Great post--thanks for sharing! I tend to tell people to think of that one thing that they need right now to push their writing or career to the next level and then seek out opportunities to attain that one thing during the conference. It takes the pressure off of trying to do it all.
By narrowing down my focus, I can skip sessions if I am feeling overwhelmed or overloaded. Permission to NOT stay plugged in during an entire conference can make a big difference in what I actually retain. I take caffeine breaks and mental health breaks, and I hide in my room (writing) until I recharge. I work hard to put myself out there during conferences, but I'm also sensitive to my natural introverted nature.
I can't wait for my next conference, James River Writers, in VA.