How Not to Lose Your Steam at #SXSW

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I love Austin and I love SXSW. It’s something that is hard to describe, almost beyond words as you are cramming the potential of meeting 35,000 people into just a few short days. My experience at SXSW in 2014 will be much more low key since I’m near the end of my first trimester for my pregnancy. I haven’t even arrived in Austin and I’m already exhausted. Every. Single. Day.

How Not to Lose Your Steam at South by South West in 2014

Enough about me. SXSW offers a fantastic opportunity to connect, engage and meet a number of different people from bloggers to journalists, startup founders to marketing and other techies. It’s a diverse group of people who are stacking parties, meet ups, coffee meetings, events and sessions into a limited amount of time. Here are my tips ton how to survive, thrive and not lose your steam at SXSW.

  • Plan Your Day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and I recommend not attending more than 2 sessions each day. Arrive to sessions early at least 15-20 minutes and schedule in travel time to go to parties as well as hailing a cab or walking from place to place. Don’t forget to make time to charge your devices because even a Mophie juicepack needs to be charged especially at SXSW more than once a day.
  • Make Reservations. It seems like much of South By is spent waiting in line. Waiting to see Grumpy Cat or waiting to hail a cab. When I am attending large conferences or events like SXSW, I always reserve a table for lunch using Open Table within walking distance of the convention center or where my before lunch meeting happens to be. I love Open Table because you don’t get penalized if you miss your reservation, and more importantly, you are guaranteed to not have to wait. Plan for some extra friends to join you when you make your reservation. Make sure you select the downtown part of Austin so you won’t be traveling too far.
  • Get plenty of rest. Get as much rest and sleep as you can spare. It’s important, really. I try to get 5 hours of sleep a night and schedule in the option to take a afternoon nap so I can keep going long into the night. This is a challenge if your housing is over the bridge or God forbid in Round Rock. If you are staying way outside of Austin, get lots of sleep each night or find a friend where you can crash for an hour if you need.
  • Caffeinate Appropriately. I’m a huge fan of Starbucks but not at SXSW. The line for caffinated beverages is always, always 45 minutes long for the really good stuff especially when you need it. Travel with a box of Starbucks Via so you can enjoy a yummy Starbucks without the wait. Just add the packet and water and you have a caffeinated beverage without the wait. If you prefer Red Bull or RockStar Energy Drinks, invest in a six pack at the grocery store storing them at your hotel room or house. While your at it, pick up a case of water too.
  • Bring plenty of tea, honey and allergy medication. I’ve learned the hard way as I’ve lost my voice every SXSW but one. For those of you with seasonal allergies, cedar trees seem to always be pollenating the week of SXSW so double up on your allergy medication, bring plenty of green team and lots of honey. If you are really desperate which I am, I bring my netti pot driving away the dreaded SXSW cedar fever. Allergies make you extremely tired and not a lot of fun.

SXSW is best with a little planning and preparation while factoring in time for spontaneity. Yes, you read me correctly. Factor in time to do nothing or just go where the mood strikes you, but remember to focus and remind yourself why you are at SXSW. What makes SXSW so very special is just following your instincts and connecting with new and interesting people who might be new friends, business partners for future co-founders of your companies.


Get party reminders, alerts & special access to SXSW by texting “SXSW” to 55678 powered by Blogging4Jobs. Do it! I promise you’ll be glad you did.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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