Published 2 min read

Sabbatical Chronicles: How I Rediscovered Time Management

When taking a sabbatical I expected to get things done. Instead, I got a chance to reevaluate my approach to time management.
Sabbatical Chronicles: How I Rediscovered Time Management
Photo by Estée Janssens / Unsplash

Why I Decided to Take a Short Sabbatical

Though freelance is usually referred to as a relax-mode part-time way of doing a job, in my case it has always been full-time almost all the time and sometimes even worse than that.

I've been working rather hard without any breaks and got a little bit tired for the last three years. I took short vacations occasionally, but it has always been just a short breath between deep dives.

It was quite exhausting.

I Let My Work Take Over My Life

I'm rather bad at time management, multitasking, and the ability to switch between contexts.

As a result, I've collected an endless list of outstanding tasks related to my health, life in general, sports, relations, and housekeeping.

Broken car, all plans for side projects, my blog, and open-source crafts - everything got into a pending state in favor of work.

I Took a Sabbatical

When my later project was finalized, I decided not to look for another project immediately, but spend time having a proper rest first, then finish all outstanding tasks and only then get back to work, fully refreshed.

Initially, I planned to take a pause for something about 3 months, but it was so good that I prolonged it for a month more.

What was done:

  • Finally, I've managed to find time for ophthalmological research on my eyesight. Luckily it's not as bad as I used to think..
  • I've performed all repairs to my car. I've carried out maintenance work and repainted almost all the front of the car. All the small scratches are now defeated.
  • I've finally done with all the planned improvements and furnished my home office. Now it's an incredibly cozy and comfortable workspace.
  • I've had an amazing recovering two-week trip to Vienna, Austria.
  • I started to post here regularly (hopefully!).
  • I've managed to push forward my secret side project.
  • I've finally found time to put some effort into open-source crafts!

My Key Takeaway From Sabbatical Was a Boost in Time Management

Unexpectedly, it turned out that a sabbatical requires even more accurate planning and time management than my usual working schedule.

I had planned a ton of things beforehand and somewhere in the middle of my sabbatical I found myself in a common situation: things were not getting done as fast as expected.

The problem with a sabbatical is the absence of firm deadlines. If you don't have deadlines, Parkinson's law immediately kicks in. No matter what you do, it takes all the allocated time.

In order to fix that I even had to rethink the productivity tools and frameworks and start to deal with task and time management more systematically.

As a result, I organized all my notes, links, tasks, goals, and projects in a single place to be able to use them as a kind of personal dashboard - a control panel for my processes.

I've picked Notion, spent a couple of days setting up my notion-dashboard-super tool and now I use it almost every day.

Here is my tasks and project management template for Notion.