Help Dave Plan His Sabbatical

Hi Gang,

Now that I’ve committed to doing a sabbatical in July, I’ve got to figure out how to pull it off. Let me know what’s worked (and not worked) for you in terms of taking time off in this thread.


A good friend told me long ago that a reliable formula for retreat is: RED+RWR

Rest: Get a good night’s sleep. If you do not manage to do so, schedule a nap.

Exercise: Move your body throughout the day. Stretch, take a walk, dance to music, etc. Get outside.

Diet: Eat exceptionally well. This does not mean to eat lightly or to restrict, rather it means to nourish your body with foods that make it feel good, energetic, and grateful.

And then cycle through reading, writing, and reflection throughout your days.

I’ve followed these “rules” over the span of a single day and I’ve followed them on a three-month sabbatical and find they fit well within whatever space I carve out for them.


At various times I have put devices away in drawers or boxes, had someone trusted change certain passwords, and many years ago took a break by giving my LAN card to someone. For me, that’s the kind of thing that triggers a period of restoration.


Water: walking by a lake or beach, getting in some swimming, a teaspoon in a nice single-malt whisky.


Are you going somewhere offsite or staying home? The pandemic seems like a great time to do something like this now that I have more free time, but I was hoping to go somewhere quiet (no kids). I was thinking maybe go camp somewhere for a night or two.

Single Malt. Trust me on this :tumbler_glass:


Really??? A teaspoon of water???

Try a nice single-malt while sitting next to a fire… at a lake… as the sun is setting.
Personally, I would include a good cigar too. This is meditation moment!

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…on a beach on the Isle of Islay.


Yes, absolutely, very well known to open up the nose and flavor. You can try it yourself. Cook’s Illustrated ran a taste test that gave tasters increasing 1 tsp. increments of water per 1½-oz. sample of 80-proof whisky. Tasters were already able to discern more complex flavors and aromas after just 1 tsp., but most preferred the addition of 2 tsp. of water (which diluted the whisky to 65-proof, but also allowed them to appreciate the sweeter, fruity flavors in the liquor).

And always, always trust Ralfy:


I haven’t figured out what I’ll actually do during sabbatical week. I’ll be staying home (with the rest of my family) but I think I can socially distance some boogie boarding and hikes. The challenge right now is figuring out how to plan to be off the radar for a week. I’m writing a post about it now for Friday publication but handling customer support email and legal client urgent matters will be a challenge. Right now it is all about planning that stuff so I can actually disconnect. Historically, that has been difficult for me.


I posted this in the Focused episode 101 thread, but it’s also relevant here:

I really want to implore David to tell his clients beforehand that he’ll be inaccessible during his sabbatical week. That’s going to go over a lot better than if he has a client come to him with an “emergency” during that week and being surprised when David tells them he won’t get to the their urgent issue until the following week.

I think that the vast majority of his clients will understand, especially if David lets them know in advance. While there might be a few that aren’t understanding, one of the benefits of being a Free Agent is that you can choose who you decide to work for. David has already talked about how he’s selective about who he chooses to take on or continue as a client. Maybe going forward one of the criteria he uses to make those decisions needs to be “client is understanding about sabbaticals”.


I have a dropper and I add water by the drop. Usually one. Maybe two unless we’re talking cask strength. Now I want to go on sabbatical too

A week!? That’s called a short break from work. Not a sabbatical.

From The Sabbatical Guide:

A typical sabbatical lasts between 3 months and 1 year with an average length around 21 weeks. The most common sabbatical is around the 12 week mark, with the overall average pushed up by those taking a more traditional sabbatical year. How long you decide to take is determined by what you want to do and the policies at your current workplace.

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I fella has got to start somewhere


It is really hard to break away self identity things. Also, I’m hoping to make this an every 7 week thing. Pretty sure clients don’t want to hear that from me every 7 weeks.

I think you might be surprised.


First off I agree with @ChrisUpchurch be SURE to tell your clients you will be unavailable that week.

Then I’d work on the family. Can you at least carve out most of the day where you will isolate yourself in the MacSparky Cocoon of Solitude (no fortress being readily available) so you can do the things you are doing the mini-sabbatical for?

As to what to do. Personally I’d take a long hard look at where I am now. What am I doing that I love? What am I doing that I hate? Can I change any of that? if so how? Where I want to be in 1-3-5-10-20 years? What do I want the world to look like in 10-25-50-100-500 years from now? What do I consider most important for myself, my family, my community, my country and the world? I’d try writing my own obituary to focus on how I want to be remembered. I’d go through every idea and checklist I have on finding your purpose in life, your focus and anything else that interested me. Brainstorm and follow the rabbit trails that I identify and not worry about how to integrate it yet.

I’d also make time to just sit and read. I love to read and I typically read somewhere between 75-150 books a year. I’d love to knock off 8-10 more in a week just because I could.

I’d plan to have enough microwavable but healthy prepared food so that I wouldn’t have to spend any time doing basic cooking. So for a month or more I’d be making double batches of stuff and freezing it for use later. Sort of a mini version of what we do to get ready for lambing by having stuff we can eat quickly available at all times.

The nitty gritty is that I’d take my 3 panel white board and use it to play with the ideas and connections. Also pens, paper and my computers and iPad. Maybe my art stuff. I’d find a place to set it all up so I didn’t have to clean up at the end of the day. Take pictures of the white board if I run out of room or even buy some of the big poster size post-it note paper and tack it up everywhere.

Above all have fun.


To ease into it why not try for a slightly longer time between breaks? Maybe once a quarter? You can tell your clients you are doing a quarterly business review or something if you feel they need a more businessy reason for taking time off.

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FWIW I write into my proposal for services periods where I’m off (length of time and what season, rather than actual dates) – in my case sadly not for sabbaticals, but to preserve the ability to take vacations that are tied to the timetable of my kids’ school.

Of course clients don’t read/register these paragraphs, but it is something to point to when the discussion about upcoming breaks in the project flow.

+1 A “seven-day sabbatical every seventh week” policy, or 42 on/7 off.

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One week is hardly a sabbatical. I always took at least one two week vacation a year because it required that amount of time to really recharge. Almost always traveled on vacation because I like to find new experiences and cultures.

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