While it sure beats working in a regular office, freelancing can still turn into a daily grind, leaving you little time to evaluate your business and work on larger projects. That’s a shame, since stepping away from your work every once in a while can have huge payoffs, both personally and financially.
To give yourself some much-needed space, why not take a solo work retreat? It’s like a vacation, but with the express purpose of evaluating your business and pursuing projects you don’t normally have time for. What’s more, you’ll return refreshed and energized, brimming with new ideas and a renewed understanding of how to develop your business going forward.
In this post, I’ll explain why taking a solo work retreat is one of the best things you can do for your business. I’ll cover everything you need to know to make the retreat a success, including choosing the perfect location, making room in your schedule to take the retreat, and how to structure each day you’re away.
Let’s get started!
An Introduction to a Solo Work Retreat and Its Benefits
So, what exactly is a solo work retreat? As I alluded to in the introduction, it’s a lot like a vacation, except with the express purpose of focusing on your business. The goal isn’t to do your usual work sitting beach- or poolside. Rather, it’s to get away from your regular freelance work to explore ways to improve your business and work on larger projects.
Here are some of the benefits of taking a solo work retreat:
- You have time to focus intently on a large project. Essentially, you can work on all of the projects you keep putting off that don’t fit into your normal schedule such as rewriting the copy on your freelance website, writing an e-book to serve as a lead magnet, or switching to a new bookkeeping system.
- You can get some perspective on your business. It’s easy to lose track of higher level business concerns day-to-day. For instance, when was the last time you evaluated the system you use to find and pitch clients? It’s a task that can save you time, and make you more money.
- There’s the opportunity to develop new income ideas. It’s easy to get locked into one particular niche, so narrowing your focus is a great way to find clients in the beginning. However, if you continue to do the same work year after year, you’re missing out on opportunities to progress and grow your income.
Let’s now take a look at how to select the right location for your work retreat.
How to Select the Right Location
Choosing the right location for your retreat can mean the difference between a productive or a disappointing one. You don’t want to go somewhere with constant noise, bad internet, or any other inconveniences – so you should do everything you can to pick the best possible location. For example:
- Choose somewhere without distractions. This includes everything from rowdy partiers to screaming children. You’ll want somewhere quiet and tranquil.
- Find a place that covers the basics. Spending half of the first day of your retreat figuring out how to get the internet working isn’t fun, nor is having to travel several miles to get food. Make sure the location has these essentials taken care of.
- Pick an inspiring setting. I feel much more inspired to write and create when I have a window with a mountain view, or a nearby forest to stroll in. Whatever sort of setting inspires you to create, make sure it’s the backdrop for your retreat.
Here are some resources I recommend to help you find a place that meets your criteria:
- Airbnb. Often, finding the right place for your retreat is as simple as booking a place on Airbnb. Make sure you filter your search by criteria such as “Laptop friendly workspace” or “Wireless internet.”
- Nomad House. This company creates 10-day retreats for freelancers. Depending on your goals, this could be perfect!
- Top Getaways for Entrepreneurs. This is a list of 12 pre-existing retreats aimed at freelancers and entrepreneurs.
How to Make Room in Your Schedule
Like many important things, it’s easy to put off a work retreat because you “don’t have enough time.” To keep yourself from falling victim to this excuse, you need to make the time in your schedule.
How exactly do you do that? Here are my suggestions:
- Inform you clients well in advance. Let your clients know about this trip at least a month before you go. This will alleviate lots of stress and ambiguity for both of you. There’s no need to justify the trip; just politely inform your clients.
- Discuss work due while you’re gone. If you have any work due during your trip, discuss with your client how you’ll complete it. Usually, this will be as simple as submitting it before you leave. Whatever you do, don’t leave any regular work to do during the retreat.
- Put the retreat on your calendar well in advance. This will prevent you from scheduling any work, meetings, or calls when you’re not around.
There are plenty of other things you can (and should) do to make room in your schedule. Here are some great resources for further reading:
- Your 5 Point Checklist to Delivering Client Work On Time (Every Time).
- 6 Steps to Prepare for a Vacation from Your Freelance Business.
How to Structure Your Retreat Days
Ever had a day where you were really busy, but got nothing done? In the age of digital work and instant communication, it’s far too easy for this to happen. You certainly don’t want to derail your retreat, so make sure that you give each day a defined structure.
Here are my tips for actually structuring your retreat days:
- Wake up at the same time each day. This may seem obvious, but it’ll give you a consistency on which to build the rest of the day.
- Devote each day to accomplishing a specific goal. If you’re using your retreat to work on a larger project, break the project down into smaller goals and set aside each day for accomplishing one of them. This will help you focus and deliver results.
- Build in time for reflection and thinking. Don’t spend every minute of your retreat working. For my own retreats, I like to plan 1–2 hours each day just for unstructured reflection and thinking. I spend this time taking long walks and freewriting, which frequently leads to new business ideas and insights.
If you’re still struggling with how to structure your time, don’t fear! Check out these top notch articles to help you:
When you work as a freelancer, it’s easy to get so caught up in maintaining your business that you don’t make time to develop it. Taking a solo work retreat not only gives you a break from your regular workload, it offers you the time to focus on growing your business and to finish longer projects.
To make you solo work retreat a success, keep the following key points in mind:
- Understand that a work retreat is valuable enough to make room in your schedule.
- Take your retreat somewhere with minimal distractions.
- Clear your schedule well in advance of the retreat, making sure to inform your clients.
- Structure each day of your retreat for maximum productivity.
What advice do you have for getting the most out of a solo work retreat? Share your insights in the comments section below!
Image credit: Kapa65.