Work Less and Live Better

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Image by 畅 苏 from Pixabay

Is it possible to work less and actually get more done? Could more rest be the key to better work? Adam Navis and Liz Waid tell about the ancient idea of the sabbatical. Could this tradition be coming back?

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Yunzhe Zhou is a job coach. She helps people who are tired of their jobs and need a change. She tells people to try and connect with something that makes them excited and gives them energy. She spoke to the magazine Fast Company:

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Voice 3 

“If you are giving 1000% percent at your current job, and you still feel like something is missing, it is a good sign that it may not be the right direction.”

Voice 2 

But it is not always easy to find the right direction. This is why one ancient idea is becoming popular again: the sabbatical. This time away from work can bring ideas, energy, and a new direction. Today’s Spotlight is on sabbaticals.

Voice 1 

The idea of a Sabbatical began with the ancient Hebrew law called Sabbath. Traditionally, Jewish people believe that God created the world in six days. On the seventh day, God rested. They believe that God created people to work for six days and then rest for one day. Yet, sabbaticals are no longer just a religious idea. Experts around the world agree that resting from work is good for all people.

Voice 2 

A sabbatical is not a vacation. A vacation is a time away from work to rest, travel, or spend time with people we love. But a sabbatical is different. Traditionally, a sabbatical is a year off work to travel or study. A person may or may not receive payment for this year. The company Remote Year helps people travel the world while still working over the Internet. They explained sabbaticals on the company website:

Voice 4 

“Sabbaticals are not defined by the lack of work. They are defined by the presence of work. People who are taking sabbaticals today are not taking time off from work for relaxation. They are following another kind of personal or professional work. They are using this time to follow their dreams. They may work to create something that they have been dreaming about for years. They are using it to do a project that they have not been able to work on for years.”

A man in a hammock uses a computer and drinks coffee
Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay
Voice 1 

The most common place where people take sabbatical is in university. Usually, a professor gets a sabbatical every seven years. A professor on sabbatical does not have to teach students or meet with other professors. But that does not mean they do nothing. Many professors travel to a new country. Others write a book. Some finish  a research project. Many professors return with new energy and new ideas. The sabbatical is good for the school, the students, and the professor.

Voice 2 

In recent years, many businesses noticed that it was not working well to ask people to work more and more. These companies began to offer workers a sabbatical. Two major businesses that offer sabbatical options are McDonald’s and Nike. Some banks and law and accounting firms offer them too. Some companies require a person on sabbatical to volunteer or further their education. But other companies place no requirements on what a person must do.

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Voice 1 

It is easy to understand how a break from work can help a person. But will a break from work help a company? How can working less make someone a better worker? David Burkus is a teacher at Oral Roberts University. He speaks at conferences about leadership. He wrote about sabbaticals for the Harvard Business Review:

Voice 5 

“The research found that people who took sabbaticals experienced less stress and an increase in overall well-being. Those positive changes often remained long after the people returned to work. The employees benefit from time away, but the organization benefits as well. The majority of people said the time away gave them the space to have ideas for new projects.”

a hiker stands in front of a sunset
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Voice 2 

Sabbatical programs are still not offered to most people. Does this mean that sabbaticals are only for a few people who teach at a university or work at a company that offers sabbaticals? How can a farmer take a sabbatical? Or a builder? Or writer?

Voice 1 

Most people in the world work in places where they only get paid if they work. If they do not come to work, they risk losing their position. But as companies around the world start to see the advantage of offering sabbaticals, more are beginning to offer them.

Voice 2 

The Hilton Hotel gave sabbaticals to workers from Sri Lanka and Singapore. Starbucks Coffee offers some workers in China up to a year-long sabbatical. In India there has been increasing interest in sabbaticals. People are finding ways to work less, travel, and experience life. Mario D’Souza works in marketing. He wanted to take a sabbatical, but his company did not offer one. He decided to make his own sabbatical. He told Fortune India:

Voice 6 

“I had to plan for this break. I do not get paid for this time. So I have had to think through expenses. I stopped doing things such as eating out, watching films and ordering food. But it has been great! The amount of money I spent on these kind of things was amazing. I only understood when I made myself do this.”

Voice 1 

But what about people who cannot afford to take time away from work? Everyone needs time to rest from their work. There are several ways that people can make rest part of their lives.

Voice 2 

The first idea is to take one day off from work each week. You rest, spend time with family, or gather with your religious community. The second thing is to take one day each month and disconnect from everything. Leave your phone at home and go outside. Walk through nature. Sit and do nothing. Slow down and think about your life.

A forest path
Image by Fabricio Macedo FGMsp from Pixabay
Voice 1 

Maybe your life does not permit either of those things. One final thing may still be possible: disconnect for one hour each day. One hour each day may not feel possible. So, start with ten minutes and then build up to one hour. By taking this time you will be more productive. But you may also live a happier life!

Voice 2 

If you could take a sabbatical, what would you do? Have you taken a sabbatical before? Did it help you? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at contact@spotlightenglish.com. You can also find us on Facebook and YouTube.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.spotlightenglish.com. This program is called, ‘Work Less and Live Better’.

Voice 2 

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Listen to our discussion about this program on YouTube


What would you do on a sabbatical? Have you taken a sabbatical before? Did it help you?

Join the discussion

  • Despite I work as a teacher at college I’ve never taken a sabbatical before. If I would have a sabbatical I will travel all around the world, meet new people and learn their customs and culture.

  • the things we can do in sabbatical is spend time with family, or gather with your religious community . and leave the phone at home and Walk through natur

  • No, I have not taken sabbatical Before. If I could take sabbatical I will travel and I will spend my time to learn new things, and I will enjoy in every moment. Some time I take rest for minutes to think of my life , I usually go to see the nature to rest, this is make me so comfortable

  • I spent time with my famaly, gather with your religiuos community, learning new things and doing what i like

  • I’m so excited to continue with these spotlights , may be make me improve my self , also my English language.
    Finally I’d like to thanks you for this spotlight

  • I will do to read more books and learn English very well maybe also take a course about nursing. Yes, I took it before. The program helps me to understand what I should do.

  • This articale really touched my soul , you now it is just last week i take this decsion i submitted my resigation to leave my work it not easy thing to not receving a monthly saraly bout my dreams deserve that, also it is not permit in my comapny a sabbatical , i wish can i get what i want , my advice follow your dreams whatever it costs you we are a human and we have soul it should be believe in it . In the ended thank you sptlightennglish to sharing a enthusiatic articles .

  • Hello, I thing sabbatical is good for manger company or professor the sabbatical for those who work day and night they must take sabbatical each year I think that. Thank you so much.

  • I am amothe of 2 wonderful boys I wish I can take a sabbatical for one day every month so I can back to them fresh and more energy

  • It is a great information that I know today , but i still bemused what is the company benefits when it offers a sabbatical for its workers ? But for me I haven’t taken like this offer before and i wish if the hospital i work in offers me like this i will travel around the world trying to explore it and learn from each culture that I will visit, I am so enthusiastic to take like this chance I am afford to take it I think it will be a crucial step in my life.

  • I would play sports and chill with my friends anywhere and trying to improve myself , l’m still a student so l already have a sabbatical every summer and it’s help me a lot

  • If I had a sabbatical , I’d like to go abroad, somewhere in Sorrento or another coastal city of Italy. I don’t had a sabbatical else on my current work, because it doesn’s has a such option on its rules. Finally, I’d like to say, that I’ll definely have a rest after I quit this job and get an International Passort.

  • I will think about my life more, rearrange the whole work and learn many new things that are beneficial to work,…, or travel alone. The last sabbatical helped me organize my work better

  • In the weekdays i must go out for school and work so i choose stay at home on the weekend. I hate feeling stuck in traffic and full smoke in outside. It make me feel tired.
    So on a sabbatical, i usually stay in bed to relax, listen to music, watch movie,… Then i go to the kitchen to cook my favorite food and enjoy them. Sometimes, i can hang out with friends in the suburbs. There is fresh air that is diffent from the stuffy air in the city center.
    Having a great sabbatical helps me regain my energy to start a new week.

  • In a sabbatical, I want to go travel or spend time for my family. I think a sabbatical for a week or a month is really need.

  • Certainly, I have just finished a sabbatical about 4 days. This is a vacation called National day. Unlucky, I have a sabbatical in the Covid epidemic. So I don’t have a chance to trip with my friends. Every year, if I have a sabbatical, I will have a travel famous place. For this sabbatical, I have a plan to learn new somethings and especially, I learn English to improve my skill English. I used to use the time of sabbatical very useful. Besides, I also visited my grandmother because she is near my house. Because the Covid 19 epidemic is happening, so I can save some of the money. I will use the money for learning and a tour trip in the foreign when Covid finishes. Thanks to the sabbatical, I have more time to relax and enjoy my life. For example, I have read books. Even I also cook new dishes for my family. It’s really happy.

  • What would you do on a sabbatical year?
    I would go on vacation to another country.
    Have you taken a gap year before?
    No, I’ve never done.

  • I took three months short sabbatical in this Covid epidemic. So I don’t have a chance to trip with my family and friends. For this sabbatical, I was about new experiences and pushing myself out of my routine. I did lots of random things that make me a more interesting person and I think overall it will help in my career in someway.

  • Have a rest each evry month and don’t useing a phone is the grete one I will do it. I have been take a sabbatical like walking 30 minutes and take deep breath in the morning.

  • After an exam of after finishing an essay, i take a sabbatical and stay at home, whete I can watch a movie all day, sit still and listen to music, or draw a picture. I also treat myself to a meal of comfort foods, such as fried chicken and cola, after finishing an exam. I find that taking a sabbatical is extremely beneficial because it allows me to put old things aside and prepare for new ideas

  • I was hospitalized for a week after contracting dengue fever from mosquito bites; since then, I’ve been more attentive; my mother also uses mosquito spray on a daily basis to spray around the home, and I normally sleep in tight pajamas.

  • I think a sabbatical makes me happy more in my life. It means except for my work, I will spend time with my family & my hobbies. My work can find, but my family is the only one.

  • fortunilty i can takeing sabistacall one hours every day to improve my English speaking and listening by spotlight website

  • I will visit new city in my country , and i will make my phone switch off , perhaps i walk everywhere and i will speak with new persons and watch film and eat in new resaurant
    , yes i took before but i not feel something just relaxing for my body

  • I take sabbaticals every in Hour in day I take 14 minutes off in the hour to rest my main
    I think we should take sabbaticals without the sleeping in the night

  • Well, I think a sabbatical very importance for me. You know, in a sabbatical, I can rest and do my favorite things such as travel, reading book, meet my boyfriend,…

  • Yes, I worked and pushed myself for years without any rest. Yes, and this is a soft mistake during work. You should also enjoy a little with your life
    Vacation = return to work with more energy = better success at work

  • Actually if I take asbbatical I will travel all around the world because I love exploring new things I am 17 years old I didn’t work yet but I wanted to share my opinion with you guys

  • Take a rest and travel in jeddah and watching any match to ittihad

    Yes , before 3 week ,i taked one day only

    Of course ,, i feel happier in my life

  • I am still student I haven’t get to university yet I have officinal vacation every year’s it’s really helpful to be more effective and powerful

  • unfortunately, I work in a place where they do not offer Sabbatical, but as you mentioned I take one day off every week it is a good option for me especially if it comes with the weekend.

  • it’s the first time i heard about a sabbtical any way i’m so gratful to spotlight group they tell us something intersting every time

  • Yes, I traveled alone and i built New relationships with new friends and i stoped thought about my work , when I back to my work I feel like a new employee with full power and motivated

  • Currently I don’t work so I can take a sabbatical any time but I do many things learn English and Chinese, learn programming and so on .When I take a sabbatical I do things that make me happy like watch drama ,film or comedy programs.

  • Actually , I didn’t take a sabbatical before, and if I did , I will do a lot of things, such as spending time with family first, reading books, improving my English skills, learning more about work and business, and others .

  • I prefer to do on sabbatical three essential things:
    first: spending time with my family.
    second: reading a box.
    third: the travel to natural countries.

  • No, I have not taken sabbatical Before . if i could take a sabbatical i will spend time with my family and friends , i will learn English , i will develop my skills .

  • Actually, I am a student at university, and now l’m in a vacation but I exploit it to learn English, I take conversation and writing course and I learn English from spotlight and I hope to improve my skills in English but the same time I spend the rest of the time in an experience new things like I made vegetable salad and cold Nescafe drink.

  • If i had a sabbatical , i would play with my brother and i will go outside and rest in the nature.
    Of course, i have taken a sabbatical to point i taken it every day at work i had rest to ten minutes and then completey work again

  • I think that a sabbatical is great. It helps me a lot. It reminds me there is difference between people and animals. People have a sabbatical. Thanks a lot for your program. God bless you!

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