Taking time off work to do work

I took the past two weeks off work as an experiment, a “mini sabbatical” to do some focused work on creative projects.

As my vacation time approached, people would ask me what my goals were, what I hoped to accomplish. My (somewhat) surprising answer was that I didn’t have any specific goals. I wanted to focus on putting the time in and seeing what would happen, without worrying about what the actual output would be.

So how did it go? Overall, really well (despite the fact the four out of the ten days were snow days, so the kids were home from school).

Here are some of the things I worked on…

Practicing piano — This is something I’ve done less of lately as I’ve been playing more ukulele. But the piano is still where I’m most comfortable, and I’ve gotten a little rusty.

Recording — Exploring some new recording techniques — especially related to percussion.

Production/Arranging — Arranging and recording parts for songs that Kate and I had already finished.

Experimenting — Creating some “sketch” recordings of different musical grooves and ideas, and playing with some new iPad apps.

Writing — Writing new songs (with a focus on words over music), and trying to flesh out some fragment ideas I’ve had for a long time.

So what do I have to show for all this time? As of right now, nothing — at least nothing that’s ready to share. But that doesn’t mean the time was wasted. I’ve built up a backlog of work in progress that will emerge into the world over the coming weeks and months, and I’ve proven to myself that I’m capable of treating creative work like “real” work.

Taking dedicated time like this isn’t sustainable (unless somebody out there wants to pay me to sit around and play music). It doesn’t solve the ongoing problem of carving out time and energy from a normally busy schedule. But I found it to be valuable and energizing, and I can’t wait to share some of what I’m working on.

Tagged with: thoughts