I build solo, DIY retreats into my schedule as a freelancer — and they’ve made me better at my job. Here’s how I do it.

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Susan Margolin, freelancer

Susan Margolin is a freelance writer who creates data-driven corporate content.
She commits to at least two “do-it-yourself” (DIY) retreats per year for her professional development and mental health.
Before she goes, she sets her time and budget constraints, picks a quiet location, manages family logistics, and forwarns that she’ll be turning off her phone.
While there, she sets intentions for her day, but doesn’t strictly adhere to her agenda.
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“How was your escape?”

My friend’s question threw me. I had just returned from two solo nights away in rural Massachusetts. I had informed clients not to email me. My phone had been silenced to “Do Not Disturb.” My husband and kids survived without me.

To my friend, my time away was “lucky.” In her world — like that of most professionals and parents — a trip to the moon was more realistic than carving out two days alone. But for me, it’s not a fantasy. It’s my strategic priority.

“I didn’t escape,” I corrected her. “I created a retreat.”

The benefits of a ‘DIY’ retreat

As a work-from-home freelance writer and mother of two children (ages 11 and seven), I commit to at least two “do-it-yourself” (DIY) retreats per year for my professional development and mental health. My retreats are more than “self-care” or “me-time.” They are intentional time alone when I hit pause on daily tasks to focus on long-term priorities. DIY retreats are my cornerstone practice for work-life integration.

Four years ago, I had never heard of work-life integration. I was in the midst of a career break in Singapore, where I had worked and lived with my family for almost a decade. But I struggled against my decision to take some time off. I cringed at the question, “What do you do?” On one particularly frustrating day, I calculated a simple, shocking truth: Since becoming a mother, I hadn’t spent more than a day alone.

So I booked an extended weekend trip to Bali, including two days in silence. I wrote. I wandered. I took copious notes in the margins of William Bridges’ book “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes” as I mapped potential paths for my future. Sometimes I did nothing.

In between these focused bursts of reflection and meandering moments of solitude, I discovered that uninterrupted alone time centered me. “I want to bottle up this feeling and bring it home with me,” my journal entry from the airplane home reads.

Over four years, I have designed seven DIY retreats. They have resulted in a marketing plan for my consulting business, numerous articles, and ideas for a book I’ve dreamed of writing for years. But the greatest benefit outweighs these outputs. I’ve created a space where I am 100% myself. I’ve gained perspective. As my husband explained to our daughter, I “go away to come back with more to give.”

The 4 priorities I set before I leave

DIY retreats combine strategic planning skills that I developed after more than …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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