Retreat Report

Last week I announced that I was planning a 3-day solo business retreat at my house, so I wanted to follow up and let you all know how it went!

If you missed it and want the skinny, I planned this retreat because I had some projects for my own business that desperately needed some TLC. So I unplugged from social media, email, my clients, basically the entire world, for three days so I could focus on developing a course that I’ve had in my heart for over a year now.

More info on the course is coming, but if your interest is already piqued you can read more about it here.

Here’s how it went down:

  1. I set up some ground rules for myself. Things like, not checking any of my social media accounts, my email, playing games on my phone or computer, no Netflix, and no drinking. The idea was to be as focused as possible.
  2. Then I made some exceptions to the rules like, I could login to Pinterest as long as I was reading articles that were directly related to the task at hand and I would implement what I learned immediately; I could make a list of 3 movies that I love, but could only watch one if I had completed all of my tasks for the day and still had time remaining before I should get ready for bed; I could use WhatsApp to message my boyfriend a couple times a day because three days with no humans is pretty lonely.
  3. I made a list of things I needed to do to prep for the three days of focused seclusion like, going grocery shopping, rearranging my apartment for a fresh perspective, draft an email autoresponder letting people know I’m not “here” this weekend, clean the heck out of my apartment so I’m not distracted by clutter.

Once my ground rules, exception, and prep lists were ready I started looking at what my schedule might include. The first thing I did was think about the things I wanted to achieve daily. I wanted this to be an opportunity to start reinforcing new habits that I’ve been meaning to get around to:

  • Practice the Miracle Morning
  • Make breakfast and listen to a podcast (I chose Being Boss this week)
  • Get dressed in real clothes and don’t live in yoga pants every day
  • Eat lunch AWAY from the computer – no working, only eating and appreciating the way I am nourishing my body
  • Declutter at the end of the day (especially my desk!)
  • Spend some time reading before bed. I do this so that my eyes and brain get a break from LED screens before I try to snooze. Plus, Game of Thrones. Helloooooo!
  • Sleep by midnight, even if I need to take melatonin or listen to a guided sleep meditation

Then I busted out a Google Doc and made a rough schedule outline. Nothing fancy. It looked something like this:

8am – Morning meditation/visualization/affirmations/prayer.
9am – Egg scramble with veggies and coffee. No social media or emails. Reading the news and listening to music is okay.
10am – Shower and get ready
11am –
11:50am – Mental break. Reset.
12pm –
No more coffee.
1pm – Make lunch while listening to podcast and eat away from any physical work product.
2pm –
3pm –
3:50pm – Mental break. Reset.
4pm –
5pm –
6pm – Make dinner and eat away from any physical work product.
7pm –
8pm –
8:50 – Quickly debrief. Write a reflection for the day. How am I feeling about the work I accomplished? Did things go according to plan? How am I feeling about tomorrow? What does it feel like to be unplugged from social media and email?
9pm – Declutter the house and lay out clothes for tomorrow.
9:30 – Rinse off and get ready for bed (hey, it’s hot in Mexico right now – if you’re not under the water at least twice daily, you’re doing it wrong).
10pm – Read Game of Thrones
11pm – Gratitude journal and sleep meditation
12am – Sleep

Next, it was time to fill in the blank spaces. So I mapped out what my work goals were for this retreat. Initially I was going to work on three different projects over the three days, but I ended up quickly nixing that plan and only focusing on one. It would have been way too chaotic and stressful to try and wrap up three projects, and all that cramming would have defeated the purpose of the retreat.

I used my Bosscation planner to list my three main goals (one for each day) and then broke those goals down into six or seven smaller, more specific action steps. I plugged those action steps into the schedule to fill it up with business development sessions that each had ONE clear focus.

While I wasn’t able to strictly adhere to the schedule, I used it as a guideline. If I needed more time to complete something, I took it and moved things around. At the end of each day there were some items left over, so each night I looked at what remained on my list of things to complete during the retreat and re-prioritized them. Was the thing that I didn’t finish something that could wait until after the retreat or did it need to be the first thing I focused on the next morning?

During my nightly debrief/journal sessions, I reflected on everything I accomplished that day.

On Day 2 specifically, I got hung up on one task for almost two hours before I realized how much time had passed! I got annoyed with myself and couldn’t help but think what a waste of time that had been. Frustrated, I moved my schedule around to accommodate that time lapse and what I didn’t realize until the end of the day was that I allowed that negative emotion to linger over me for the rest of the day. But when I listed out everything I had actually gotten done that day, I was still blown away by how much work product was created.

Note To Self: It’s okay to forgive yourself when things don’t go exactly according to plan. Take a deep breath and move forward.

The most exciting part? I’m freaking floored at how much I was able to accomplish this weekend! By the end of the three days I:

  1. Reflected on my overall life and lifestyle situation: what’s working? what’s not? what is the lifestyle I am working for? what changes can I make now to get there?
  2. Reviewed the “why” for creating my course and rekindled the passion I had when I was first inspired by the idea.
  3. Created a 10-week curriculum for my signature course: VA Essentials: Build Your Biz!
  4. Edited the launch calendar I created during my retreat planning and mapped out the entire beta program + the first round of the hard launch.
  5. Brainstormed where I could collaborate with other experts for certain sections of the course. (P.S. I’m looking for a lawyer who works with creatives, an accountant, and a website designer!)
  6. Mapped out my beta program so that I can launch it on July 17th.
  7. Wrote a 90-Day Plan of Action for completing this course and having it ready for a public launch in October (actually… it morphed into a super detailed 90-day plan with lots of deadlines to keep me on track and a loose outline for the next three quarters as well!)
  8. Created ALL of the promotional materials I will need in order to search for beta testers over the next few weeks. I’m talking promotional copy, social media graphics, blog posts, newsletters, every single piece of promotional content = DONE.
  9. Designed a landing page to send beta testers to when they express interest in joining me.
  10. Outlined and drafted my first two course modules (i.e. five lessons).

In sum: This retreat has become one of my favorite ideas in a really long time and was absurdly productive! Obviously, I can’t keep up this extreme level of productivity or else I will experience a massive burnout. But what it taught me was the value of disconnecting from social media and laying out clear-cut goals both personally and professionally.

I’m going to continue implementing the Miracle Morning, eating my meals away from work, and reading at night before bed. I also plan on mapping out my daily objectives every night for the next day and then reflecting on what I accomplish at the end of each day. It really helped to be able to get out of bed every morning knowing exactly what was ahead of me for the day, and it was rewarding and fulfilling to see how much work I actually completed by the day’s end.

A big THANK YOU to everyone who supported my decision to take these three days to myself, especially my amazing clients! Every time I get nervous that I may disappoint them, they come back at me with so much understanding, encouragement, and compassion. I’m eternally grateful for all of you!


P.S. If you are interested in being a beta tester for my master course, VA Essentials: Build Your Biz! you can check out all the details here or feel free to reach out to me with any questions at
jamielynn@joyandcoffee.com!

Comments

  1. I may have to try that one of these days! Sounds fabulous 😀

  2. I am SO excited for you and can’t believe all that you accomplished! Congratulations on prepping your course. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

  3. Your retreat sounds amazing! I totally need to try this. And isn’t the Miracle Morning amazing!? I was on top of my Miracle Morning routine all last summer, then kinda lost momentum in the fall after two big relocations. But now that I’m settled, I’ve started reading the book again, reexamining my vision board & affirmations, and I’m ready to dive in again. The routine helps me start every day with so much more energy and creative ideas! So happy you got SO MUCH out of your retreat. Go girl!

    • joyandcoffee says:

      It was seriously SO amazing! I’m so glad I did this and only wish it had occurred to me sooner! And yes, the Miracle Morning is wonderful. I only pulled the idea off of Pinterest, but would love to get my hands on the book and dig in deeper to the whole experience. Even with just the basic outline though, it helps me gain so much clarity and vision in the morning and sets me up for some real focus throughout the day.

  4. I love your attention to detail and transparency!

    • joyandcoffee says:

      Thank you so much! I hope this post encourages other entrepreneurs to consider a planning retreat like this, and I always try to be as open as possible with what I struggle through. Nobody is perfect!

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