Relax, unwind and push work stuff to the back of your mind.
For a guilt-free holiday from your freelance business, try these 4 things before you head off
Stepping away from your freelance business is difficult. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short break or long break. When you spend the majority of the year carefully nurturing it so it pays the bills and attracts the right clients, the thought of pressing pause is a cause for anxiety levels to rise.
From my experience this is because, as a freelancer, taking a holiday comes with extra baggage in the form of fears and a million questions.
What if my clients need me while I’m away?
What if there’s an emergency?
What if I miss out on a great opportunity?
How will a holiday impact my finances?
Like a mosquito you can hear but can’t see, having all these questions buzzing around isn’t conducive to a relaxed holiday mood. And for the sake of your sanity and well-being, you need to silence the noise and take a break.
Time off from work and clients is your chance to recharge your batteries and find new inspiration. While the thought of it may feel stressful, in my opinion you’re more useful to your clients if you take breaks compared to trying to work the whole year.
So how can you take a guilt free holiday from your solo business without stressing yourself out before you go?
Having just returned from a planned three-week holiday — which feels like a really long time to be away from my business — here’s what I did in the run up. Doing these four things let me step away from my business without (much) fear.
4 tasks to complete so you get a guilt free holiday from your freelance business
1. Take care of your clients
Without your clients your business would be zip-zero. Plus you worked hard to get them, so informing them you’re taking a break should be at the top of your pre-holiday planning list.
Let your clients know your holiday dates as early as possible. For this trip, I started telling my ongoing retainer clients around five months ahead of my departure date. I then peppered reminders throughout the weeks as my holiday got closer. This kept it fresh in their minds and also helped them prioritise the work they wanted completed before I went away. No doubt your clients are busy people too, so definitely don’t be shy when it comes to reminding them.
If I took on new clients and their project overlapped with my time away, I let them know from the start there would be a break before project end. It was then up to them if they wanted to press ahead, wait or look for another writer.
Whether informing new or ongoing clients, in all cases I made clear that this break away was a proper break from my business. I explained I wouldn’t be contactable during that time or checking work stuff. Being clear about this from the start helped everyone, because it allowed us to plan and prioritise. Which leads nicely onto my next point.
2. Prioritise the tasks left on your plate
As your holiday approaches it’s time to get serious about what you can realistically complete before you go away. If your freelance business is anything like mine, you have a to-do list that’s forever growing. As soon as you knock one item off another three appear.
You can’t do it all. And it would be crazy to try.
Look carefully at the tasks you need to complete for your business and your clients. Pick out the critical jobs that must be finished before you set your OOO. For me, this meant looking at my Trello boards and planning out what I can fit in with the hours and days I had left. So, where possible, start attaching time estimates to each task. This gives you a rough picture of how much you can get done without over reaching. Trying to label too much as a ‘priority’ means you’re not likely to get everything finished before downing tools and that can lead to feelings of guilt. Which isn’t an ideal feeling to have on your packing list.
3. Use spare time to get ahead on admin
Business admin isn’t something I enjoy. Writing proposals, pulling quotes together, sorting my accounts and raising invoices is dull. Launching into a pile of admin work when I’m likely to be suffering holiday blues isn’t my idea of fun. I want to feel excited about being back at my desk. This is why any extra bits of available time that crop up are dedicated to getting ahead on the admin side of things. Doing it before the holiday means they don’t suck up my time on my return.
4. Avoid checking your emails
This is a toughie. But if you really want a guilt free holiday, you 100% shouldn’t check your email inbox while away. I failed at this on my recent trip. I checked it three or four times and got butterflies each time before I opened it. There was a definite fear of seeing something in there that would drag me towards the nearest computer to help out a client with a quick copy fix.
Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. I’d like to think this was because I’d done tasks 1-3. But take it from me, if you want a truly guilt free holiday, keep your inbox closed for the duration of your time away.
Taking a guilt free holiday from your business comes down to planning
And communication. As long as you’re clear with your clients about time away and give them and yourself time to organise what they need sorting out before you go, then there’s no need for panic or stress. Manage the work time you have left, be realistic about how much you can fit in, prioritise essential bits and the rest will happily wait for when you get back.