A freelancer going on holiday? Are the legends true, can it really be done?!
It can indeed; and more importantly, it should be. Many freelancers work themselves to the bone as they build their businesses. The idea of leaving it all for a week or two can be terrifying and seemingly impossible. But isn’t freedom one of the biggest bonuses of freelancing? We aren’t shackled to the traditional 9-to-5 routine. We don’t need a boss’s permission for time off, we can just go!
But how? As a freelancer, how do you go on holiday without worrying about your business? Here are a few tips that are easy to follow so you can give yourself a chance to relax.
Prepare as early as possible
If you’re reading this article, you probably aren’t the kind of person to book a last-minute flight and jet off without a care in the world. You’ll be planning your trip at least a few weeks (maybe even a few months) in advance. As soon as you know when you’ll be unavailable, tell your clients. New clients, existing clients; anyone who might try to contact you while you’re gone. Send a reminder a week before you leave, in case your clients have any last-minute requests.
Clients will really appreciate you giving them advance notice of your absence. You’ll be able to create a schedule that means they get the work they need, and you get a well-deserved break. This might mean doing a bit of extra work before you go, but that’s just a bit of extra spending money for souvenirs or cocktails on the beach!
Automate as much as you can
Out-of-office emails are a vacationer’s best friend. An automatic reply will let someone know that you’re not ignoring them, which is especially useful if a new potential client gets in touch. I’d recommend including when you’ll be back to work in your out-of-office message. If a client knows they’ll hear back from you next week, they can plan for your return.
If you want to keep off social media while you’re on holiday, you can schedule content with tools like Buffer or Later. You can also schedule WordPress blog posts, so your readers won’t miss your wonderful writing while you’re away! There are so many great scheduling tools these days that just a little bit of planning will keep your online presence steady.
Budget for time off
One of the (few) downsides to not holding a typical job is you don’t get holiday time. If a freelancer doesn’t work, a freelancer doesn’t get paid. The best way to tackle this is to keep it in mind when budgeting. If you can, try to schedule your invoices so you get paid regularly, even while you’re away. If you can’t, try and take on some extra work before you leave. The additional projects can make up for the work you won’t be doing while on holiday. A lot of the time, clients may ask you to do some extra work before you go, so this work might not be too difficult to find.
Don’t be afraid of the “what ifs”
“What if I miss a work opportunity while I’m away?”
“What if my client gets annoyed they can’t reach me and doesn’t want to work with me again?”
“What if everything I’ve worked for falls apart because I’m not on top of it?”
Questions like these can ruin your holiday if you don’t get them in check. I believe the best way to counter any question like this is to respond with a different question:
What’s most important?
Work opportunities are important. Client retention is important. Not losing your business is important. But so is your happiness. So are your loved ones. So is your mental and physical health. Work/life balance is important, and you need to be able to have some time where work isn’t on your mind.
Missing one work opportunity doesn’t mean the end of your career. Losing an impatient client is probably a blessing in disguise. And even though it might feel delicate and fleeting, your business is strong enough to survive without constant supervision for a week or two. If you need something concrete to ease your anxiety, try to line up some work for after your return. Then you’ll know that you can jump back into your usual work rhythm as soon as you get home.
Give yourself a break- literally
If you’re going to take a break, do it completely. Don’t check your email. Turn off your Slack notifications. Delete your LinkedIn app if you have to. Freelancers have a tendency to blur the line between work and play, answering emails in front of the TV at night and working far more than 40 hours a week. Don’t let your holiday turn into just another work week. You won’t get a proper chance to relax, and you’ll miss out on quality time with your loved ones.
Maybe you’ve brought a business book to read on the beach, or you know there’s an email coming you’ll need to respond to. That’s fine; some people find that more relaxing than switching off completely. But decide how much “business stuff” is allowed on your holiday in advance and stick to it. Don’t allow one email to turn into ten. Remind yourself why you’re on holiday, and enjoy what you can’t enjoy at home. You deserve this holiday, so let yourself experience it!
Going on holiday as a freelancer doesn’t have to be a struggle between business and pleasure. Keep your clients informed, automate where you can, and give yourself the space to relax. You’ll come home refreshed and inspired, with happy memories and a zest for a new round of work. Go book a flight and find your sunglasses, it’s time for you to go on holiday!
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