If you’re a freelancer or owner of a small business, you need a holiday too. You’ve earned it.
Of course, you know this, but you also know that, when all is said and done, this venture is pretty much just you – no one else. You deal with the emails, finance, marketing, incoming leads and – of course – the work itself.
With that in mind, how on earth can you take a holiday? How is it possible to take time out to recharge the batteries if you simply can’t hand the business over to someone else for a week or two?
Fear of missing out on new business, upsetting existing clients and being unable to complete vital tasks is what keeps many a freelancer away from the land of vacations. And that’s such a shame, because it is possible to have a holiday if you’re in such a position.
I know this, because I make sure I take a break every year, and my business is just me – no one else. However, just as I plan my vacation, I plan the leaving and returning process. And it works.
Here are my five tried-and-tested steps for taking the holiday you deserve (without losing out).
1. Set expectations (with clients)
If you simply disappear for a week without informing the clients with whom you have on-going contracts, there’s a strong chance you’ll inadvertently sour relations.
A good few weeks before you head off, let your closest and most regular clients know that you’ll be disappearing for a holiday. Tell them when you’ll return, whether or not you’ll be monitoring emails (see number 5) and confirm the work that will be completed before you leave.
2. Set expectations (with yourself)
Have a chat with yourself. When it comes to being productive as a freelancer, time really is money, and if you’ve decided to take a break, you need to reassess your to-do list.
What can you realistically achieve before you head off? Which jobs can wait until your return? Set your own expectations of what you can do and ensure the pressing stuff is completed before you leave.
3. Work the hardest week of your life on the lead-up
There’s no getting away from this – the week leading up to your holiday will be a hectic one. You’ll have to work just as methodically, but pack far more in to ensure you keep clients happy and avoid coming back to an overwhelming mound of work.
Just keeping reminding yourself that it’ll be worth it.
4. Plan the return
By now, you should know what you need to do before you leave and what will be waiting for you (within reason) on your return.
Map out the first week you get back as a series of to-dos and, when you’re happy it won’t be like jumping into a frying pan on your return, file them away until that time.
5. Avoid the temptation to get involved while away
You’re probably ultra contactable, as we all are in the digital age, but don’t use that as an excuse to dip into work while on holiday. It’s aholiday after all.
If you feel comfortable with checking your email once every couple of days, ensure you promise yourself not to respond unless absolutely necessary, and whatever you do, don’t do any work unless it’s an emergency.
If you’ve followed steps 1 and 2 above, this one should be easy.
See? You can take that holiday, can’t you? As with so many things in business, it all comes down to the correct preparation and communication. Use my tips above, and you’ll be able to recharge those batteries without feeling guilty.