If you ever feel like you’re experiencing creative roadblocks or that you’re about to burn out, it’s probably time to take a sabbatical.
What’s a sabbatical?
Sabbaticals are mini-vacations from your work, which are meant to act as a detox from your daily routine so that you can recharge and get back to work better than before.
This is something Bill Gates famously likes to do.
Since the early 1980’s, Bill Gates has gone into seclusion for two weeks at a time each year, which he likes to call “Think Weeks.”
During these sabbaticals, Gates spends the majority of his time just reading and thinking.
Many innovations and insights at Microsoft have had their origin at these Think Weeks.
Similarly, Stefan Sagmeister swears by the power of the sabbatical.
In the book “Show Your Work,” best selling author and creative Austin Kleon says,
“The designer Stefan Sagmeister swears by the power of the sabbatical – every seven years, he shuts down his studio and takes a year off [to rejuvenate and refresh his creative outlook.] His thinking is that we dedicate the first 25 years or so of our lives to learning, the next 40 to work, and the last 15 to retirement, so why not take 5 years off retirement and use them to break up the work years? He says the sabbatical has turned out to be invaluable to his work: “Everything that we designed in the seven years following the first sabbatical had it’s roots in thinking done during that sabbatical.”
Bill Gates and Stefan Sagmeister are only two among thousands of successful entrepreneurs, creatives and VCs who rely on sabbaticals for creativity.
Unfortunately for us, the reality is that most of us just don’t have the flexibility in our lives to be able to walk away from our work for a full year like Sagmeister or two weeks like Bill Gates.
Thankfully, we can all take practical sabbaticals where we walk away from our work completely for a few hours to a few days at a time.
Doing this is a great way to help you cultivate new ideas, to help you experience fewer creative blocks, and to help you keep going so you never feel like you’re going to burn out.