Vacation, holiday, time out… whatever you wanna call it, taking one when you work for yourself is easier said than done. And I’m not talking about a workation either, those are a farce! You end up doing more work than vacationing every time.
In order to take a vacation as a freelancer, you need to put in a bit of planning — sure you can take a holiday whenever you want, but if you do that, you’ll still need to be ‘on call.’ If you want to avoid that, then follow the steps below, plan in advance and have a real vacation for once!
Side Note: I’m about to take 10 days off myself, without having to check in with clients and I can do this because I’ve planned in advance. I’m all for workcations (that’s what we’ve been doing while in Chiang Mai) but everyone needs a proper break at least every three months. So I’m taking one!
Failing to plan is planning to fail…
Are you ready? Make sure you’re taking notes and taking action, so that you can get yourself on holiday quick smart.
Steps for Taking a Real Vacation
Step 1: Work in advance
Pick a date in the future, at least 6 weeks in advance that you want to take your vacation. Now work backwards...
If you have ongoing clients, you know the one's, they pay you a retainer each month to do work for them every month. Those clients need a bit of prep. So reach out to them and let them know how much time you're planning to take off.
Reassure them that it will be 'business as usual' while you're away, but that if they need anything extra done outside of what you normally do for them, they need to get this to you by a certain date (set a deadline of at least 2 weeks out from your holiday date) in order for it to happen prior to you heading away.
If you're taking on one-off projects, make sure that you give yourself enough time to get these done prior to your holiday.
You do not want to be finishing things off out at the airport lounge!
If you need to maintain a certain level of income, take on a few extra projects to cover your holiday time off.
A few extra hours here and there won't hurt for peace of mind and a true vacation, right?
Step 2: Add a P.S. to your email signature
You'll always miss someone when it comes to notifying people that you're heading away. The easiest way to solve this is to add a P.S. or note to your email signature letting people know the dates you'll be away and when you're back on deck.
Give people 4-6 weeks notice so that they can adjust their expectations as well.
While you're at it, add an out of office to your account. If you're using Gmail, this is pretty easy to do. You can add an out of office from your settings and tell Gmail when to turn this on.
This way, if you're off having fun on your holiday, you won't have to worry about checking emails every day.
Step 3: Leave technology behind
Do yourself a huge favour and leave at least your laptop behind. You won't need it, particularly if you've followed the two steps above.
Your smartphone and tablet should be enough and if you wanna take things a step further, switch off your email notifications and stop syncing. The world will not fall apart while you're away.
If you're worried, and don't yet have a VA, hire one for the period you're away to deal with urgent emails. They'll have your number so they can text your or Facebook message you, because let's face it, you'll always have your Facebook running on your phone!
Step 4: Enjoy yourself!
Don't worry about what's happening back home, focus on your holiday!
Plan a few things for the first few days you're there, so that you're not tempted to fall into checking emails or thinking about work.
If you must check emails, set a timer for 30 minutes and stick to it. Your family will thank you for it.
Now go on, book yourself that much needed holiday. It doesn’t take a lot of forethought to put the above into action. And you know what, you’re ongoing clients won’t even care! So just do it!
Do you have any other suggestions you’d recommend before taking an actual real vacation? Share your thoughts in the comments below!