A GTD trade show survival tactic

The CES show floor is immense, and I’m staying at a hotel that’s too far away for convenient drop-off of the many pounds of conference brochures and swag I’m picking up. Therefore, a strategy for schlepping is essential.

More to the point, I’m writing up this show and I need a way to keep track of everything I’m getting, plus a way of organizing it for the various articles I’m planning to write. Ergo, my unofficial GTD system for trade shows:

First, you need inboxes. In this case, I’m using giveaway bags from the show floor. Today I was actually carrying two inboxes; a large paper shopping bag and a shoulder bag. Brand new items went into the paper bag, which I carried in my hand. Every 20 minutes or so, I’d transfer things into the easier-to-carry shoulder bag, and gave each item a quick perusal to see if it should be discarded.

Second, processing. The shoulder bag inbox is reviewed from time to time, when I can sit down with my MacBook. Items worth keeping get noted in an OmniOutliner document, and are transferred to my laptop backpack. Anything which contains information that I can quickly put into OmniOutliner and toss, I do so.

Third, post-processing. When I get back to my hotel room, everything in the bag gets dumped into various piles that act as my on-the-road reference system. I leave in the morning with completely empty bags. Next year, I’d seriously consider bringing a high-speed scanner for this step.

Result: lots of weight gets quickly distributed into the best bags for carrying them without causing too much fatigue, plus each bag represents an entry in an ad hoc filing system. The large quantities of atoms I receive act as automatic “mind like water” reminders for most of the writing I’m doing (especially once I put some categorization effort into them), and they’re shifted from being deadweight to useful objects as quickly as possible.

3 thoughts on “A GTD trade show survival tactic

  1. Careful now – you don’t want your research methodology to be more intricate/interesting than your show writeup.

    You’re setting yourself a pretty high bar so far… ;-)

  2. Are you a trade show rookie? Not being facetious – just asking.

    Your “process” for handling paper isn’t necessary. Don’t take *any* paper handed to you! Vast majority of trade show paper is on their site. Write info on the back of a Bus. Card. *Never* carry bags of paper around.

  3. Not a rookie to trade shows, although a rookie to covering a trade show of this magnitude for publication. Agreed that there are probably lower weight ways of engineering this workflow — it’s just that I find that when faced with a data pipe of this magnitude, the paper makes it much easier to create a sorting system afterwards.

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