When you’re your own boss it can be hard to switch off.
So it’s no surprise that we also find it difficult to take off more than just an evening—a whole long weekend, a week or even longer.
The flexibility to set your own schedule as a freelancer can make it all the harder to draw the line on when you should be working and when you need to take a break.
Sure, freelancers may have the freedom to work from a laptop at the beach, but that makes it difficult to ever choose to just enjoy a beachside cocktail without thinking about work.
But listen carefully: you can take a holiday as a freelancer, and not only that, you should.
Here’s why (and how you can make it work).
Why it’s essential to take a vacation
Need a little push to take the leap?
If nothing else, do it for your health. There’s plenty of scientific research that holidays are good for your health.
A 5-year study of women in rural Wisconsin found that women who took more frequent vacations had lower rates of depression and tension. The University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center found that people who took more leisure time, including vacations, reported more life satisfaction, finding more meaning in life.
Holidays are an essential part of avoiding burnout, which apart from being stressful for you, can also be one of the quickest ways of losing clients.
Without your health, there’s no one to run your business, so don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself.
Once you’re back from your holiday, you’ll be feeling refreshed and more productive. Your clients will love you for it.
Right, now that’s out of the way (like you needed that much convincing), here’s how to get started.
How to take a holiday as a freelancer
1. Plan ahead
Of course, preparation for your vacation is going to be essential if you want to ensure that interruption to your business is minimal and you can actually relax when you take off. Plan as far as possible ahead so that your time off work will go smoothly.
This probably means that you’ll be putting in a bit of extra work before you head off to make sure you’re on top of things. It also means that you should get good at saying no to last-minute gigs before your trip.
It’s a good idea to have work planned for your first week back so that there’s no time for post-holiday blues and you won’t have the bills piling up without anything coming in.
Planning ahead also includes making sure your budget will cover your holiday expenses so you’re not adding additional stress to your time off. Choose a holiday destination that’s well within budget.
Give your clients plenty of notice that you’ll be taking time off, preferably in writing. Remind them a week or so prior to your trip as well.
It sounds like basic courtesy, but you’d be surprised at how this simple gesture can go a long way. They’ll appreciate the forward planning and communication, and they may even be happy that you’re able to take a well-deserved break—we’re all human after all.
First of all you need to schedule an ‘out of office’ detailing your days off, whether you’ll be checking or replying to email during this period, other ways your clients can reach you (if any), and an alternate contact (if applicable).
Or, if you want your clients to share in your excitement, use this out-of-office generator created by Corona to create a personalized message.
Consider checking out the app Inbox pause to fight against the urge to check your emails while you’re away. Or if you’re really worried about switching off completely, you could always ask a virtual assistant to monitor your inbox and text you any really urgent tasks.
4. Share the load
If you don’t want to put certain projects or clients on hold completely, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Outsource your work to other freelancers. They might even send some work your way the next time they’re taking a break.
Just make sure that you handover properly and are not compromising on quality – only refer to another freelancer friend if you know they’re going to offer your clients the same standard you’d produce.
5. Get creative
Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean that you can’t be gathering inspiration for future work. Pick up ideas for stories, take some photos, write some travel blogs or meet other people who work in similar fields.
Alternatively, use your break as an opportunity to try something new. Building skills is a great way to increase your talents, improve brain power and demonstrate adaptability—which can translate into better work for future clients.
6. Ditch the guilt
It’s easy to feel guilty about all the work you could be doing, all the money you could be earning and all the clients you could be winning.
Remember that you’re human and we all need time out every now and then. Far from a sign of weakness, it’s admirable to take time out and demonstrate self-care.
You’ve got everything organized, planned ahead and communicated with your clients, and you’re ready to switch off and take a well-deserved break. It’s time to pour yourself that beverage of your choice, put your feet up and hit the refresh button.