General Conference weekend can be both a pleasure and a challenge. We are accustomed to three hours of church, but Conference totals up to eight hours, not including the Priesthood and Women’s sessions. That many hours requires a lot attention and dedication. Prophets guide and apostles teach, but some of us still struggle to pay attention throughout. Here are five tips to keep you focused through all the sessions of General Conference.
- Turn off your phone. Unless you vitally need your phone for an emergency or perhaps work, turn it off. Phones ring, beep, and flash, creating a distraction that calls for your constant attention. Moreover, many people own smart phones that contain multiple social media apps that create yet another distraction. If you are set on sharing your conference watching on social media, post a selfie before the session begins. When it’s over, you can boot up your phone and get all the highlights and recaps. Share all you want between sessions, but the session should be all about you listening to the speakers and pondering their words. Having your phone off takes the temptation away of being able to take a quick look at your notifications.
- Have a pen and notebook with you. If you’re an avid note taker, a pen and paper are the perfect match for you. You can take all the notes you want. If you aren’t an avid note taker, try it. It may give you something new to do during conference that keeps you awake, but focused. And if note taking is your downfall, try sketching or drawing. Maybe you’ll develop a hidden talent while you listen or maybe you’re an artist already. Either way, writing and drawing allow you to listen while keeping your hands busy.
- Switch up how you watch or listen to conference each session. Watch a session on the TV, and just listen to the next one on the radio. After that, you can try listening to it through headphones. It will tune out any other distractions and put the talks right in your ears. You can also try moving locations in your house: watch a session in the living room, listen to it on the porch, etc.
- Stay awake. For some, the speakers can seem to be humming a lullaby that brings an easy drift into sleep. Falling asleep, though, is pretty close to just not watching conference. You made an effort to be there listening, but a bigger effort can be made to stay awake through it. You’re at home, in your pajamas, and it can be so easy to let your eyes droop. To prevent that, try to get your rest before conference starts. If you have trouble not falling asleep, bring back an old hobby. Number 2 suggests writing or drawing, but there is much more. You can make bracelets, knit, or do any other quiet, simple hobby that allows you to listen and continue to be attentive. If none of those work, try to sit somewhere that you are unlikely to fall asleep. Watching conference in a church meetinghouse should help keep you awake as well.
- Keep snacks nearby. Snacks can also keep you awake, but can also prevent you from getting up during conference to get food. If you have it close by, you won’t have to miss anything to stop that stomach from growling.
If you follow these tips, hopefully you will stay awake, focused, and attentive. Watching conference with an attitude to learn and actions that allow you to focus should help you get so much more. It is 8+ hours of church. Get the most out of it!
Lauren is studying Journalism at Brigham Young University and considers the East Coast home. She has a passion for writing, photography, skiing, hiking, and traveling. She enjoys studying German and is married to her best friend.