I’ve been fortunate sufficient to take common holidays all through my five-year freelance profession. From household journeys to lengthy weekends, time without work to journey and go to the individuals I really like has all the time been a precedence. In fact, really unplugging from my work whereas I’m on trip is one other story.
Working example: I’m at the moment scripting this whereas on a aircraft flying to go to my in-laws (vaccinated and masked, in fact).
We will get into whether or not a working trip meets the definition of trip in any respect one other time. Nevertheless it’s exhausting to completely unplug and unwind as a contract enterprise proprietor. There all the time appear to be emails to reply, shoppers to handle, and advertising and marketing to do—to not point out deadlines to satisfy—all pushed by that nagging concern that if I decelerate, I’ll lose work or shoppers (or each).
And what if I by no means get one other project once more? What if I lose my momentum? What if my shoppers hate me for leaving them for every week or two?
What if what if what if.
It would sound dramatic, however it’s simple to spiral and let concern drive the decision-making process when running a business. In any case, that is my livelihood, and I don’t have the posh of built-in PTO or a salaried job that I can belief will likely be prepared for me once I return. I’m a one-woman present. Break day typically means cash left on the desk and day-to-day enterprise admin piling up. And that makes it tough to search out (and really take) time without work.
However taking breaks isn’t only a luxurious or a nice-to-have. Not as an employee and undoubtedly not as a freelancer. This yr, I realized that the exhausting method.
This yr, I’ve targeted on rising my enterprise from a part-time pursuit to a full-time profession. Whereas it’s been a rewarding yr, I rapidly discovered myself working nonstop, generally over 50 hours every week. And once I took two household holidays over the summer time, I ended up dedicating whole days to work as an alternative of stress-free and being with the individuals I really like.
As a lot as I liked the course my enterprise was going, my well being and well-being have been strained. I had bother sleeping—made all of the harder by my sporadic schedule, typically writing late into the night time to remain forward of deadlines. I used to be burdened on a regular basis, I had little time to train, and I wasn’t consuming properly, resorting to take-out and freezer dinners far too actually because I didn’t have the time or vitality to make a home-cooked meal.
I knew one thing needed to give. And I rapidly realized: I wanted to take an actual trip.
However figuring out what to do and really doing it are two various things. Whereas I knew I wanted a break, taking one would require altering my strategy.
8 suggestions for taking time without work as a freelancer
When your livelihood is dependent upon you working and sustaining a enterprise, it might really feel harmful to step away.
And that is true whether or not you have got a busy shopper workload or are hustling to fill your calendar. On the one hand, if in case you have a rising enterprise, stepping away would possibly imply dropping the ball. Then again, if you happen to don’t have sufficient work (or as a lot as you’d like), taking time without work would possibly really feel like one thing you actually can’t afford to do.
However the fact is, you may’t afford to not take a break. Taking time without work as a freelancer is feasible. It simply requires strategic planning. Right here’s what’s labored for me:
- Plan ahead
- Tell your clients early
- Budget for it
- Get ahead on work
- Set boundaries
- Consider subcontracting
- Shift your mindset
- Start small
1. Plan forward to construct it into your calendar
One of the necessary steps to constructing trip into your schedule is to prioritize it forward of time. Block out time that you just’ll dedicate to a trip (even when it’s a staycation), and put it on the calendar so you may plan round it when scheduling shopper work. Placing it on the calendar ensures you’ve accounted for that point: you received’t overbook your self and you may notify your shoppers prematurely, in order that they’re ready too.
It is a good train on your annual enterprise planning in the beginning of the yr, particularly if you realize that you’ve a household journey or vacation developing, however you are able to do it anytime.
2. Inform your shoppers early
For longer time without work that can affect common shopper schedules, notify your shoppers no less than a couple of weeks forward of time, so you may work with them to plan round your trip.
Telling your shopper you’re taking time without work (relatively than asking) can really feel uncomfortable at first. Having a easy script will help. Right here’s what I wrote to 1 shopper:
I needed to present you a heads up that I will likely be taking a while off subsequent month and will likely be unavailable from [date to date]. Simply needed to get that in your radar as you intend out your calendar for the following few weeks. Within the meantime, please preserve sending work my method—I’ve capability for 1-2 tasks every week earlier than I take off.
For this journey, I’m taking two weeks off and notified my shoppers a few month earlier than. Most shoppers are versatile and completely satisfied to work with you round your calendar—particularly when you have got loads of discover. As an illustration, considered one of my month-to-month shoppers had a deadline proper once I return, and I requested to bump the project a couple of days:
I will likely be OoO for 2 weeks from [Date to Date]. With our present cadence, I can get the final article in earlier than I go away, however wouldn’t it work on your staff if we moved the primary deadline subsequent month from [X Date to Y Date]?
Or let me know if there’s a greater timeline for you. Thanks!
That works nice for us, so we’ll plan on that. Thanks for the heads up!
Simple peasy. For the remainder of my shoppers, I made certain to tie up the month’s tasks earlier than I left and mentioned no to any assignments that landed throughout my time away. Which brings me to my subsequent tip.
3. Finances on your trip
Freelancers don’t get PTO from an employer—time without work work is time not creating wealth. However that doesn’t imply you shouldn’t take a trip. It simply means it is advisable to funds for it and set charges and steadiness your workload accordingly.
For me, that included elevating my charges this yr and taking over extra assignments within the months main as much as my trip. That method, by the point my journey rolled round, I may afford a lighter month of labor and never really feel (too) responsible for turning down tasks.
Professional tip: Arrange a enterprise account on your freelance earnings, then schedule automated funds each two weeks to your private account, so you have got an everyday “paycheck” coming in. (You’ll have to construct up some financial savings right here for a cushion). That method, you have got your individual “PTO” with a gradual earnings. This will help you funds not just for holidays but in addition on your regular month-to-month bills, with out feeling as a lot strain throughout freelance ebbs and flows.
4. Get forward in your work
You don’t wish to burn yourself out (extra), however if in case you have the bandwidth, front-loading your work will help you slot in all of your tasks early, so you may take time without work with out disrupting your earnings.
That is best to do when following the primary two steps of planning forward and speaking with shoppers early. Letting my shoppers know forward of time what my calendar and availability will likely be offers them the possibility to plan which tasks to ship my method (and get them to me in time).
Whereas this does imply you is likely to be doubling up on work for every week or two, it additionally retains your earnings comparatively regular—which is very necessary for freelancers with much less flexibility of their budgets.
5. Set boundaries for your self
Boundaries are a freelancer’s greatest pal. Whereas saying no isn’t all the time simple (particularly for us people-pleasers on the market), setting expectations up entrance is vital to freelance survival.
That’s why I plan to completely unplug on this trip. No checking my e-mail, no following up on work, nothing. For a recovering perfectionist and anxious enterprise proprietor, the prospect feels each liberating and scary—I hate the thought of not being in management. And the way can I really feel in management if I’m not checking e-mail?!
However I additionally comprehend it’s one thing I want and deserve.
To make this work with out leaving shoppers or prospects hanging, I set an automatic out-of-office notification on my email.
Are you seeing a theme right here? It’s all about communication. Learn to say no to work alternatives scheduled in your trip, and talk with shoppers to set deadlines that give you the results you want.
6. Contemplate subcontracting work
Full disclaimer: I haven’t had to do that but, however particularly for busy seasons the place I don’t wish to say no to work, hiring a subcontractor to maintain issues rolling whereas I’m out is an efficient choice.
Subcontracting takes a bit extra planning—particularly if you happen to aren’t at the moment working with anybody but. If you realize you wish to subcontract work throughout your trip, begin the hiring course of early, as it’s going to take time to vet and onboard the suitable individuals for your online business.
As I proceed to construct up my enterprise, I count on to work no less than sometimes with subcontractors all year long. Constructing these relationships now earlier than I’m swamped or on the eve of a trip will set me as much as extra simply hand off assignments and be extra versatile with my time.
7. Work in your mindset
Taking a trip is difficult for freelancers as a result of we’re used to a feast-or-famine cycle, and saying no to work is horrifying. However shifting your mindset could make a world of distinction.
I discover it useful to remind myself of these items:
My shoppers will likely be there once I return.
I’ve discovered work earlier than, so I can discover extra work once I get again.
Trip isn’t a nice-to-have: it’s going to make me higher at my work.
They’re easy mantras, however they assist floor me in actuality and cease the concern cycle from spiraling right into a full-blown panic. If you happen to’re a worrier like me, or simply discover the prospect of leaving your online business on auto-pilot for a couple of days or perhaps weeks to be daunting, work on altering the narrative in your thought patterns. This is not going to solely scale back stress but in addition aid you make holidays and time without work the precedence they need to be.
8. Begin small
Each state of affairs is totally different, and never everybody can afford an prolonged trip. If you happen to can’t take a full week off (or extra), begin small with a couple of days or a protracted weekend to recharge. You don’t even must go wherever both. Staycations might be as stress-free and rejuvenating as a visit to the seashore (okay, perhaps not as stress-free because the seashore—however you get the image).
Merely taking a step again to unwind will give your thoughts and physique the time they should recharge. Even only a day or two will help you come to work with recent perspective, renewed vitality, and motivation till your subsequent trip.
A rested freelancer is a greater freelancer
Taking a trip as a freelancer isn’t all the time simple—however it’s price it. So begin the place you’re. Whether or not that’s a protracted weekend away, a one-day staycation, or every week (or two or three) within the solar, begin planning now on your subsequent break.
Now if you happen to’ll excuse me, I’ve a trip to take.