AVOIDING BURNOUT WITH SCHEDULED SABBATICALS

Preserving your ambitions by taking regular breaks

There are very few people that I know of who can work nonstop with little sleep and just keep going. Two of those people (who are also role models of mine) are Gary Vaynerchuck and Casey Neistat. If you don’t know about either of these two fantastic men, you need to look them up. I have never seen better examples of hard work in action than these two.

Now, if you aren’t superhuman like Casey or Gary, you probably have a limited amount of time before you burnout. You just need a break, or there are other things in life that need to get taken care of and you spend every waking moment working.

Let me introduce you to the idea of a sabbatical. I first learned this idea from Sean McCabe, the founder and leader of seanwes. I thought it was really interesting that he takes a certain time off of each day, week, and every seven weeks. Not only does he do it, but he has his employees do as well (and pays them to do it!).

In episode 72 of his podcast, he made some compelling arguments for taking the time off. So, I decided to try taking a week off back in late 2015 and I haven’t looked back since.

Protecting Your Passion and Avoiding Burnout

Of course it is important to work hard everyday toward your goal of being a better designer. The only way to improve is to continue working toward that goal every day you wake up.

Unfortunately, if you start to feel like you’re losing steam and motivation for what was once you passion, that means you’re quickly approaching burnout and you need to get away from it as soon as possible before you’re sick of it.

Having scheduled time off away from the hustle will help preserve that passion. When you feel refreshed after some time away, you’ll find that you’ll be ready to work again once your sabbatical is over.

It’s a great feeling when you’re in the middle of a scheduled sabbatical and all of the sudden the need to open up your sketchbook and start designing kicks in. But this is also the time you need to tell yourself “no.” As many times as you say no to other things so you can work on your passion. This time, it’s saying no to your passion to protect it.

I know it sounds funny, but in execution it makes sense.

Schedule It

The first thing to making to make this become part of your routine is to schedule it in your calendar. If you are used to working hard each and every day nonstop with only enough time off to sleep, you need to schedule your sabbatical and execute it.

Take a few hours off each day to read that interesting article you found online, or spend some time with the family.

Also, take one full day off each the week away from the routine hustle so you can take the family out to the park and enjoy a nice dinner with them, or just get some time to catch up on chores around the house.

Next is the big one: Take every seventh week off. This is going to provide you with quite a bit of time to either do something you have been saying no to, go on vacation, or just relax.

You Finally Get to Say “Yes”

It’s important that you work hard toward your passion and use every moment you have working toward your goal that also means saying “no” to the things that are going to take you away from that goal. You don’t go out to see the new movie in theaters, you aren’t parked in front of the TV to binge watch Netflix, and you aren’t spending your time on any hobbies.

That’s why you take these mini sabbaticals. This time off is the time when you have a chance to actually say “yes” to these things because you’re taking a step away from your passion.

I’ll be honest, it won’t be the easiest thing to do especially if you’re used to working so hard everyday toward your passion, but it’s totally worth it. Besides, if your drum set or keyboard that has been calling you out for neglect, you’ll probably be ready to play some music just for fun.

If you’re one to quickly get bored when you aren’t being productive, here are some things you could do:

  • Do something you had stopped doing when you decided to focus solely on your passion
    • Binge watch that show on Netflix
    • Play that new video game that came out
    • Finally go see the movie everyone was raving about
  • Learn a new skill
    • A new brush pen
    • Learn to code
    • You can even explore a different area of design that you don’t usually do
      • Web
      • Print
      • Poster
      • Screen printing
  • Go on a vacation
  • Build a bird house

Catch up on Some Much Needed Rest

If you’re like me, you don’t sleep much. You go to bed late and then wake up early just to have those extra hours own the day to work. But guess what? Your body needs time to rest.

It’s how you fight off being sick and it allows your body to heal. Use the sabbaticals to catch up on your sleep. Not only will it feel good, you’ll feel completely rejuvenated when you get back to work after a week off and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

Of course, your mind needs time away from the work as well. Without a break, you will start to get mentally fatigued from working so hard. You feel like you don’t have any more good ideas and everything starts to fall flat.

Giving yourself a mental vacation from designing logos will allow your brain to unwind and be ready to focus once you start designing again.

Productive Counterproductivity

This whole idea may sound crazy at first. Seriously, take a break from you passion when you should be spending every day and every waking moment of your life working toward it?
Yes.

Face it, there are times when there is something that needs to get done in life – such as taxes – that you put off not only because it’s a pain, but it isn’t working toward your passion. This is why you need to step away from your passion every once-and-a-while. You can get things done that you need to and you can get a relaxing break away from all of your hard work. Once your scheduled time off is up, you’ll be ready to start up again.

Don’t worry, you won’t forget how to design a logo after your break. You’ll just be itching to pick up that pen and sketchbook and go to town. Your passion will thank you for it in the long run because you didn’t exhaust yourself of what you truly care about.

Watch it in action

SH-Snapchat-Profile-01On that note, next week is going to be my sabbatical week.

Although I have been publishing posts to the blog every week since December 2015, I have been taking sabbatical weeks away from my logo design during that time. For the blog, I have built a margin that allows a new post to come out every week even though I didn’t write one that week (a topic for another day).

But here’s the reality: Even though I don’t write a post to publish that week, I still put time into sharing it across social media and getting the content public during that time off and I’m realizing I need to take time away from this as well. So, I need to live what I teach, and thus, I am going to take the whole week off from all work.

Of course, you can find me on Twitter and Snapchat sharing things occasionally, so be sure to follow me on those platforms (@scotthofford).

Otherwise, I’ll see you in two weeks!

Do you have trouble getting away from work? It’s definitely been a challenge for me until I started scheduling these sabbaticals.

Let me know what the biggest challenge you face when it comes to taking scheduled time off.

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