I Took a Work Sabbatical: Here's What Happened

A few months back, I had this crazy idea to take a work sabbatical. 

I was feeling burnt out, uninspired and a little lackluster about the direction of my business. I knew I needed to take a break and recharge my batteries.

I asked a few friends about taking a break from work and they didn’t understand it. I think that’s true with most people. We live in a “hustle” culture, especially us entrepreneurs, that doesn’t align with taking a break to recharge the battery. We are told to work and work until you reach your goal. 

But, our goals are always being revamped and pushed farther away. So, when are we supposed to take a break? How are we supposed to show up and serve well if we’re running on Empty?

Like a good blogger I went looking for information from other bloggers who had taken a work sabbatical and the only blog posts I could find had to do with maternity leave. 

I was shocked that the only acceptable break we could take had to do with one of the most significant life changes a person can go through.

I decided right there that I was going to take a break, figure out my own plan and share it here with all of you.

It didn’t go as planned and it was definitely a trial and error experiment, but today I’m going to share with you what I did to prepare, what worked (and what didn’t) and what I did with my time away from my business. 

Let’s get into it. 

I Took a Work Sabbatical: Here's What Happened | I'm sharing how I was able to take time off from my business as a freelance brand designer. Read all about it at www.jordanprindledesigns.com #freelance #smallbusiness #businesstips

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The Plan

The first thing I did was research how to take a break from my business. There was limited to no information, so I had to make it up for myself. 

I knew I couldn’t completely step off the grid and honestly I was afraid to go completely dark. Hello hustle mentality creeping back in. 

I kept thinking things like:

  • “But, I’ll lose momentum in my business if I completely step away.”

  • “People will forget I exist and I’ll have to start over from scratch.”

  • “Will I be able to find clients when I do come back?”

These questions have more to do with my unfortunate scarcity mindset than any actual business strategy, fact-based information, but nonetheless I knew I couldn’t completely shut off and shut down. That would only cause more stress, which is what I was trying to get away from.

So, I devised a plan. 

First, I looked through every aspect of my business and had to decide what could come to a complete stop, what could be downsized and what needed to keep going. 

This will look different for every business owner, but for me it looked like this. 

COMPLETE STOP

The first thing I knew had to go was client work. 

This was a scary decision to make, but I knew that while Joey and I worked on renovating our home (follow along with that on Instagram), I wouldn’t be able to properly serve my clients or myself. 

I decided to put a disclaimer on my contact form that said I was booking clients for September and made myself stick to it. It was really hard not to jump at opportunities, especially in the middle of an expensive home renovation project, but I kept going back to the fact that I would be under-serving everyone in that situation; the client, myself and my husband. 

The second thing I examined was the blog.

Since launching Jordan Prindle Designs, I have written well over 175 blog posts. I first started this business by blogging five days a week and have slowly turned down the heat to only blogging twice a week. 

But, in the middle of my burnout season, I couldn’t write a single thing. I didn’t know where to even start writing a blog post and it was painful to write anything. I knew that I had to stop blogging completely, so I could return refreshed and inspired. 

I want this blog to be a wealth of useful and actionable information and forced, filler content isn’t going to meet those standards. 

Not blogging was scary though, because it is how I promote my business and fuels my social media marketing. I was afraid no one would come visit my website if I didn’t product new content, luckily that didn’t happen.

DOWNSIZED

The first thing I looked at was Instagram. 

Instagram is a big tool for my business, but it is also one of the most detrimental aspects to my personal wellbeing. 

I am a huge comparison junky and Instagram is my drug of choice.

I knew I wanted to completely shut Instagram down, but was too nervous to go completely dark. So, I decided to play it fast and loose with my Instagram strategy and try to just have fun with Instagram again.

The second thing I examined was my Email

I knew I couldn’t just stop checking my email, but I knew I didn’t need to check and respond to every email the second it arrived in my inbox. 

I decided I would only check it during the week and only check it twice a day. 

KEPT GOING 

Lastly, I had to consider what needed to keep running in order to keep my business afloat. 

The first thing I knew I wanted to keep running was my Pinterest account. 

Once again, I am going to thank the Lord above for Tailwind. Tailwind allowed me to schedule my Pinterest out ahead of time, so I it could continue running even though I wasn’t actually pushing out any new content. 

Pinterest is the number one referral to my website and in order to keep my business running smoothly, I had to put some forethought into my Pinterest account.

Lastly, I kept emailing my list. 

My newsletter is quickly becoming my number one marketing priority. I battled fully investing in my newsletter for a long time, but now I am convinced. 

I spent a lot of time over my sabbatical refining my email marketing strategy, which I’ll go into more detail on later, but I knew if I was going to pour the energy into getting people on my list, I needed to continue emailing them. 

Although, my opt-in rate was down during the sabbatical, I was still growing my list and wanted people to know they weren’t joining a dead list. They were joining an educational and inspirational community of go-getters. 

 

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The Execution

I’ll start off with saying my execution was not perfect. 

I ended up jumping back from burnout a lot quicker than I had anticipated and took on a lot of internal business projects that I hadn’t expected to work on during this time-off season.


WHAT WORKED

I successfully scaled back on Instagram.

As I mentioned above, I wanted to throw out the Instagram rulebook and just use Instagram for fun again. 

I shared a lot about buying our house and shared behind the scenes of what renovation projects we were doing to the house. 

I also started creating graphics just for fun, which was such a fulfilling experiment for me as a creative. I enjoyed these graphics so much that I decided to share them online, even though they weren’t going to promote my services or attract clients, necessarily. 

I think forcing myself to create specifically for Instagram gave me design-paralysis that this experiment freed me from.

Additionally, I put a stronger emphasis on checking-in through stories rather than posts. It helped me create new ideas and feel like Instagram was a community again. 

I haven’t taken on any new clients.

I knew taking on no new clients would be difficult and I almost broke a few times, but I successfully put off the urge and haven’t worked with a single client during my time off.

I took a break from blogging. 

This one falls somewhere in the middle of working and not working. Although, I took a break from blogging it was short-lived. The reason I was able to start blogging five times a week when I first launched my business is that I really enjoy blogging. I love sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers, so I ended up blogging again in late July to prepare for August blog posts. 


WHAT DIDN’T WORK

I wasn’t perfect with my email. 

My email was checked less often, but still more frequently than I had intended. I am addicted to checking my email and responding quickly, so this is a habit I will have to continue to work on. 


Business projects

Additionally, I took on a lot of internal business projects that didn’t leave as much time for rest as I had hoped for. Although, these projects went against taking a break, they were very fulfilling and life-giving to work on, so I still count it a win. 

 

What I Did With My Sabbatical

I knew with my time off, there would still be work I wanted to get done. Both in my personal life and in my business. 

UP FIRST, WORKING ON OUR HOME RENOVATION

We bought a home that needed a good amount of TLC, so I spent a lot of my time at the house working on a projects, such as:

  • Tearing down walls

  • Replacing floors

  • Removing Popcorn ceilings

  • Fresh Paint

  • And so much more

Check out some of the behind-the-scenes on my Instagram Story title “Home Reno

I REBRANDED JPD

I have been desperate to give the JPD brand and website a rebrand since the day I launched it. I knew having no client work would give me the opportunity to pour my creative energy into my own business and I took full advantage. 

Read more on that here: THE PSYCHOLOGY AND METHODOLOGY BEHIND OUR REBRAND

ADDITIONALLY, I WORKED ON SOME INTERNAL PROJECTS

I can’t share all the details on what I’ve been working on behind the scenes just yet, but here are the cliff notes. 

  • Revamped my email marketing strategy.

  • Created a free Pinterest course.

  • Strategized the JPD Shop long-term game plan.

Tell me, have you ever taken a work sabbatical? Would you ever consider taking a work sabbatical?


Tell me about your thoughts on taking a break from work in the comments! I’d love to hear from you guys.