Preparing for a Sabbatical

In this week’s episode of Focused, I committed to Sean McCabe to take an entire week on sabbatical in July. For years I have been trying to figure out how to take time off. Last year I rented a cabin in the mountains for a few days with the idea of taking a short sabbatical, but just days in advance, I canceled … because I am a coward and afraid not to answer the phone for clients.

As I said in the show, I firmly believe that downtime is critical on several levels. With downtime, your brain can bring those things lurking in the background to the foreground. This is where you may identify problems or new opportunities. It is also where you may get to relax or do something different and recharge.

The problem is that I have never been able to practice what I preach. That is what led me to commit, on-air, to Sean. I figured that is the only way I would make that happen.

We recorded that episode a few weeks ago, and now July 13 is looming on my calendar. It is time to plan for my first sabbatical. I’m not talking about planning on what I will do during the sabbatical, but just how I will get to that week and feel comfortable taking a week off. It’s a lot harder to cancel at the last moment since I’ve made this a thing now.

So now I am planning my first sabbatical. I want to succeed at this, so I’m spending some time trying to set myself up for success. Here is the plan so far:

The Podcasts

I’ve already moved recording dates and traded with some co-hosts on post-production tasks, so I’ll have no podcasting duties during my sabbatical week. That was easy enough.

The Blog

Likewise, I am working on some timeless-style posts that I will have in the can. Tumbleweeds will not be rolling through during my week off. I considered bringing in a guest host for the website as some bloggers do, but that felt more complicated than I needed, at least for this first go around. If I had done it, I would find myself wondering what he/she is posting and not relaxing.

Field Guide Production

Again, this is not so difficult to plan around. I am turning up the dial a bit during June and early July so I can feel I’m in a good place when I set down the microphone for a week. This may delay the next release slightly, but it’s an easy price to pay.

Customer Support

This is where things start getting harder. I do have someone that helps with common customer support email questions. My workflow has always been that the emails come to me, and I forward them to my helper along with thoughts and instructions. Ideally, I’d like to not be in that loop for the week of my sabbatical. One solution would be to turn my MacSparky email over to my assistant, but I find that extremely difficult. I’m struggling right now to figure out why I am so disinclined to do that. I trust this person, and yet I feel like my email should be my problem.

In the meantime, I am experimenting with some automations to auto-forward certain types of emails to her. If that doesn’t work, I may end up turning over the email to her, but I’m incredibly hesitant to do that.

Legal Clients

This is the most difficult challenge of a sabbatical for me. Every week, I have some legal clients that come up with problems that need immediate help. It will be tough for me to say no to that. Likewise, offloading legal email isn’t even an option since that email is subject to the attorney-client privilege. I think, ultimately, for me, a sabbatical will necessarily include keeping up with legal email and perhaps even doing some legal work. The trick will be determining what work is urgent enough to justify breaking the sabbatical and what is not. In reality, there really shouldn’t be much work that urgent, but I am inclined to make all client work urgent. At the same time, nearly all of my clients are very understanding when I tell them I’ll be doing their work a bit later for one reason or another, and I think they would have no problem with me delaying a few days if something truly is not urgent.

Between now and July 13, I plan to write out something for sabbatical-me giving strict instructions about what constitutes sabbatical-breaking legal work. I’m not sure what that is going to say yet, but I will figure it out.

The Rest

I also intend to do a deep dive on Sean’s website for further advice. Finally, I have to prepare my family for the sabbatical week since they will all most likely be home with me. I have also started a forum thread where listeners are sharing their sabbatical success (and failure) stories.

I’m looking forward to this sabbatical experiment, but before I can pull it off, I’ve got my work cut out for me.