Subject line: Leave request. Recipients: Boss (aka me), HR (me), co-workers who could pick up urgent tasks (… also me).
Freelancers, when was the last time you took a break that didn’t inevitably turn into a ‘workcation’?
Most people think that the downside to “being your own boss” as a freelancer is getting yourself to start working, but in reality, the problem is often the opposite. How do you stop?
The possible pause in income and fear of upsetting your clients can often lead to hesitation in taking an extended break from your freelance work.
As a freelancer, you’re a one-woman show; and the show must always go on! So, how can entire days off fit into this routine?
Well, they can, and they should! Freelance or not, no work justifies working 365 days a year. And freelancer or not, every working woman deserves time off for her personal and professional well-being.
So, here are 5 things that could help you take some truly unplugged time off when you’re a freelancer.
5 Tips To Taking Time Off As A Freelancer
Plan Well In Advance
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever take a spontaneous long weekend off. However, try and plan your extended breaks as far in advance as possible to really give yourself a chance to unwind during the break.
Knowing your days off in advance will help you evaluate how much work you need to complete in order to not have to work during your break. Factor it in when agreeing to projects from existing clients, and before taking on new clients. Pre-schedule anything that needs to go up online while you’re away.
Plan for your break as well as your first week back from your break. We all know how hard it can be to get back into the rhythm of a work routine when you’re still on ‘time off routine’. Give yourself a buffer period to get back into the groove of things.
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If you need to, and are able to, put in a few extra hours of work ahead of your break. This doesn’t mean you push yourself to a burnout in the pursuit of a relaxing break. Simply ensure you don’t have to try and finish a large load of work at the last minute, or worse, carry it with you into your days off.
Let Your Clients Know In Advance So They Can Plan As Well
A lot of freelancers avoid taking time off or continue to work during their time off because they worry their clients will be displeased that they’re unavailable. Being a successful freelancer is all about maintaining good relationships with your clients. Being reliable and considerate of the client’s needs is the cornerstone of this relationship for most clients.
You can avoid any conflict of interest between you and your client by giving them a heads up early on. Inform them of the exact dates during which you won’t be working or available for communication. Do this in writing so they can refer back to the dates when needed.
If your break coincides with a pre-decided deadline, make sure you schedule enough time to complete it beforehand and assure the client that they’ll get their work on time.
Letting your clients know about your break with enough time to spare will also help them plan for any projects they are going to give you, along with any gaps they need to fill while you’re away. This will ensure that they don’t get frustrated when they can’t reach you during your time off.
In addition to the advanced notice, send them a reminder about your break right before your go on leave as well.
Factor In Leaves When Calculating Your Rate
The best way to start planning for a stress-free freelance break is to start planning from the get go, while taking on a client. One of the main downsides of freelancing is that you don’t get paid leaves. So, as you continue to grow in your freelance journey, start allowing for some downtime as you set your rates.
Factor in a few sick days and around 2 weeks of ‘vacation’ leave per year. Subtract these days from the year, and you get the number of weeks you expect to be able to work.
Keep this number in mind when you calculate your hourly rates! Set your rates in a manner that your income flow makes allowance for a few days of paid leave every year.
Turn On Automated Reply On Your Email
A great way to both keep your client in the loop and ensure that you don’t keep checking your work emails is to set up an automated reply right before you go on break.
Most email platforms have an auto-responding option today. Gmail even has a specific ‘vacation responder’ that you can turn on.
Here’s a template you could use for the message in your auto-response!
I’m taking some time off from my work from [date, day] to [date, day].
If you’re facing an emergency, you can get in touch with me at [your number]. Otherwise, I will get back to you by [date]!
Thank you for your understanding and patience. I look forward to connecting with you when I’m back!
Pre-Schedule Your Personal Content
Your presence online is your best friend as a freelancer, and it shouldn’t have to fall off the face of the earth when you do.
What do you regularly do to build your brand and market yourself as a freelancer? Regular blogs? Social media posts? YouTube videos?
Create and schedule this content beforehand. Continue to market yourself and your business during your absence.
This will ensure that you can stand still and relax for a bit, while your freelance business doesn’t lose momentum.
So, freelancer, sign off on that leave you’ve requested for yourself, and take that much-deserved break! You’ll come back recharged and ready to take on work like never before.
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