September 10, 2009
I badly needed time off in 2006. I had not taken more than a week and a half off at a time in over 20 years. I took my first “minisabbatical” by scheduling a month of vacation time, using some carryover days, and renting a house in Umbria, Italy.
I was CEO of a financial services consortium and had a very demanding schedule, but by planning ahead, delegating to staff and setting expectations with members, I was able to take the time off and leave behind work.
I started planning six months in advance and prepared staff for taking over many of my responsibilities. I scheduled important meetings before and after the timeframe. I delegated critical decisions to one staff member and empowered her to act on my behalf. I told everyone I would not be taking my laptop with me and might only check the Blackberry once a week, if that. I gave them a phone number to reach me, but with the admonition “only in an emergency”.
I spent a terrific month with friends staying at a lovely home in the countryside outside Perugia. We toured nearby hill towns on daytrips, had long lunches at excellent restaurants, bought fresh food everyday and cooked at night, and found time to hike, paint, read, write, tour and just “be”. I checked emails only two or three times during the trip and never received one “emergency” call.
I went back to work refreshed and renewed. My staff did a terrific job and I found the empowerment was a great gift to them as well as me. It changed the way I managed and gave me the belief I could take a longer sabbatical, which I did a few years later, for eight months.
This one-month mini-sabbatical worked because I “disconnected” from work, my house projects, my family obligations, and my routine to give myself the “gift of time”.
You can do it too!