Why Plan a Solo Productivity Retreat
I nailed down a weekend for the first trip six weeks in advance. The buildup was bananas. A million activities were happening that weekend that tempted me to postpone (including the Broncos in the playoffs). The buildup also had me working on my objectives for the weekend. I was anxious for it to arrive. My plan was thorough and ready. I knew exactly what I wanted to get done outside of the distraction of keeping the basics of life going. The anticipation allowed me to fend off the temptation to postpone. Every weekend will present obstacles; Every prioritization shift will take perseverance in the beginning, so I decided to forge ahead.
Flying elsewhere limited my access to stuff. I had my computer, some books, some workout gear, and limited WiFi. The simplicity of the tools created focus. Focus allows for flow, and 48 hours of flow can move mountains (just to be clear, the moving of mountains is figurative, since moving mountains, though impressive, doesn’t have anything to do with my dreams).
I felt good about what I was doing the whole time. I kept thinking, “I know so many people who would enjoy doing this for themselves.” When you feel that way about something, when you feel like you’re busting up the status quo a little bit, it mobilizes you. It makes you feel proud, excited, and capable of anything.
Planning Your Retreat
Questions to Ask Yourself
What would make this feel exciting but won’t make it too complicated?
It’s got to be a balance. I would have loved to do my 48 hour retreat in Spain, but the challenge of making that happen would have made me cancel. At the same time, I could have done it at my house, but that wouldn’t have gotten the buildup, simplicity, and cool factors done.
What are your highest priorities that also require a higher level of focus?
I find that my regular day-to-day makes it tough to dive into my project tasks that require more intense problem solving to make progress. Focus on the more intense stuff during your Solo Productivity Retreat. Inbox zero shouldn’t be the goal (unless you’re in really bad shape there). Laundry, paying bills, and reading US Weekly are probably not what you’re looking to make happen here. Reading a book, taking an online course, writing for your blog, and strategizing your personal business model are all good objectives.
Where could you go that you could go back to regularly?
Make the planning easy so Solo Productivity Retreats can become a regular part of your life. Pick a place that’s easy to travel to and inexpensive. Pick a hotel or AirBnB that might be good to go back to again and again.
What to Look for in Hotel and Amenities
I like a spot that I can get to easily from the airport and allows me to walk to food and activity. That makes it easy. I don’t want to rent a car or get a bunch of Ubers. I’m focused but still need sustenance.
I want to leverage 1–2 hours out of every day for fitness. There are no distractions, but 16 hours in a day of straight work is unrealistic. I’ll make better use of 14 hours with a workout or two in between. Seriously, your work stamina is going to be one of the blockers, and the stimulation of a workout will renew your focus tank. Not all gyms are made equal when it comes to hotels.
Where are you going to work? Investigate the area around the place you’re staying. Does the hotel have WiFi? Are there coffee shops in the area?
Obstacles Always Pop Up
Accept this truth and you’ll be able to forge ahead. If the expectation is that the sea will part and the path to your first Solo Productivity Retreat will be paved in gold or a piece of cake, you may find yourself bummed out after canceling. You’ll probably start to second guess if you can take a whole weekend away. You’ll probably start to question whether you should spend the money on your accommodations. You’ll probably convince yourself other things are more important. What could be more important than taking a giant leap toward your dreams? So and so’s dinner party? What’s his name’s invitation to watch football? Your daughter’s birthday party (okay, that’s pretty important, but make sure to not plan your Solo Productivity Retreat on that weekend, ya silly).
Tools to Help You Plan
Jetsetter: Will help you find a great place to stay at a good value, and most importantly, they have great photos of the spots they have available.
Google Maps feature ‘Explore around you”: In the event you haven’t used this, you should. You’ll get the lay of the land before you go anywhere.
My Plan: If you’d like all the specifics of my plan, email me.
First Things First
Goals for the Weekend
Friday night nail down your goals for the weekend. You probably have more than you can get done, so prioritize them. PRIORITIZE THEM! That’s me yelling emphatically, “Prioritize them,” to make sure you do that night one. It makes a big difference. You don’t want to use your time deciding what to do. Just do.
Create a Schedule…that you can break
After you’ve nailed your goals, create a schedule. You can break it and adjust to how you’re feeling, but you want to be intentional with those decisions. Make sure you know what you’re skipping or changing. Just be intentional.
If you don’t already know the area you’re in, make sure you go explore it. You want to know if this should make the rotation as a good place to go back to for future Solo Productivity Retreats. One of your goals should be to know for certain if you need to change your destination next time or if you’ve nailed it. Just explore.
Tools to Help Focus
StayFocused: a Chrome extension that will help limit your time on websites outside of your plan.
Simple Pomodoro: Chrome extension that helps you keep your work stamina up by breaking things up into work time and break time.
The Great Suspender: Chrome extension that puts tabs you’re not actively using to sleep reducing the memory Chrome is costing you.
Make sure to take some time after the weekend to reflect. Reflection is powerful. It makes you more aware of what you’ve already experienced so you can make changes going forward. Even if those changes are just tweaks. Writing this has helped me get even more clear on what my next Solo Productivity Retreat should accomplish. Intentionality changes everything and reflecting on what you just experienced is a critical component of intentionality. Here are some questions to start with:
What Went Well?
What Could Have Been Better?
What Do You Want to Do Next Time?
Plan the Tasks for the Week Ahead
You want to maintain the momentum you generated with daily progress, even when it’s small progress.
“If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something that is massive.” — Kenneth Goldsmith
You’ve given yourself a boost over the weekend, keep it rolling with tiny tasks each day.
Schedule the Next One
It’ll be easier to push through each tiny task when you know exactly when the next big push will happen.