Get up and Leave

I listened to “The Power of Time Off” by Stefan Sagmeister. His talk focused on how important it is to get away from the work place to rejuvenate yourself and your mind. In the beginning of the talk he pointed out that the first twenty five years of a person life is spent learning, the next forty is spent working and the next fifteen is spent on retirement. Instead of following this pattern, he decided he would cut out five years of retirement and disperse them in between the working years. So, every seven years he completely closes his art/design studio and takes a year off. Stefan went to Bali for a year and spent time thinking and trying to figure things out and he did just that.

In the talk he explains how after the year off he came back a new, more energetic person. Stefan mentions how he fell back in love with design, he enjoyed himself and in the long term the year off ended up being financially successful. Everything he did in the next seven years after returning from Bali originated from ideas he came up with when he was taking time off and saw this as a great accomplishment.

While listening to this talk I completely agree with Stefan that time off is important. People cannot constantly go full speed day after day without stressing themselves out. However, something I struggled with during this talk was the feasibility of being able to take a year off. It sounds great to be able to close down your business for a year and travel somewhere, but this requires money and job security, something many people do not have. If most people left their jobs for a year they would come back unemployed and struggling financially. So, I began to think about how to make it possible for people to rejuvenate themselves like Stefan stressed in the talk. I feel that people should take time off, but probably for only a few weeks to a month. It is much more realistic for people to pack up and leave for a shorter period of time while still rejuvenating themselves. Overall, the topic of the talk was good because there are too many people who “kill” themselves at work and need to take time to relax.


7 responses to “Get up and Leave

  1. I completely agree with the premise of this talk. That is, we need time off every once and a while. Our minds work in crazy ways: even when we aren’t consciously thinking about a problem, our brain is plugging away in the background, unconsciously. Opening up more brain capacity and resources to other activities besides work can expand your horizons and help formulate solutions that you are not even aware of yet. Getting caught in the monotony of daily work can grind you down, make you ineffective and sap you of your happiness. Bring on the vacation days.


  2. When I think of companies that overwork their employees, I typically think of investment firms and banks. For example, in The Wolf of Wall Street, the only way Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is able to function is by using copious amounts of cocaine – daily. Working 80-hour weeks is insane and is not sustainable. I know this is an extreme example of people being overworked, but taking time off to ease the mind is essential. I agree with both Joe and Spencer that having time to relax not only rejuvenates happiness, but also has the potential to increase effectiveness. The issue, as stated in Joe’s post, is finding viable ways to allow employees to take time off. Let’s be the generation that figures this out!


  3. I agree with Joe, Spencer and Taylor. All through elementary and high school teachers reiterated that you should never do your homework in one long, chunk of time. Rather, you should do work for an hour, take a twenty minute break, and then revisit work. The point of that was that after a certain amount of time, your brain stops being productive. Time off, even a brief 20 minutes of time off, refreshes you and gives you more motivation to continue. Implementing this mindset to a working atmosphere makes complete sense!


  4. I like all of your comments regarding my post. I think it is extremely important to take time off and take stress out of your life. Taylor I really hope we are the generation that figures it out as well!


  5. Other the summer I was talking to one o the VPs at my internship, asking her about career advice, and she mentioned something along this line. She told me that one reason that she enjoyed the company that I was interning at is because they do give many vacation days. And although some people would think this is lazy, she explained that everyone works very hard all the time and works pretty long hours, so it nice that the company recognized this and rewards employees with a significant amount of days off. Also, she gave me advice to take all of my vacation days in whatever job I may have because there are there for a reason. She said she thinks it is stupid when she hears people bragging about not using there vacation days, thinking it will make them look better. She said, being a VP, she would rather have someone who is so productive that they earn their days off and can rejuvenate for when the vacation is over, then someone so stressed and consumed with work that they cannot even step away from it.


  6. Professors every seen years take a sabbatical (same root as sabbath, i assume). The reason is exactly as you say, to rejuvenate, to pursue independent work, to go to new places.

    Once you take one, you are obligated to teach for a few years before you could move to another school.

    How hard would it be to do in many firms?

    Part of what makes it work is that if you think over ten years you will hire a few new people, you actually hire them in year one so that as people cycle through sabbaticals, you always have the slack to cover their absence.

    This is different from vacation because the idea is it is related to your professional development. Hence, a corporate sabbatical program might expect people to engage, broadly, in activities that would help their professional goals and work.

    Imagine if Bucknell could somehow support this by providing space and an intellectual community for people on sabbaticals to do research here, to share their insights or progress, to use our library, to work with students, etc.


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