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

Join the discussion

  • I have taken sabbatical before , to remove everything it was bad in my mind and I got refresh so now l feel really relaxing.

  • I’m now in a sabbatical in india for studying English and MBA courses also computer courses, sabbatical is useful to invest your time for learning new skills.

  • I didn’t take a sebbatical before because the company I work for doesn’t offre one and because I don’t feel like I want to take a sabbatical because I always find time to think about my whole life and my future goals and slow down my life

  • Just one my not about the “the cod created the world in six days and taken reset ” no this is not true, in Islamic the cod created the world in six days to learn us that noting can create suddenly you mast work and the thing is developing day on day, but the cod doesn’t need reset because he has a soupr powerful and thanks on iny things

  • Actually I don’t know, I’m thinking.Yes I did and I do every week I take a day for me but also I do a lot of things in it that’s why taking a sabbatical didn’t help me much.

  • Sabbatical is good and must the companies think about this resolution and give the workers some days to take rest from their works and they will back happier and more excited for their works and that helps the companies.
    I am student and now i dont think i need to take sabbatical because i believe the sabbatical will coming automattical after the education

  • I taking rest and going to holiday if i have a chance.
    Yes i did it before during my previous work.
    Yes it is helped me and when i came back to my work i was very energetic and excited .

  • Nowadays, all companies give sabbatical for their workers. Depend on each company, the worker might have from 12 to 15 days for sabbatical in my country. I would to hang out with some friends on a sabbatical. I feel like enjoying Sabbticals because I have time for relax, spend time with family or do anything.

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