The micro sabbatical – a sabbatical in short form?

One of the amazing rewards that Automattic gives to its employees is a 3 month, fully paid, sabbatical every 5 years. But it got me thinking… would there be a benefit in a more regular “micro sabbatical”?

I’ve got another 3.5 years until I get my first sabbatical but it’s one I certainly intend to be around for (and many others, I hope). As colleagues go off and come back from theirs, they often post about their plans and their achievements. Those that I really like I note – yes, I’m already coming up with ideas for my own.

Most can be boiled down to a few elements…

  1. Spending more time with family
  2. Get jobs done around the house
  3. Getting fit
  4. Doing something they’ve always wanted to but never had the time to do – writing a book, for example
  5. Travelling

Now, last year, I don’t take much vacation time (it’s referred to as “AFK” at Automattic and this covers off all time, including sickness, statutory holidays, etc). And when I did, it was with family. But I’m a big believer that you sometimes need time for yourself so, this year, intend to take a week off when my wife and daughter are at school. And it occurred to me, I could do a much smaller sabbatical (or rather, the things that people do during theirs).

Some of these won’t work – I’m not going to get into a fitness regime within a week, nor am I going to have time for extensive travelling. But, spending some more time with family, getting jobs done around the home, etc, are all achievable during a week. So, my plan is to take a week off later in the year (when everyone is back at school, AFK within the team is at a minimum and the weather in the UK is cooler) and do the following…

  1. Cancel the child minder for the week and take my youngest daughter to school and pick her up each day
  2. Visit my eldest daughter in Gloucester for a day (will do one weekend)
  3. Make a list of jobs that have needed doing for a while and I’ve not done (I use Todoist and have an extensive list)
  4. Write some more. Either do some bigger pieces for Big Tech Question or start a book that I’ve had an idea for. A week isn’t long enough to write it, but it’s certainly enough to plan it and start it off. My hope is that it will get far enough to provoke me into continuing it  in my spare time, after my AFK.
  5. Visit the place I was born and grew up – will probably need 2 days so will do it one weekend. I don’t think would be very exciting for anybody other than me, so is a lone project!

Time off for yourself, assuming you can do it, is extremely healthy for your mind, far more than for your body. Whereas a family vacation can leave you no more relaxed, this is “me time”, where you can unwind and fulfil a few self-promises.

I’ll let you know how I get on with this year’s and, if a success, I’ll plan for another one next year.


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