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How To Take Time Off (A Sabbatical) As An Accidental Entrepreneur

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

So, picture this: you're on a sunny beach, toes buried in the warm sand, a refreshing drink in one hand, and the melodious sound of waves in the background. Sounds like the perfect dream, right?

But wait, you're not on vacation; you're an entrepreneur! Can you really take time off and still grow your business?


In this article, we'll dive into the art of business planning for the accidental entrepreneur, with a twist of taking some much-needed time off in a way that doesn't always require taking a long stretch of time off and going on a vacation.

My guest, Alyson Caffrey, has redefined what it means to take a sabbatical and provide valuable insights for small business owners. Alyson, the author of "The Sabbatical Method," challenges the traditional perceptions of sabbaticals and emphasizes the importance of rest for high performance. We'll dive deep into the concept of micro hits of rest, the power of starting small, and the significance of every step taken towards achieving one's dreams. Alyson's journey from accidental entrepreneur to empowering leader will inspire and motivate you to take control of your life and business. Plus, she'll share practical tips on effective messaging, building systems, and achieving work-life balance.


**This was also a podcast episode (episode #212. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.


Redefining Time Off (A Sabbatical) As An Entrepreneur

Let's kick things off by breaking down the myth of the traditional sabbatical and introducing a concept that fits our hustling entrepreneur lifestyle.

Typically we think of either (1) someone taking 6 months off who has the financial resources to not only pay to live but also have a luxurious time off as well or (2) someone being forced to take time off from their job because of some type of illness or family issue.

But Alyson encourages us entrepreneurs to rethink this and to:

🌴 Take Mini Sabbaticals: Who says a sabbatical has to be months long? It can start as small as a weekend. Disconnect, recharge, and return refreshed.

🛠️ Prioritize Rest: High performance requires rest and reflection. It's like recharging your entrepreneurial batteries.

🔒 Setting Boundaries: Entrepreneurial freedom means you get to set your own boundaries. Alyson's approach: no work on Fridays, weekends off, and no work past 6 p.m.

💡 Creative Solutions: Building a business that demands less of your time is possible. Think creatively to find the right balance.

"Rest is a critical function of high performance... I think we can use rest, i.e., a sabbatical, to basically create the full pie of productivity and performance and be able to reach the next level inside of our business."— Alyson Caffrey


Want to learn more about The Sabbatical Method?

I used Alyson's book to prepare for taking a month off in my business and her approach is doable, relatable and refreshing! I highly recommend buying your copy of her book!


The 90-90 Principle for Planning In Your Business

Now, let's dive into Alyson's 90-90 principle—a powerful method for planning your business and ensuring you get to enjoy those mini sabbaticals.

"It's super important to first and foremost, as you're planning your year and as you're planning your quarter, identify what is your priority. I call this the 90 principle and it's 90 minutes of focus for 90 days. Period. It's super elegant. It's super simple." - Alyson Caffrey

📆 Quarterly Missions: Each quarter, set a specific mission that aligns with your long-term business goals.

Focused Work: Dedicate 90 minutes a day for 90 days to your mission. It's all about focused work rather than endless multitasking.

🌐 Work-Life Balance: The 90-90 principle helps structure your work, so you're in control of your business, not the other way around.

🤹‍♂️ Adapting as Needed: Remember, flexibility is key. Don't be too hard on yourself if you occasionally work late. The aim is to trend toward a healthier balance.

Image of someone laying in a grassy area, you can see their legs and shoes and the horizon

Create Systems In Order To Step Away & Take A Sabbatical

Regardless of whether you'd like to take a month off one day or you're starting with the weekends, the best way to get started with planning for a sabbatical is to start creating systems in your business.

These are commonly referred to as SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures) and while they can seem irrelevant (or boring!), they are the things that will make running your business, easier. Alyson had a great suggestion of how to think about this:

"You want to think about this like a savings account, you want want to deposit in there just in case and then when it's time to take a chunk out to actualize some of your dreams, that's when we want to know it's there for us to access. The same is true for documenting and creating systems inside your business." - Alyson Caffrey

She also suggests a simple tool to get started with this for free (or low cost if you upgrade to the paid account to record longer videos).

Record Your Screen Using Loom: even before you're ready to hire someone to take something off your plate, record your standards that you operate by so you can hand it over later.

Know What's Important To You & Build The Business That Supports That Dream

Alyson shares that she build a business that needed 70 hours of her time each week because that's what she put into the business. However, after welcoming her first child she realized that she needed to remove the "badge of honor" that her clients needed her and focus on creating a business that needed less of her.

"Build the business that requires 30 hours of your time" - Alyson Caffrey

Take Away Message / Action

It's time to think about what "sabbatical" means to you. Do you want to prioritize not working on the weekends? Do you want to ensure that you don't work more than 30 hours a week?

Based on Alyson's definition of a sabbatical being focused on rest so you can be more present and focused in your business, what does rest look like for you?

Then I'd encourage you to get a copy of Alyson's book "The Sabbatical Method" and go through her process so you can implement and make it happen.

Until next time give yourself permission to take a sabbatical that works for you and grace along the way. I'll talk to you soon.

About Alyson:

Alyson Caffrey is the ‘Wolf’ that helps streamline the back-end operations for digital and creative agencies. She is the founder of Operations Agency, the co-creator of the Operations Simplified™ Framework, and the best selling author of The Sabbatical Method: How to Leverage Rest and Grow Your Business. She is also the host of the celebrated Growing Pains Podcast. She and the team at Operations Agency are determined to help businesses thrive profitably, serve more clients and create high-performing teams.

Alyson's Resources:

Other Resources Mentioned:

Ep. 212: The Sabbatical Method with Alyson Caffrey

"You want to think about this like a savings account, you want want to deposit in there just in case and then when it's time to take a chunk out to actualize some of your dreams, that's when we want to know it's there for us to access. The same is true for documenting and creating systems inside your business."

- Alyson Caffrey


Add Another Book To Your To-Read List!

Image of Program: Proffitt Podcasting

Combine Alyson's inspiring message about building in rest with my message about defining and pursuing your definition of success and you'll be unstoppable!

Use the link below to grab your copy today!


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