Get Out of the Office!

I just got back from the WebVisions conference in Portland and am feeling refreshed and renewed. So refreshed, in fact, I thought I’d pull up my soapbox and tell you why you should occasionally attend an event, too.

As techies, we often fall into the rut of doing the same thing day in and day out. We come in. We check the server logs. We check e-mail. Work on our main project. Go home. The next day, we get up and do it again. The problem is that, well, we become prone to doing the same thing all the time. And as the old saying goes, when the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems start to look like nails.

So it’s important to shake things up, get some new perspectives. Tech events are a great way to accomplish both.

You’d be surprised at how often your employer will say yes when you ask to attend an event. More often than not, companies will pay for your registration fees, and sometimes any travel involved in getting there. So don’t be shy about asking your boss for the chance to get some outside exposure. Just play up the learning and increased productivity angles.

If your employer is a short-sighted cheapskate – I mean frugal – then there are plenty of free events that can get you jump started. Check your local software or tech association. They’ll often have a variety of free or low-cost events you can attend. Then there’s always Microsoft, which puts on no end of interesting free events, complete with cool Microsoft schwag.

If you can’t leave the office, blogs can be great way get the kick-in-the-pants effect. So look around to see which thought leaders in your field are blogging. You can bet some of them are.

Events or blogs don’t always have to be strictly tech to be valuable. You never know when anthropology will apply to a software design problem. The important thing is to keep things fresh and get outside of your daily slog.

By getting out of the office, you’ll connect with your wider tribe and realize you’re not alone or unique in the challenges you face each day. You’ll get exposed to fresh ideas on how you can be better at your work. Once you take the plunge and start interacting with the larger tech world, you’ll gain insight and see the same old same old in a totally different light. So, what are you waiting for?

— Chad Broadus

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