My First Think Week

8min • 23 October 2023
100% human-written

I just came home from my very first think week and I want to share my thoughts, experience and reflections on it. Before I start, I will explain what it is, why I did it and how I prepared for it though.

Disclaimer: This is going to be a very personal story as I'm going to share some of inner struggles.

What is a Think Week?

If you've never heard the term think week before, you might wonder what it actually is. As far as I know, it goes back to Bill Gates who is allegedly doing this for over two decades already. He spends a full week in a remote cabins all by himself with no source of distraction apart from his very own mind.
Focusing purely on reading and thinking to explore new ideas. It's said that some of the most important ideas and innovations for Microsoft came up during those weeks.
Others use the week to reflect their values, beliefs and decisions. It really gives room for all kind of activities. Think of it as a hyper productive digital detox retreat.


These days, we are busier than ever. Our calendars are packed with meetings and we're constantly thinking about the next thing already. With the internet and social media in our pockets, distraction is only one click away.
This can block you from really thinking freely and leave you trap in everyday life. That's where the concept of think weeks come in. It's supposed to enhance creativity and clarity of thinking, improve productivity and increase your overall well-being.

So when I first heard about the concept of think weeks, I was immediately drawn to the idea of having one myself. There's a lot going on in my life right now and taking a break from all of that to fully focus on myself just sounded great.


Now that we know what it's all about, let's explore how to prepare for it. There's quite some things to consider in order to ensure a successful stay. After all, we don't want to get bored out there in woods.


First of all, we need to find a good location that fits the needs for our mission. I assume most of us don't own a list of cabins including kitchen staff and everything like Bill Gates does, but it's actually not that hard to find the right place.
True to Gates' example, I was searching for a little cabin ideally surrounded by nature and away from civilisation. The rule is: Less is more. A simple bed, basic kitchen and no technology other than my Macbook for research and note-keeping.

Tip If you want to go all in, leave all your devices at home and fully emerge yourself in the beauty of nature.

Extra Tip: Maybe you'll even find a place with a sauna or hot tub. A think week can be very exhausting and you surely won't regret a nice sauna in the evening.

After a quick search, I found a beautiful Airbnb in France (new tab) just a two hour drive away from where I live.

Inner view of my think week Airbnb


With the location fixed, it was finally time to start my planning. Since I've never done it before, I was browsing the web to figure out what others did during their retreats. I stumbled over a line that would stick with me and define the theme for my own think week:

"Use the week[end] to create the life that you want to have instead of to escape the life that you have."

- Jari Roomer

I wanted to do a mix of both strategy planning and personal reflection and so I started collecting topics and questions that I was eager to delve into. These included general goals and projects for the future such as planning my future house or creating a long-term financial strategy to very specific topics such as gut health, hypnosis or fermentation.

I prepared some exercises and questions that would help me reflect on my values, beliefs, fears, strengths and weaknesses and also planned to do extended meditation breaks to clear my mind.

Last but not least, I packed a variety of books on different topics to get some extended reading sessions in.


Prolonged focus and thinking requires a ton of energy. Therefore, besides my content agenda, I also planned out all the meals and bought the food in advance to not waste time and headspace when I was there.

Tip: Bring some nice drinks and treats as well. What's better than a really good coffee or Japanese green tea in the morning or a cold beverage in the evening.

My Experience

On Wednesday, October 18, I packed my stuff and left for was arguably the most exciting vacation in a very long time.

But to be honest, excitement was not the only thing I felt while driving to France. I was actually quite nervous about the whole journey.
To give you some context: I have been dealing with anxiety for over 10 years and ever since I was diagnosed with an aortic root aneurysm, safety and comfort were always amongst my top priorities. And here I was, going to a remote cabin in a foreign region all by myself.

Luckily, my wife was on the phone to talk to me during the first minutes until I eventually calmed down when unpacking my stuff. The cabin looked amazing and the intense smell of wood instantly lightened up my mood. I put some classic Funkadelic (new tab) on the speaker and cooked my very first meal. The first evening was primarily to arrive and so I started easy by reading through my bookmarks and watching some of my saved videos and documentaries.

Next morning, I started working on my plans and goals for the future, including business, personal development and finances. After lunch, I spent a few hours with self reflection and figuring out my inner demons. At this point I was so tired, that I had to take a little nap before doing my first longer meditation. The rest of the evening was dedicated to reading.

It was not until day three, that I really started to disconnect from the outside world. I read chapter after chapter and learned so many new things that I probably have content for the next two years on my learnings page. Ideas started to sprinkle from everywhere and by now I really understood why so many famous entrepreneurs and leaders swore by their yearly think weeks.
Unfortunately, a full day of hyper focus comes at a cost as well. After a very tasty dinner I once again got really tired and my whole body ached in pain as I was sitting still all day. I tried to relax, did some yoga followed by another stretch of meditation, but all the discomfort lead to sensations in my body that would eventually spark my anxiety again. Ideally, I'd be going for a brisk walk or do a small workout, but I was already too nervous for that. I distracted myself with another documentary and after a while the discomfort wore off leaving another learning: I really neglected my mental health this past year and definitely have to improve there over the coming weeks and months. Not necessarily the type of learning I was looking for, but nevertheless a very important one.

More reading followed that evening and on day four I felt more calm again. It was my final day and I had some outstanding topics yet to cover. I started by drawing some concepts for our future house which turned out to be a lot of fun and motivating for what was yet to come.

Finally, I finished my think week diving more into the topic of meditation reading Altered Traits (new tab). Then I packed my bags, had a final espresso and started my journey home.


Let's sum it up. It was definitely one of the most intense days I ever had and I really understand why it's becoming more and more popular. I have never felt more productive before and I'm really grateful for the opportunity and privilege to try it out.

I started reading seven books in total while fully finishing four of them. I watched over twelve hours of insightful videos and documentaries and practiced meditation for almost four hours during my stay.

I learned so many new things on topics including exercise, gut microbiota, insulin resistance, organic food, fermentation, dividends, financial independence, posture, sexual desire, procrastination, minimalism, meditation, mental health, habits, growing a business, UX design, architecture, cancer, polyphenols, music theory, history, philosophy and - most importantly - myself.


My very personal struggles aside, I will definitely do it again and I can only recommend all of you to try it out yourself. I already thought about experimenting with a trimmed down version that only takes a single day and that can be done at home.

If I do so, I will make sure to write about it as well.

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