My company doesn't have sabbaticals per se any more, but they do allow people to take extended unpaid leave, with the permission of relevant manager-types.
Back in 2010, after I'd been working there for six years, I took a two-month personal leave. I didn't manage to do everything I wanted to, but it was definitely nice to have some time away from work.
In early 2014, I made plans to do that again later in the year. But in mid-2014, my teammate, Sara, died. We had been a two-person group (well, two of us regular employees, plus a couple of excellent contractors at various times), and there wasn't anyone else to do the work if I took a significant chunk of time off.
So for the past year and a half or so, one of my goals has been to build a team at work who could handle things while I was gone for an extended period.
We had finally reached the verge of being in that state around the start of this year, but then a reorg came along that wiped out most of my plans. But we had already brought some new contractors onboard by then, and I think that they've now reached the point where they can do most of what needs to be done. And the things they don't know how to do can wait a while.
So I'm taking the summer off. Three months of unpaid leave, during which time I have no work responsibilities.
So what am I going to do this summer?
Well, I figure I'll spend three months visiting far-off friends, three months being a tourist, three months relaxing at home, three months reading, three months writing, three months watching movies and TV, and three months working on various projects.
(Last time I took significant time off from work, it was only two months, and I tried to do two months' worth of all those things during that time. I failed, of course, but surely if I add a month to the time off and a month to each of the things I want to do, that should make it feasible, right?)
I've been making that joke for months, but didn't actually try writing down specific major items I want to do until a couple weeks ago. Here's the current draft of the list:
- Two Chicago trips, one in early July and one in late September/early October. (Seeing Hamilton during the second one.)
- A Louisville trip.
- Decide on a username for Pokemon Go.
- A brief Santa Fe trip.
- A two-week Boston trip.
- An LA trip.
- A Seattle trip.
- Possibly a UK trip.
- Move forward with Constellation Press.
- Finish writing novel and send it to agents.
- Write and submit at least one short story.
- Finish my photo-digitizing project.
- Read or at least skim the Hugo nominees, and vote.
- Make progress reading my unread books and comics.
- Finish and post several big-topic long-delayed blog entries.
- Sort through old papers.
- Redesign my kith.org site.
- Deal with some blog technical issues, like the commenting-signin problem.
- Learn enough about various technologies (such as Yii and WordPress and jQuery and Angular) to make it easier for me to launch web projects when I want to.
- Fix some issues with the SH fiction database.
- Make progress on some plans related to Mary Anne's site.
- Spend time with local friends who I don't see often enough.
- Clean up my room.
- Close a whole bunch of browser tabs.
- Start tracking my finances better.
- Get some sleep.
I imagine there's a fair bit of that I won't get done. For example, I think I'll probably give up on the tourism stuff. I had originally planned to go to Barcelona with Kam and her family in July, but I realized that although I would enjoy seeing the Sagrada Familia, I was feeling stressed by figuring out how to fit that in with other things, and by my lack of knowledge of Spanish. So I decided to skip that. And given that I'm skipping that, the possible UK trip doesn't make much sense; I just went last year, and it would eat up a big chunk of time. But I really enjoyed my trip last year, and I would like to re-visit most of the places I visited, plus a few others I didn't have time for. And several of my friends have been posting about UK trips this summer, which keeps making me want to go back. But I suspect I would enjoy that at least as much if I wait a couple years.
Even without tourism, it'll be a fair bit of travel, and a lot of stuff to pack into three months. I have thirteen weeks total; my leave officially started last Wednesday or Thursday, so I've spent almost a week of it so far. (I ended up spending much of Wednesday resolving the last administrative stuff I needed to do before going on leave; I'm gonna ask if I can change to officially having started on Thursday.) And of course I could easily spend the next twelve weeks doing nothing but Facebook if I'm not careful. But it's really nice to have no work concerns for a while, and I do want to be sure to spend some time just relaxing.