Time for a break

Working at Automattic comes with many perks, but none quite so amazing as a three month paid sabbatical to disconnect from work and do whatever you want to do, without having to worry about paying the bills.

Want to finally write that novel you never have time for? Ever thought of hiking the Appalachian Trail or riding all 9289km of the Trans-Siberian Railway in one go? What about that blacksmithing apprenticeship you’ve always wanted to try? Or perhaps you’ve been thinking of going back to school, finish that degree you had to leave incomplete, because life? The possibilities are endless.

On 30 November I celebrated my five-year anniversary at Automattic and became eligible for that benefit, and today I bid my team “See y’all later!”, set my vacation autoresponder in Gmail, and quit Slack. For the next three months I can do whatever I want with my time.

It’s kinda overwhelming, to be honest. “Communication is Oxygen,” says the Automattic Creed, and the idea of not logging into Slack every day, not reading a single P2, and not catching up with my team in our weekly Zoom, is downright terrifying.

At the same time it’s liberating: with your office on your laptop, and even your phone, the temptation to just be connected, online, and “at work” 24/7 becomes very hard to resist. It took me the better part of my first four years at the company to figure out that this isn’t sustainable, but still, the pull to just quickly check Slack to see what my US team mates are chatting about, or make sure I haven’t perhaps received a reply to that important P2 post I published, is always there.

But for the next three months I simply don’t have to. It will probably take me a few days to properly “detox” from work, but I plan to forget about work and truly enjoy this privilege.

My plans aren’t anything as exotic as the stuff I listed above – the global pandemic has taken anything involving travel off the table. But I’m looking forward to just spending time with my family, camping out in the garden with the minion, working on some home improvements, going on safari again (I still need to cross the elusive leopard off my list). I might blog a bit more, now that my day won’t involve staring at other people’s blogs all day. Then again, you might not see me again until after Easter.

I might also finally finish that novel I can never find time for…

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