a must. I always buy the conference CDs for that reason. Don’t have to worry about missing a workshop that way!

    1. Sheri,
      My phone was pretty much in intensive care at my first conference. It died all the time, and then I’d recharge it for a while. But, I managed to find people just fine. You see someone, you flag them down, and you’re good to go. Of course, they may not notice you because they’ll be on their phones trying to find the right hashtag. lol.

  13. Oh, you and I are grabbing a drink, missie!
    I will forego the app and just read the huge book they give you in the registration bag.

    I like to check in, go register and then go straight back to my room, dump the bag out and look at all the freebies. Then I sit on the bed and delve into all the workshops and circle what I plan attend. Old School, man, ya dig?

    Of course naps are automatically scheduled mid-afternoon. 😉

    1. I happen to dig Old School as well. That’s exactly my routine. Dump the books on the bed, and start circling workshops. That’s scary, Sarah. haha.
      I don’t take naps though. I can never relax enough. And I always think about what I’m missing. What fun drinks people are having without me. 🙂

  14. What a kick, Kimberley!
    But you know me – I’m all about databases and schedules and spreadsheets. (Not so much hashtags. Let’s just pick a bar.)
    The problem I see is that the batteries on all our phones will be sucked dry! Thus everyone will be needed to charge their phones, fighting for the closest outlets – or people won’t know where they were supposed to go.
    So I have both – the smart phone version and my spreadsheet version.

    And then you will find me in the bar with my friend Kim Mac – having a drink!!
    Cannot wait to see you in 7 days!!!!

    1. I don’t mind the schedule, Nan. I just have a problem with the tech version. And keeping a phone’s charge all day will definitely be a problem.
      I love your idea of people finding you at the bar with me. lol. Can’t wait to see you either, my Unsinkable Lucky Dream Weaver. 🙂

  15. I’m siding with Denny! Maybe its the engineer in me, but I love the app! I actually haven’t encountered any bugs and love the fact there are maps. I have, however, already over-scheduled myself. But, I’m also willing to go off for a drink anytime, anywhere…

    1. Maybe I’d love the app if I could figure it out. It’s way more complicated than last year’s schedule building thing. I usually overschedule myself as well, but then I just decide at the last minute which option I’m going with.
      I can’t believe it’s just a week away!

  16. I love the app too! It’s awesome! I have all my evenings planned, which restaurant or bar I’m supposed to be in at what time–but nothing during the day. Workshops are going to be attended depending on my mood and whatever YOU’RE doing Kim! Can’t wait to see you.

    (I remember when you found out about the hubs throwing stuff away.You really were serious about scratching that one particular activity with your husband off the list! And there was something about whips, and torture too, but that may have been for when you guys made up? Can’t exactly remember. 🙂

    1. Lol, Tammy! Now you’re just making stuff up. There was no talk of whips.
      I was thinking if we can’t find the right hashtag and don’t know how to meet each other without the twitter help, then I’ll just come by after the conference. If you still want me…:-)
      Figures you’d like the app. I’m calling you for help…
      I’m calling right now…
      Answer the phone!

        1. Oh, I’m loving my detour to Tammy’s house. Sans children this time. haha!

  17. So you’re saying the hour or so I flipped through workshop descriptions is time I should have spent folding laundry? Now ya tell me!!

    And Kim, love, you’ll have my cell. I’m always up for a drop by for a drink. Or cake. Either one.

    1. No, no, no, Marnee! Flipping through the workshops is good stuff. I love doing that. I’ve spent many hours doing the same thing. And never, EVER decide to fold laundry if there’s another option at the time. 🙂
      I just programmed the Dauntless phone numbers into my cell today. I’m always up for a drink or cake. Or both. Even simultaneously. Text me! 🙂

  18. Hi, Kim!

    I downloaded the app and lamented that I won’t have time to do *everything*. Maybe I should just hang out at the bar with everyone else! Oh, and did someone mention cake?

    1. You know I can be persuaded to eat cake anytime. Marnee needs to find us a good place. 🙂 My friend, I barely get to see you, so you’ll just have to deal with me monopolizing your time. So very glad your stateside already. See you at the airport on Thursday. I promise not to let you wait two hours. Lol.

  19. Kim. sorry I’m late again. I didn’t load the app. Does it have the locations (which hotel, floor, and room) for workshops, signings, publisher spotlights, etc.)?~Jillian

    1. Jillian,
      It has all that good stuff. All kinds of good stuff that I’ll probably ignore. Again.
      I’m sure I’ll revert to the paper schedule. It’s always worked for me.
      See you next week!

      1. Thanks for the great post and information, Kim! I’ll make a paper schedule, too. Much simpler than looking at information I don’t need. Besides I might be busy networking. That’s in the bar, right?

  20. Fabulously spot-on and funny as always, Kim!

    My first Nationals (’11) I was a schedule Nazi. I drove myself totally bananas because I didn’t know better. Then in ’12…I went ROGUE. And not just because that was the year we met. 😉 I’d now made some incredible friends and learned that the time spent sharing ideas (and drinks!) was equally, if not more important, than any workshop I could ever attend!

    So sad to miss this year, but uber excited to raise a glass with you in NY!

    1. Love how you went rogue, Darcy! LOL!!! We are schedule mavericks. You can’t touch us. You’ll never know where we’ll be. I’ll miss you this year, but we’ll jam-pack some savvy awesomeness into our NYC conference. If we can reel Holly in, we could have 100% Savvy Presence. 🙂 I’ll be super excited to raise a glass with you as well!

  21. Too funny, Kim! The thing to remember is that the app is a tool for YOU to use (as much or as little as you see fit); don’t let IT use you! 😉 Plus, everything RWA does with technology ends up being FUBAR – look at their website! – so it’s no surprise the app has bugs.

    1. OMG, I just laughed so hard I inhaled my Screwdriver. The drink, not the tool. I immediately thought of Tango and Cash with the FUBAR comment. So funny. I agree, though, Gail. It’s a tool to use for your convenience. If it stops being helpful, you just have to toss it. I think I may have tossed it. Although I did figure out how to finally add workshops into my schedule and get myself some workshop handouts. I’m learning! This old dog is learning new tricks.
      Can’t wait to see you on Monday! Thanks for hosting! It will be great to meet up with some Luckies!

  22. Kim, I haven’t tried the app! I’m too overwhelmed to even try. My number one goal at this point is to arrive in SA for Day of YARWA. I haven’t perfected my pitches. I haven’t finished my WIP. I’ve barely scratched the surface of my to-do list. Sigh. Hopefully, the conference will be more enjoyable than the preparation! 🙂

    1. I don’t even have a tool yet to scratch the surface, McCall, so you’re way ahead of me. lol.
      The conference will be super fun if you don’t get overwhelmed. And it’s easy to do if you try to overschedule yourself. Can’t wait to see you for YARWA day!

  23. Ahahahahahaha. Downloaded it. Looked at the login page. Closed it without using it. I’m a freeballer like that. Risking exposure to chaos in a Brittany Spears kind of way. :)Hey, half the adventure is just walking the halls and talking to interesting people.

    1. Shea,
      I love that we fly by the seat of our pants. Usually we’re flying in the same direction, so that helps. 🙂 We need to find a cool fountain this year.
      I agree. Most of my best memories of conferences weren’t in any schedule.

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