Here are six micro-sabbatical ideas that can serve you well, without costing you your job.
Take a day off. How about an entire day just for You-Time! And, really, who’s stopping you? Most of our vacation days get sucked up with family-time or household errands. Instead, plan out a day of nothing but fun. Indulge in your creative hobby, or dabble in something new that you’ve always wondered about. It might circuitously lead to your next great idea at work.Early in my ministry, I considered it praiseworthy to not take a day off each week. It meant I was a hard worker, devoted, diligent, etc. But it was stupid. I quickly learned how crucial a day off was, and these days don't know how I would survive without it. In between days off, though, a busy pastor (a phrase which Eugene Peterson claims should be counted an insult; I agree) should still find ways to breathe and re-charge. It's about survival. About effectiveness. About trust in God (no pastor is indispensable....and we become MUCH MORE dispensable if we think we are!). So leave God in charge for a short time, at least, and see how he dies while you take care of the temple that is your body.
Schedule time for nothing. Wouldn’t it be great if you saw that your next appointment was a “Chill Sesh?” Blocking out time to let your mind wander may ironically lead you to connecting some dots that were missed in the harried activity of the day. You are more likely to have that moment of clarity when your brain is off the hook from meetings, emails and telephone calls. Use the time to take a walk, slip on the i-pod headphones, or just shut your eyes for a few minutes.
Start a practice of daily meditation. You will become much more productive when you start your day with a sense of focused calm. Spending 30 minutes in the quiet of mindful thought can ease your anxiety, reduce stress, and open the mental windows to higher spiritual thoughts. Don’t expect meditation to be easy. It’s a discipline that requires practice, patience and silence. But the lift you receive may turn out to be the daily sabbatical space that you can not live without.
Retreat to nature. A few days secluded in the wilderness can provide the ideal escape from the grind to reflect on life in a completely relaxed, unstructured setting. For many, the wide open space of mountains, forest or sea can bring a much-needed respite from the clash and clang of suburban life, providing a fresh perspective that is impossible to capture in the office. Bring some inspirational books, and write in your journal. I dare you to go all by yourself, and see what happens.
Get physical. The circulation of your blood and muscles might be just the thing to get your mind disengaged, in order to re-engage. Some of my best ideas have come while on the treadmill in the middle of the work day. Why? Because the intense physical workout takes the focus off of work,and puts me into another rhythm altogether. Brisk exercise is a great way to break up the pace of the day and trick your mind into problem-solving mode.
Take in a seminar. Although many companies are cutting back on “non-essential” travel expenses such as professional education, there are still plenty of opportunities to get out of the office and learn something new. There are excellent seminars offered right in your back yard through local chapters of national organizations. I have even found some for free. Don’t underestimate the value of getting out from the familiar setting to network with some new folks and hear an enlightening speaker. And while you’re sitting there, don’t be afraid to daydream. It may turn out to be the smartest thing you’ve done all year.