Think about the last time you attended a seminar, workshop, or tradeshow. All the stuff you brought back, where is it? What did you do with those binders, notes, notebooks, and product samples from a continuing education event or tradeshow?
You may come from the event and “put the swag bag down” for later. But if you did not have a concrete, immediate plan for it, “later” never came, and eventually, you got tired of stepping over that bag or moving it from one place to the other.
You decided to place it where it would not interfere with your daily life (i.e., where you could not see it anymore).
Swag Turns into Clutter
Once you can’t see that material anymore, it is out of your mind. It does not interfere with your daily life, that’s true. But that means that you forget about it. Hence, a new bag to clutter your space!
If all that stuff is out of your mind, it is unimportant to you, and you don’t need it.
But why did you gather that stuff in the first place? It could be an automatic reaction to grab anything free.
Make It Benefit You
Think of ways that material can benefit your present life, help you in your career, relationships, or whatever it might be. Then, decide on concrete, appropriate steps to allow that to happen.
This process takes intention and planning. It will not happen if you relegate that bag or binder full of notes and product samples to a place you won’t think about.
What To Do with It
Here are some examples of what that process of paying attention to that material might look like:
- You took notes on the various seminars during the activity — to cement the knowledge in your brain, transcribe the notes by hand. Then, scan those notes and file the document in an electronic file related to the topic. If you have Evernote or the like, that’s another convenient way to keep your information handy and classified.
- You received printed material you already know is valuable and want to keep — scan it and follow the steps described above. If you’re going to keep the paper copies, make a file.
- You collected sample items — Are you interested in trying those items? Place them where you are most likely to use them and try them! Did you collect the items for someone else? Place the things where you won’t forget to take them the next time you see that person.
- Were there recommendations about books, apps, or programs to try? — If you made notes on these, these interested you in the first place. Revisit each of those and decide what needs to happen for you to act on it if that still sounds like a good idea.
- Do you have ideas to develop? — Don’t let it go to waste! Instead, assign a time on your calendar to make those things happen or list the steps needed to obtain that goal. Then, calendar those steps. What gets in the calendar gets done.
- Business cards — Scan them or input the information with appropriate notes into your iPhone. Then, establish steps and dates to reach those contacts, explore possibilities together, and network.
You can certainly come up with more ways to benefit from all the material gathered at that event. The point is to take action about those ideas!
You paid money to attend these events, and you invested your time. Don’t let that go to waste. Learn how to get the most out of these mysterious swag bags we love to collect, for they hold a wealth of possibilities!