The confusing thing about sabbatical is that I'm not sure exactly when it does (or did) "officially" start. Did it start at the end of the previous semester/term? When I handed in my grades? Or does it start at the start of the new semester/term? So I arbitrarily decided that my sabbatical "officially" starts today.
I think this is going to be a recurring theme throughout the sabbatical---the uncertain markers of time, that is. I won't be following the flows of the semester/term anymore. I get to set my own rhythms. This is both tremendously freeing and tremendously terrifying.
The last time I had this much freedom was when I was finishing up my dissertation. Back then, I developed a schedule that worked well for me, and largely stuck to it. (Tight deadlines can be a great motivational force.) But this arose somewhat organically---I don't remember sitting down and saying "this will be my schedule". It just sort of happened on its own.
I've decided to try out a schedule of sorts, at least at first, to keep myself in the habit of working every (week) day and keep myself on track and productive. I've structured it according to my "natural rhythms": I'm most productive in the morning, least right after lunch, etc. I'll try it for a few weeks and see how well it works. Roughly, it looks like:
* AM: work on the really tricky research stuff, the stuff that requires the most thought and concentration, between breakfast and lunch.
* Lunch break
* PM: work for an hour or two after lunch on less taxing things: email, networking, maybe some teaching-related stuff (I'm thinking of revamping one of my electives during my sabbatical), finding ways to spend my research money. :) Maybe catch up on professional reading here, too.
* PM, part 2: work on research again for a couple of hours before dinner. Define tasks/goals for the next day. This might be extended or pushed back into the evening, too, depending on what else I have going on that day.
This should give me somewhere between 6 and a half and 8 hours of work-time per day, if all goes well.
I'm interested in your experiences: do you consciously schedule your days? How well does it work for you? What pitfalls and successes have you found?