This past week, a big project at work that was two years in the making came to its conclusion. At our debrief meeting Wednesday afternoon, our whole team was spent. It had been an exhausting few days and a long, drawn out schedule getting the work done. I had expected this and planned extra time off around the weekend, so I had five days to myself. I didn’t have much time to plan what I would accomplish during these five days (yes, I make to do lists for weekends and vacations), but I came up with a theme for each day: 

  • Friday – grading papers and planning class meetings
  • Saturday – clean and de-clutter
  • Sunday – create a newsletter for my coaching business
  • Monday – create a professional development plan
  • Tuesday – scrapbook and makes cards with a friend on Zoom; read

I have set aside time to work on personal projects in the past, but I didn’t think of it as a personal retreat until I heard Katie Linder talk about it on her podcast You’ve Got This. In this episode, she talks about taking an extended period of time for her creative work. This idea resonated with me because I always have some sort of creative project in the works, and I like the intentionality of scheduling time rather than hoping I can work it in. 

As I write this it is Sunday night. The cleaning and de-cluttering didn’t happen because my grading and class planning needed a second day. I had a ton of grading to do (see first paragraph about that big project) and I tend to get easily distracted when I have to grade papers (look at this fabulous dress I found!) so it can take me longer than it really should. I did draft my first newsletter today (squee!! email me at drkimburns@gmail.com if you want to be added to the mailing list!). 

I learned a few things that I can consider for my next personal retreat. First, I always think I’m going to get more done than what is humanly possible. I know this about myself and I should double the amount of time I think I will need. Second, which is related to the first, I planned too many themes. To get deeper into the work I think next time I will try multiple days for one theme or project. Third, when I plan these productive days I envision getting up early and having an entire day to work on a project. WHO AM I KIDDING? If I don’t have to get up for work, I sleep in. Then I lay in bed and scroll through my phone. I have no idea why I picture myself getting up early. It’s a fantasy!

I have some time off scheduled in June. I’ll let you know what I plan and how it goes. Please share with me how you organize your time for personal projects. I would love to hear from you. 

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