It’s been 3 weeks since we left sunny South Africa, and based on popular beliefs, new habits should have formed by now. The get-up-early-to-get-cracking-with-the-day routine of everyday life should be all but a distant memory.

On the contrary, we are on a very strict schedule – those who know me will understand my need for structure (and my love for schedules). Sure, we’re no longer waking up to an annoying alarm, but rather allowing our natural sleep cycle to function on its own; and leaving our house doesn’t involve long, painful sessions in the morning traffic; but our get-up-early-and-get-to-work habit definitely hasn’t gone anywhere.

When planning our journey, we spent a lot of time referencing the Godfather of creative sabbaticals, and the reason behind the two of us deciding to take this year off.

Stefan Sagmeister is a graphic designer by trade, and an inspiring revolutionary, like, all the time. Both Steve and I were lucky enough to attend the 2014 Design Indaba where we were first introduced to Stefan’s theory of time off (I feel I have praised him enough to refer to him by his first name only from here on out). On a scale of 1 to 10, Stefan rates taking a creative sabbatical as a 12. Every seven years, Stefan closes his NY-based design studio for 365 days to pursue “little experiments” that are difficult to complete whilst working full time. He literally closes the doors to all clients, and is unavailable, while he enjoys a very “energetic time” – a time necessary for creative rebooting.

Stefan has taken two of these sabbaticals thus far, and a learning from the first, was that a strict schedule needs to be put in place to ensure maximum productivity (and so it does not become an extended holiday with occasional creative outbursts).

Inspired by this notion, our daily schedule has semi-flexible time allocations, and looks a little something like this (give or take five or ten minutes on either side, and only applicable when we’re staying somewhere for longer than two days):

06:30 – 07:00 : Wake up and pinch ourselves that this is not a dream, and we are in fact traveling round the world.

07:00 – 07:30 : Community management of our social platforms. We have active communities on both our HowFarFromHome and PixelPaws Instagram accounts, as well as our personal social platforms, and we find block-booking time to manage those communities helps keep it consistent, and also ensures we’re not spending our entire day on social media (something we did a lot of back home). If we’re in a new city, this will also be the time we update our “currently in” on all profiles.

07:30 – 07:45 : A mix of Yoga, Pilates and made-up stretch moves. One thing that has changed drastically is that we are no longer spending eight hours a day, sitting hunched over a laptop. Our new lifestyle has definitely challenged our bodies into using unfamiliar muscles, so the stretching is helping us transition.

07:45 – 08:00 : Meditate. Something neither of us have ever tried before, but we’re slowly training ourselves to still our minds and focus on why we are on this journey. I, myself, have found that I am my most creative during these 15 minutes – although I constantly need to remind myself to stop thinking of ideas and rather breathe in, breathe out, breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…

08:00 – 08:30 : Run. Again, not something we ever really made time for before, but it’s proving to be more and more necessary. As with the meditation, it’s a great time to think creatively and strengthen our bodies for all the exploring. We’ve started with 3km runs but will hopefully build that up into at least 5km per day, (I know Chase is smiling right now).

08:30 – 09:00 : Indulge in a fresh-Brötchen-mit-home-made-Marmalade breakfast (or whatever the local specialty is).

09:00 – 09:30 : Post content. As mentioned above, we have various active social communities, and we’ve chosen to post content to them during this time, to keep consistency and interest, but also to keep our social media usage down.

09:30 – 10:00 : Brainstorm how we can change the world. No, really. We let our thoughts wander and see what we, as tiny little wanderlusters in this massive, massive world can do to make a positive impact.

10:00 – 12:00 : Explore and create. Feeling pumped after our brainstorm, this is where we grab our cameras, laptop or iPad, and create (whether it’s wandering around the city we’re in, writing, drawing, taking pics, filming or editing), this is the time where we experiment and explore. We occasionally also like to set ourselves a little “brief of the day”, limiting us to either one medium, or a certain task, and we’ll go off and challenge said brief.

12:00 – 13:00 : Lunch. Unlike the dinners in South Africa, lunch seems to be the main meal of the day here in Europe; almost a daily celebration. This is where we enjoy the local cuisine and local specialties, with the locals (I’m trying to gather recipes as we go, so one day I can launch a European cookbook #SmallGoal). I’ve also learned to treat lunch as a midday meditation – a time to stop and really enjoy the moment – no need to rush through and eat whilst working (again, something I was fond of at home).

13:00 – 14:30 : Learn something. Whether it’s reading something from our vast eBook library, taking a Duolingo class, an online course in coding, or even a Skillshare class in digital painting, we’re consciously making time to broaden our skills and learn something new, every single day.

14:30 – 15:00 : Nap. I’m finally starting to understand the concept of “the siesta”. With the amount of walking we’re doing, and the creative requirements for our “explore and create” sessions, the daily 20-30 minute nap is proving to be a necessary reboot, and something all humans should pick up from our furry friends.

15:00 – 18:00 : Explore and create. Round two of photo capturing, area exploring and possibly practicing what we learned at one o’clock. I find I do most of my writing in the morning, and the afternoons are more visually stimulating. Perhaps there’s some sort of scientific explanation for that? Maybe not.

18:00 – 18:30 : Dinner. Often quite small, but still involves a lot of socializing with the locals, and trying to learn some new words.

18:30 – 20:30 : Explore and create. If we’re not outside cycling through the area, round three of our “explore and create” sessions is often a tug-of-war between Steve and I to decide who gets to use the laptop. This normally forces the one who lost to go old school with some pens and paper, which is a challenging task in itself.

20:30 – 21:00 : Get ready for bed. Mmmmm, bubble baths. And snacks. 

21:00 – 06:30 : Bed. Nice and early as we have to get our eight hours a day

Whether it’s new habits forming, or old habits being refined, three weeks into our journey I can definitely feel my body, mind and soul challenged, yet rejuvenated, and in ways I wasn’t expecting. Thank you Stefan.



No Comments
  • Camila Hannoun
    Posted at 15:06h, 26 March Reply

    Hi Chanel, howzit? Not sure if you remember me..I used to work at KNR Flatrock before you joined them. You replaced me when I came back to Brazil! I’d like to congratulate u n your bf for this amazing sabatical! Congrats for all the courage! I’m also really enjoying your newsletters, always have fun reading, so keep the writing 😉 This last one was my favourite so far! I’m the schedule and to-do-list freak! So you can imagine how I felt reading about ur day! Loved it! Lol! All the best on the journey and hope you guys find all the inspiration n love you are looking for! Cheers, Camila


  • Wholesome Road
    Posted at 09:06h, 05 May Reply

    Thanks for sharing your daily life with the world! It’s beautiful that you both have taken the time out of the rat race to get back to creating and exploring. It’s very inspirational and I know many readers will be thinking the same 🙂 Also LOVE your PixelPaws account! Really lovely and I appreciate you documenting the wonderful things in the world!

    • howfarfromhome
      Posted at 11:30h, 05 May

      Thanks so much! Glad you’re enjoying and feeling inspired – it’s what we aim to do!

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