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Every 7th week, I stop working for a week. I don’t make videos, podcasts, or publish new posts. My output goes on hold.
I work really hard for 6 weeks and then I take the entire 7th week off—not only that but I also pay my employees to take off every 7th week.
They’re no longer limited to a week or two of summer vacation, no more to just a few days in the summer to regain their sanity, but now they get an entire week off every 7 weeks.
I’m an all-on or all-off kind of guy. Working 18-hour days is normal for me. I like my work and I like working hard. But what I realized was I was heading towards burnout. As much as people like to joke, I’m not a robot and 18-hour days aren’t sustainable forever.
Maybe you’ve heard of people taking a year off every seventh year. A sabbatical, they call it. Most of us also take a day off every 7 days. But what I wondered, was why we don’t have something in between there. Why don’t we have a Small Scale Sabbatical?
Rest & Secondary Passions
My idea for purpose of the sabbatical is two-fold:
- Rest and recharge.
- Pursue secondary passions.
In order to be successful at something, you need to focus on it. Focus means saying no to other things. When I’m focusing on my work, I’m saying no to a lot of other things that I enjoy doing. The sabbatical is a time where I give myself permission to pursue those secondary passions—things like composing music or creating art.
Taking Off Every 7th Week
In September of 2014, I decided to try my idea: I was going to take off every 7th week. The first time was easy. It was actually fun. It felt like a vacation.
But the second sabbatical was much more difficult. “I don’t have time for this,” I thought. There was simply too much work to be done. There’s always too much work to be done.
Then I realized: there’s always work to be done. There will never not be work to do. Does that mean I should never rest? I decided to take my second sabbatical. That was the last time I ever hesitated.
The New Normal
The most common response I get to Small Scale Sabbaticals is someone saying, “I wish I could afford to do that.” The way I like to explain it is to imagine if your week was: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday… Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—and it just repeatedly like that indefinitely!
No weekends, no light at the end of the tunnel, no checkpoint, no milestone. You can’t imagine your life without weekends. That’s exactly what the sabbatical is like.
You get to a point where you wonder how you ever went without it—just as if your weekends were suddenly gone. “How in the world did I ever work for more than 6 weeks at a time with no light at the end of the tunnel and no coming up for air? How can anyone in the world believe that’s sustainable?”
It’s not that you can’t afford to take a sabbatical.
You can’t afford not to practice Small Scale Sabbaticals.
Paying Employees to Take 7th Weeks Off
A year ago when I started doing Small Scale Sabbaticals, it was just me. I didn’t have any employees. Now there are 7 of us on the seanwes team.
When I first started hiring, I wondered how I would make sure they had work to do while I was on my sabbatical. I stopped myself. Do I believe in this concept or do I not? Do I believe that we are more productive with time off or do I not?
I decided to pay everyone to take off every 7th week. Everyone on the team has a sabbatical week at the same time. It’s become the heartbeat of the company.
It’s not just that we make up for the week off during our other 6 weeks of work—it’s that we’re even more productive than had we not taken off time.
Three Kinds of Sabbaticals
The purpose of a sabbatical is rest and pursuit of secondary passions. What I’ve found after a year of doing Small Scale Sabbaticals is that this has expanded to three kinds of sabbaticals:
- Rest Sabbaticals
- Project Sabbaticals
- Travel Sabbaticals
Whenever a new employee joins the team, their first sabbatical is always overwhelming. On the one hand, they’re looking forward to the chance to take a break, but on the other hand they’re super excited about all the possibilities of what they can do.
Typically they’ll go take a trip and travel somewhere they don’t get the chance to go. Other times, they’ll try to tackle a project or make something. But in either of those cases, you’re not getting a ton of actual rest. In the beginning, you feel like there’s never going to be enough time to pursue all of the creative things and projects you want to do.
For me, I’ve noticed that I tend to settled into somewhat of a cycle where I rotate between three kinds of sabbaticals. We don’t always travel on sabbatical. Sometimes we just stay home and enjoy the restful week off. Other times it’s dedicated to completing a specific project that we’d otherwise never have time to do.
All Output Stops for a Week
The most important thing is that the output for seanwes stops during a sabbatical week. The reason I do this is to let it serve as a reminder to you, the audience, that I am taking a break. My hope is that when you see that we’ve stopped publishing content for one week that you will be reminded of the importance of the break.
I am personally creating between one and two dozen pieces of content every single week. There’s also all of the podcasts on the seanwes network. All of this stops. The creation stops and the output stops.
The week after this video is a sabbatical week. You won’t see any new videos from me during this time. What’s been so cool and rewarding after doing Small Scale Sabbaticals for over a year now is seeing other people also start taking a sabbatical week and aligning it with our sabbaticals here.
Of course what never stops is the Community. We’ll often engage with the members there during the sabbatical and share what’s going on or what we’re working on. Sometimes I do exclusive sabbatical live streams that are more laid back and conversational. So if you’re going through withdrawals with the show being gone, we’d love to have you there.
I’ll talk to you next week!