The Burnout Antidote: A Creative Sabbatical

October 21, 2009

The Don Draper thousand-yard stare In an early episode of the excellent TV series Mad Men, agency partner Roger Sterling walks into creative director Don Draper's office to find Don gazing off into space.

"I'll never get used to the fact that most of the time it looks like you're doing nothing," Sterling quips.

Sterling should take comfort in the fact that our best creative work is done in times of reflection and idleness. Studies have shown that the wandering mind is more likely to have a "Eureka!" moment of clarity and creativity. Taking breaks and zoning out from everyday tasks gives our brains time to do a kind of long-term, big-picture thinking that immediate engagement with bosses and clients and email and meetings does not.

Designer Stefan Sagmeister takes these findings seriously. He works time off into his schedule in a way that will make you green with envy. Every seven years, Sagmeister closes his New York City–based design studio for an entire year of creative rejuvenation. During his sabbatical, Sagmeister "works," but not for clients. (He's serious about that, too. Last year, he turned down an opportunity to design a poster for the Obama campaign while he was on sabbatical.)

Read the rest at HarvardBusiness.org »

I just found out about this book called Glimmer, all about design and problem-solving.

There’s also a blog, and I just started reading it yesterday. Something I saw there really applies to this:
In a world of distraction, here’s how and why to find your focus, and I actually thought it was going to be one of the things you linked to.

Since it wasn’t, I thought you might like to read it.

Giannicolus Jones [+2]
Oct 21 09 at 9:35 am

If this was a financial antidote as well, I would consider this too. But taking a year off… I was sh*tting my pants when I was without a job for six months when moving from Germany to Brazil.
But daydreaming certainly will give you the best ideas and new perspectives on things.

Seven years seems to be the standard practice for academic sabbaticals but I think these days with more people staying in one job for less time, the ideal sabbatical would be shorter but more frequent. I think the ideal sabbatical would be 3 months every 2 years.

Catherine
Oct 28 09 at 10:50 pm


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