How to take a sabbatical from work with Jemma Neville

How to take a sabbatical from work might not be something that you thought was possible. You find yourself juggling your side hustle with the day to day work of your 9-5. I had the pleasure of chatting to author Jemma Neville about how she took a successful sabbatical from work to write her new book Constitution StreetHow to take a sabbatical from work

We often think that we have to ditch our day job permanently to finish the passion projects that we are working on. Whether that is a dream trip around the world, writing a book, or creating a project you have always wanted to work on. What if you could keep the security of your day job, and also finish your passion project? This is where sabbaticals come it.

This week’s podcast talks all about how Jemma finished her book and how she arranged a 9 month sabbatical from her job at Voluntary Arts Scotland.

A successful pitch is knowing when to ask for a sabbatical

Timing in life is everything! There is no point in asking for time off if you know that your work place is juggling a million projects, and there is no time to find someone to replace you. Think about when is a good time for not only you, but also the company.

Make sure you can pitch the benefits the company will receive if they give you the sabbatical. It can be things like a fresh perspective from the person who will be covering you, including new contacts and enthusiasm.

Set a specific time, something like the 9 months that Jemma took, as it neatly matches things like maternity leave, so your cover will be used to applying for jobs that are 9 months long.

Making the most of your sabbatical

It might seem obvious that you need to make the most of your sabbatical, but we can fall into the trap of believing that we have plenty of time. Jemma mentions doubling the amount of time that you think it will take to finish a project. This is so true for writing books, as you might have productive days when you get 2000 or more words done in a morning. Or else you have other days when you can’t write at all.

It is also important to create some sort of schedule (even if you don’t religiously stick to it) to track your progress. This allows you to take moments to celebrate how far you have come, and to work out (realistically) how you long you actually need to finish the project.

Support and conversations with other creatives are also important. If you are looking to take a sabbatical to write a book like Jemma, it is important to make time to check in with other creatives and get feedback, or support. Writing is a solitary profession, and although that might suit you, it is important not to write in isolation.

Be inspired! Visit galleries, take classes, read and absorb the world around you. Sabbaticals allow you to take a break from your every day routine. Although schedules are good to have in relation to the project you are working on, it is important to make time to step out of your ordinary routine for the time you have left. Change helps us to see the world with fresh eyes.

Other benefits

We forget that change can help us see our own neighbourhood with fresh eyes. It allows us to reconnect to our space, the people that we hang out with and align our goals. Just as Jemma used her own street as inspiration for her book, we can find inspiration on our door step. We don’t need to step onto aeroplanes to take a sabbatical. We can find new ways of seeing by stepping out of our normal routine.

You can order copies of Jemma Neville’s book from 404 Ink here: ORDER NOW

It gives you time to hit pause, re-evaluate what you want from your life and work. You sabbatical can also allow you to focus on the project you have been side hustling to finish. So often we forget that our routines can make us slaves to conformity. Try walking a different way to work, or getting our morning coffee from a different cafe, it can change so much.

Take time to look at your own routine, think about what a sabbatical would mean to you and how you would use that time. Then plan how you will pitch it to your boss, and choose the time to do the pitch wisely.

I have created a workbook for you to use to create your pitch and take your sabbatical. You can download it below. 

How to take a sabbatical from work

If you are thinking of taking your own sabbatical mentoring can help. I have a few slots left for this year. You can find out more about it here: MENTORING