Ask any freelancer what they love most about working for themselves, and nine times out of ten they’ll say ‘flexibility of schedule’ – getting to choose their own hours instead of the ol’ 9-to-5 grind.
Don’t get me wrong, freelancing is hard AF (saving for taxes, never knowing when you’ll be paid, hustling to find new clients), but being able to work when you want, where you want and not having to adhere to someone else’s hours is something I don’t think I could ever trade, especially as a creative seeking inspiration (because as any creative knows, you can’t just flip a switch to turn it on). I love being able to choose my office from day-to-day, whether it’s at home or a local coffeeshop or a shared workspace – new spaces inspire new ideas.
But after the craziness of my wedding, I needed to escape the city and fully re-energize my creative spirit and the city was much to hectic to concentrate. I called up my friend Ashleigh, who is a freelance artist + designer, and we planned a mid-week getaway to Prince Edward County to unwind, brainstorm and plan our next moves as ladybosses. Turns out, escaping Toronto and leaving the daily grind behind for a few days was exactly what I needed to refocus my business, but is also a great way to just get shit done.
Looking to do a little creative getaway of your own? Here are the steps I took when planning a mid-week retreat for me and my (newly self-employed) bestie.
Find the perfect retreat space.
Depending on what type of work you do, you’ll want to find a space that inspires you creatively – a photographer might want an open loft space with massive windows so the light can stream in, whereas a writer might prefer a cosy little cabin with a fireplace to tuck away in. Consider what you you’ll be using the space to do and what details you’ll need included. We chose Sanctuary in The County – an old church that had been converted to a gorgeous open-space Airbnb. The large windows and gorgeous décor lent itself to gorgeous photos, but it was also peaceful and quiet and free from distraction – perfect for focusing on creative writing.
Gather your crew (or don’t).
Bringing friends or rocking solo is totally up to you and the purpose of your retreat. My best friend recently left her full-time job for the freelancer life, so this trip was the perfect opportunity for us to get away from the city mid-week and get in the headspace of brand-building. It was a chance to have discussions about our work, to come up with solutions for some of the problems we faced, and how we could help each other out. If I was looking to get a ton of writing done, however, I’d instead take a solo trip so it’s just me, my thoughts and my laptop screen.
Get there in style and comfort.
When you’re planning a creative retreat, the journey to get there is the transition between leaving your hectic daily life and slipping into a state of focus and serenity, so how you actually get to your getaway is just as important as the destination itself. As a BMW ambassador, the choice was simple – hit the road in a sleek black 2018 430i and arrive at our Airbnb in style. The four-door sedan was spacious and had plenty of room for our bags (because I’ve never been one to pack lightly), but still felt super sporty with its road-hugging drive and ballin’ red leather interior.
With a three-hour drive ahead of us, I was pretty stoked about how comfortable and detailed the car was. Heated seats to keep our butts warm, easy-to-use navigation projected onto the windshield so I never had to look away, and an entire entertainment system that could be programmed for different drivers. The whole point of a creative getaway is to leave all the fuss at home, so this car was the perfect ride to get things started.
Create an agenda (or don’t).
If you’re going on the retreat in an effort to separate yourself from routine and get a bunch of work done, it makes sense to create an agenda or what you’ll want to accomplish in specified chunks of time. But if you’re taking a creative getaway in order to brainstorm and daydream and think of your next brilliant idea in an organic way, don’t force it! Allow yourself the time to let your imagination run wild or to gather inspiration from your surroundings. You’re there to reinvigorate your creative spirit, not simply to tick boxes.
I won’t lie… turning the ‘out of office’ alert on my email is one of my favourite things EVER. As freelancers, we’re often pulled in a million different directions, and letting people know that ‘Hey, just an FYI, but I’m taking some time and will get back to you within 48 hours’ puts your mind at ease. You can always let clients know that they can call or text if there’s an emergency, but setting expectations for those back home allows you to focus on brainstorming and getting shizz done. Same goes for social media – limit your internet time to an hour a day, perhaps at the end, so your focus isn’t broken with notifications coming in.
Bring all the snacks.
Nothing kills focus like a grumbling tummy. Make sure you pack plenty of food so you’re not cutting into work/brainstorming time to go grab lunch or snacks. Then, at the end of the day, allow yourself to take a break to refresh, and head out for dinner as a reward for a long day of creative thinking.
This post was sponsored in part by BMW Canada.