The Power of Small Scale Sabbaticals

In Entrepreneurship by Ed Williams

I love what I do.

It doesn’t feel like work. So it’s easy to rack up 12+ hours a day.

But there came a time where I needed to actually slow down. And since I didn’t slow down on my own, my body did it for me. I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in early August, and had to take several months of rest from everything. It took a serious medical issue to get me to see the power of rest, but I would have never been able to reap the benefits of resting and recharging had it not happened.

So because of that, every 7th week I’ve adopted the concept of taking small scale sabbaticals.

Going hyper-speed; pulling long nights and early mornings; and grinding 12-18 hours a day is what we do as entrepreneurs. But it isn’t sustainable. You have to take a break.

“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.”

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

The Purpose

Rest brings clarity and focus.

It opens your mind to

  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Newer knowledge

So you can imagine what taking a small sabbatical every 7th week has done for myself and others who’ve adopted this concept from Sean McCabe of the seanwes podcast.

Sean and his team take a full paid sabbatical week every 7th week. Their output stops for an entire week (podcasts, blog posts, newsletters, videos, etc). Watching them do this for several months I caught onto two things:

  1. They were refreshed and recharged. This lead each of them to clarity, having more focus, and they were able to structure, organize, and plan for the next 7 weeks to come.
  2. Other areas of their lives were growing. Be it learning new information through a conference, writing music, a book, or simply being able to spend time with family.

Two Purposes For Sabbaticals

  1. Rest and recharge
  2. Pursue secondary passions

Like your phone, you need to recharge to get any use out of the body you demand so much out of.

And I don’t know about you, but when I’m hustling for my business, I’m having to turn a lot of things down that I really want to do in order to focus and not stretch myself thin.

Sabbaticals give me the opportunity to say yes to those other things I really want to do and rest at the same time.

Three Types of Sabbaticals

I can’t even lie.

Doing my first few sabbaticals I was all over the place. It was overwhelming. I had all of these free hours stacked and could do anything with them. But I found myself stressed out and frustrated, and that isn’t even the point of taking a sabbatical. So needless to say, focus is important when you’re resting too. It isn’t so much about the rest, it’s how you rest. Reintroducing Sean’s concept, there are three types of sabbaticals:

  1. Rest Sabbaticals
  2. Project Sabbaticals
  3. Travel Sabbaticals

Rest

Rest Sabbaticals
Netflix & Chill (or whatever you do watching Netflix) is completely permissible here. The purpose is to kick back and veg out. I normally keep a notepad and pen handy just in case something trickles through. You’d be surprised how many times that can happen when you aren’t thinking about it.

Project

Project Sabbaticals
This is where I can do other things that I’ve put off and said I’d “get to it” but never got to it. One weekend I took the time to invest in learning several pieces of software to automate and optimize my business. Another weekend I spent cleaning out my desktop and deleting dozens of files, pictures, and finally getting my files organized and structured.

Travel

Travel Sabbaticals
This is where you can travel to a different state, the mountains, the beach, or a conference. It’s getting completely away from your normal environment and going somewhere else to learn, network, or simply rest and treat it as a mini vacation.

This sounds good and all, but I can’t afford to take 7 days off.

Me either. But when that 7th week rolls around I’ll do one of three things:

  • Take the weekends off
  • Take evenings off
  • Take evenings and weekends off

It’s not a full week, but shutting down at 5 or 6 pm and taking the weekends off all in the same week really helps achieve the same results.

Well I can’t take the entire weekend either. And evenings are the only time I get to work on my business.

Schedule one evening during the weekend.

Or an evening during the weekday.

Scheduling one of these every 7th week (or whatever your frequency needs to be) won’t kill your business. You’re resting just not to rest. You’re resting so you can get back to work with more clarity and focus.

So how do we start planning our sabbaticals?

Schedule

You need to schedule your sabbatical.

I’m a member of the same Community as Sean and his staff, so I enjoy taking my evenings and weekend-long sabbatical with them. Find a frequency that works for you and your business.

Frequency

Again, you may not be able to take an entire week, but you can schedule your sabbatical to be:

  • An evening
  • A morning
  • An afternoon
  • A day
  • 2 days (or however many amount of days)
  • A weekend
  • 1 week
  • 1 month
  • Several months
  • A year

Regardless of how you do it, it needs to be scheduled. Scheduling makes it tangible and it’s your way of knowing there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Have An Idea Of What You Want to Do

You have three options:

  • Get rest
  • Pursue a secondary passion/project
  • Travel

Boom.

It’s your sabbatical. Go into it having an idea of what you want to do. If those plans change, just go with the flow. On Sean’s travel sabbatical, he intended to do a lot of writing and reading, but ended up just resting and creating music. Even with his change of plans, something great still came out of it.

Needless to say, enjoy the holidays

Christmas and New Years are upon us. Take the time to rest. Let these next two weekends, the weeknights, or the entire two weeks become your sabbatical and embrace the idea of resting and recharging. It’s an opportune time for you to also start planning and strategizing for 2016.

If you want to see the results of my own sabbatical, read more about it here.

And with that, this will be the last Geeky Dreamer blog of 2015. It’s been a pleasure creating these for you and I’m looking forward to what’s to come in 2016.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Years!

-Ed