Knock Out Hella Business Tasks with a Personal Retreat {Work + Play}

I’m writing to you on this fresh, bright Monday morning feeling like the most productive business owner ever. Ok, that’s a little over the top, but seriously, I just had a crazy productive weekend and have to tell you HOW, so you can do the same. If you’re anything like me, your business to-do list is never ending and balance is something you’re constantly striving for. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve said to my husband, “If I just had ONE week of no interruptions, I would get so far ahead.” Ever felt like that? Yes? Keep reading.

 

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes of Fearless and Framed:

The latest run of the Mastery Moment-Seekers Course completed at the end of April. In early March, I was working on a new product called Profitable Photography Workshops for Moms – a program designed to help photographers get their beginner level workshop up and running quickly (and network like crazy in their community using this workshop strategy). This project is actually still in the works, because I’m perfectionist like that. Between the course + the new project, very little time was left to keep up with the rest of the day-to-day F&F tasks, such as:

  • super educational blog posts for the F&F audience (and emails to match)
  • networking with photographers to feature on the new version of our site (coming later in 2016)
  • working on my own marketing system to turn new contacts into fans and eventually purchasers
  • working on getting in front of new people through growing our audience

Replace the course + product creation with all of your sessions, editing, and maybe even your own mentoring or workshops and we probably sound pretty similar, right?!

One of my course students, Katie, talked about how cool it would be for our Alumni student group to do a Content Creation Bootcamp. First, I thought this was genius and something I can easily implement and conduct with the group. Second, it lit a fire under me to get my own LONG list of writings I’ve been wanting to create a plan of attack. And therefore, the Weekend Writing Retreat was born. Here’s the thing – I’m so hooked on this, that I can see myself doing this retreat for tasks other than writing, such as reflecting on business + setting goals for the next quarter or year, mapping out and preparing for a promotion, etc.

This stuff is so good, you may wanna pin this:

how to complete your to-do list

 

Here are ideas of writing tasks you can batch out on your own Personal Business Retreat:

  • Writing blog posts
  • Creating and filling up your social media calendar with content
  • Writing automated email sequences (from read magnet to sales funnel)
  • Writing email sequences for welcoming new clients and reconnecting with past clients
  • Catch up on accounting, editing, or other tasks you may have fallen slightly behind on
  • Give your full attention do creating your first/next ebook, workshop, or course

 

How to Create a Personal Retreat to Knock Out Your Business Tasks, Step By Step

Set a focus goal

The important part for me was to make this fun and pressure-free. However, if you want serious productivity, before you go on your retreat, you need to know what you want to tackle the most. This actually takes away some of the pressure, because you can dive right into what’s important and waste no time thinking, “should I do this? should I do that?”

For me, I wanted to knock out a bunch of writing (from new lead magnets, a new guide to pair with an old product, a new welcome email series, to a few things I owed my brand designer for the new F&F site coming later this year).

 

Pick a date and a location

You’ll find excuse after excuse if you don’t just pick a date now and add it to your calendar.

I chose the first free weekend, which happened to be 2 weeks after this idea happened. Not too far out to where my priorities could change, but not too close so that I had ample time to map out steps 1 and 2. For my hotel, I used this:

Save up to 60% off 3+ Star Hot Rate® Hotels via Hotwire!

I’ve never used that site til now and now I’m hooked! I went to the hotel’s site and know I saved about $40 going this route. It set me up in a hotel with a hot breakfast and free wifi. That’s all you really need!

Tip: Choose a location that’s at least 30 minutes away. This gives ample time to feel like you’re getting away, relax and listen to an inspiring podcast on the way, and let’s you shed any mom-guilt you may have leaving so you shift into being in the zone to get sh*t done.

So go add your personal business retreat to your calendar now… go ahead… I’ll wait.

It’s in your calendar? Great!

 

Set yourself up to get in and get busy.

So from step 1, you know what tasks you want to focus on. Depending on the tasks you want to work on, try to eliminate as much of the planning within those tasks as possible. This way, you can get in and execute like a boss.

For me, I didn’t just make a to-do list of things to write. I looked at each piece and made sure I outlined key points to cover in my writing. This allowed me to start productively writing. Of course, you may need to include time for brainstorming, but if you can dedicate a few minutes or an hour prior to your retreat to brainstorm your content for your ideas, this will save you heaps of time + progress will be made in strides! For example, the 7 Day Storyteller’s Photo Challenge that I ran twice last year is coming back. This time, it will be a seasonal challenge. So I made a list of each of the 4 topics and then each of the 7 topics for each challenge. When I sat down to write the next 7 Day Storyteller’s Challenge, all of my notes helped me knock this out in a flash.

personal business retreat for time management

 

Write now, revise later

If you’re anything like me, you can spend hours on ONE blog post making it perfect. For this to work for me, I felt it was best to let all of my thoughts out as organized as I could. Then, dedicate time later to revise and polish. I believe in this, because I get off on tangents quickly and when I’m emotionally invested in what I’m writing (which is usually what’s happening on that first draft) I make things too long or overanalyze parts to leave in or take out. Going back later with fresh eyes seems to be a better route for me.

 

Kiss the kids and spouse goodbye

I had to throw this section in here, because as I was leaving, total mom/wife guilt struck me. There were piles of folded laundry to be put away on our dining table and the dishes were out of control (because the soap didn’t melt on the last dishwasher run). I felt like I should stay and at least take care of those to make my husband’s life a little easier. But I didn’t. Saying YES to all of that says NO to the tasks you need to complete for your business (which inevitably comes back and helps the family as a whole).

Dave and the kids were actually gone when I was leaving, so I did take 5 minutes to color a little love note in chalk. This made Kendall’s day when they got back home.

 

Tips for Personal Business Retreat Success:

Do Not Disturb

When you arrive, put the Do Not Disturb on your door, your phone, and your computer. In fact, don’t even bother getting on the Wifi unless your task includes you being on the internet. If you must get online, stay away from checking your email or Facebook notifications – this is not the time for that. This is time for you to knock out what you came here to do, friend!

Track your efforts!

This is important, because you’ll be able to see what you’ve accomplished. Then, you’ll be able to plan even better for next time and accurately determine how much you can actually complete.

For me, I had a much longer list of things to write than I knew I could complete. Because I plan to do my Weekend Writing Retreat quarterly, next time I’ll have a better idea of how many writings I will be most likely finish.

Take Breaks

Every 25-60 minutes you need to get up and move in order to keep your stamina energized. Go for a walk around the hotel (I did this and used the voice to text feature on my phone to keep writing as I walked), go for a swim or dance it out. Keep movement alive and hydrated to keep your energy up!

Relax!

This should feel be fun, not all about work. Indulge in a few things you love! For me, that meant a big pizza and watching tv to unwind. Though, I did not eat anything too heavy in the middle of the day, because I didn’t want to land in a food coma. I forgot I brought it, but even had a foot scrub and facial mask. For me, 2 nights away (when one child that wakes multiple time in the night still as he’s getting molars), just the full nights of sleep was a dream!

 

Packing List

  • Laptop & charger
  • External hard drive (if you use one; I do!)
  • Laptop Table Desk like this one
  • Cell phone & charger
  • Comfy yoga pants and oversized hoodie (or whatever your comfy means)
  • Your focus goal and notes
  • Snacks and water
  • Pizza money or pre-made sandwiches (your choice to splurge or pack and save)
  • Favorite coffee creamer (and coffee maybe)
  • Fun things for relaxing time (crosswords, spa treatment things, bathing suit for the pool)
  • Optional: a cooler to transport your cold goods
  • Optional: your own pillow (I like to bring mine along)

 

In a nutshell, that’s all you need for your own Personal Business Retreat to knock out hella business tasks!

I’d love to hear if you’ve done something like this or if you take this as inspiration, be sure to come back & tell me what you’ve accomplished! Comment below.

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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