Taking breaks and zoning out from everyday tasks lets our brains do long-term, big-picture thinking that immediate engagement with bosses, email and meetings does not. You don't need a week or month off, either — just commitment to being uncommitted.
In an early episode of the excellent TV series Mad Men, agency partner Roger Sterling walks into creative director Don Draper's office to find Don gazing off into space.
"I'll never get used to the fact that most of the time it looks like you're doing nothing," Sterling quips.
Sterling should take comfort in the fact that our best creative work is done in times of reflection and idleness. Studies have shown that the wandering mind is more likely to have a "Eureka!" moment of clarity and creativity.
Designer Stefan Sagmeister takes these findings seriously. He works time off into his schedule in a way that will make you green with envy. Every seven years, Sagmeister closes his New York City–based design studio for an entire year of creative rejuvenation. During his sabbatical, Sagmeister "works", but not for clients. (He's serious about that, too. Last year, he turned down an opportunity to design a poster for the Obama campaign while he was on sabbatical.)
Read the rest of Gina's take on creative sabbaticals, and how you can work them into your work life without taking a year off, at HarvardBusiness.org.
Burned Out? Take a Creative Sabbatical [HarvardBusiness.org via Smarterware]