Small boy with lots of chalk question marks over his head

Do you need a think week?

Posted by Laura Connell
Picture of Laura Connell
on 21 July 2010
Advice How to freelance Strategy

The economic downturn brought about a boom in mid-career gap years. The so called “sabbat-packers” took unpaid leave and did something adventurous thousands of miles away from their recession-struck offices.

But how does a 'think week' rank amongst productivity techniques?

The idea behind “sabbat-packing” was improve your quality of life by getting away from your job.

But does it work the other way round? Can you improve the quality of your job by getting away from your life? Well, it worked for Bill Gates...

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Think Week

Before Bill Gates stepped down from his day-to day duties at Microsoft, he famously went on biannual “Think Weeks”. During these weeks, he isolated himself from all distractions to focus on strategy.

However, Think Week was not a week of solitary musing- more of pro-active pondering.

For Bill Gates, Think Week looked something like this:


  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Microsoft employees


  • Hundreds of papers on the future of technology written by your employees

  • An assistant to cut the submitted papers down to about 100 prior to Think Week

  • A computerised response system to help you respond to papers

  • Secret island getaway

  • Helicopter to take you to secret-island getaway

  • Butler to make you lunch and dinner

  • Diet Orange Crush to fuel your 18-hour thinkathons

The idea of a Think Week is very appealing to me - certainly a good excuse to read all of the non-degree related books I have been saving for after graduation. I’m not sure about Diet Orange Crush though, I think I’ll stick to coffee.

Try it yourself

If you were going to design a Think Week for yourself...

  • What would you want to get out of it?
  • What would you read?
  • What would you ban?
  • What would be your brain-food of choice?

Let us know in the comments below! New call-to-action

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