If I could write out a word that could describe a really big optimistic exhale without writing SIIIIIIGGGGHHHHH, I would. Unfortunately, I haven’t coined a term that matches that sound, but it still rings true to how I feel: bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to take on the world! After two and a half months since the announcement of my sabbatical, I'm ready to get back into the throws of this KDL solopreneurship journey.
Yet, even with two and a half months, I don't feel as rested or refreshed as I would've liked. Here’s what I would’ve done differently to take a better break:
Prepared for my leave earlier
In fairness to my particular situation, I made this decision relatively last minute. It wasn’t until the end of November that I made a concrete decision to take a leave of absence. That said, I think a decent rule of thumb is to aim to prepare for a leave at least 1.5x the length of the leave. (Two times would be even better if you could!) For example, if your leave is a month, start preparing at least one month and a half in advance. In my case, my break was very long, so almost four months of preparing may not be realistic. Nevertheless, giving yourself ample amount of time to get social media posts up and scheduled, answer any client questions and brief clients on what they need to know as well as set your internal website, social media and email list up for success requires time while you're still managing what's happening in the present. If I had had more time to prepare, I wouldn't have been working on KDL stuff a month into my sabbatical.
Left my home—both house and city
It's hard to take a break when there are dishes in the sink to clean, clothes to wash, and your mom keeps calling and asking questions about how to update her Facebook page. Leaving your home allows you to leave behind all the responsibilities that home brings and truly sit back and relax. Staying home and in Jacksonville for nearly the entirety of my time off made it incredibly difficult to relax at any point because duty was always calling.
Put my phone somewhere far, far away
I almost wish that I would have thrown my phone into the ocean. Taking a social media break should've been the least of how I separated myself from my phone. With your phone on you, it's nearly impossible not to ever check your email, texts, Instagram, anything, and if you're constantly checking your phone, how does that constitute as taking a break? Let me tell you: it doesn't.
If possible, delete the apps that are always sending those notifications or the ones that you scroll on for hours at night when you're supposed to be sleeping. If that feels too hard, turn off the notifications for all of the apps that vie for your attention, or put your phone in one of those phone lock boxes for a few hours a day if you have to. You deserve to answer to no one and nothing—not even a notification from your cell phone—while you're taking a break—a well deserved break that you are designating for yourself.
I am so grateful for the time I had off! I know that so many are not afforded time like that to step away from their jobs or ventures, and for the first time in over five years, I was able to do it! And I'm always on a mission to learn what I can do better. How to take a better break included.