You’re looking over your plans for the upcoming summer and you want a week or two away from work to spend with your family or with your friends. That is a reasonable desire and a goal every freelancer should pursue. After all, it isn’t just about work — or is it?
This year, we’re planning a summer break that will give me a just over a week off from work. I’ve been planning this vacay for several months and as I get closer to my time off, there are several things I’m doing ahead of time to ensure that I won’t be working later. Lets take a look at how you can prepare for your summer vacation.
Notify your clients — Assuming you have a good, working relationship with one or more long-term clients, you’ll need to inform each one about your plans. You’re self-employed, thus you aren’t required to “put in” for time off company-employed workers. As a courtesy, however, you’ll let your clients know when you won’t be around and when you’ll be back at work.
Work ahead of schedule — For people who blog or write content daily, you’ll need to keep the fires burning while away. My clients allow me to write my articles in advance and set them up to publish automatically at a prescribed hour. Although my break is still months away, I’ve already begun to write in advance and put those articles in the queue.
Ask for help — I’ve learned from some freelancers about their personal struggle with letting go while on the road. I’m not saying “leave the laptop at home,” but you can minimize your online time by asking others to step in while you’re gone. This might include having someone tweet your articles or post an update to Facebook on your behalf. If you have WordPress, then you can automate some of these steps, to ensure that your social media presence doesn’t go dark for too long.
Set boundaries — A clingy client can be the hardest to convince that you need some time off. This is especially hard if one or more expects you to be available by email, text message or by phone at the drop of a hat. My best advice here is for you to reassure your client that you’ll be back at work on such a date and time. If you can stomach interaction while away, then set aside 15 minutes and no more during your vacation to place one call to your client. Don’t do any work and resist elevating a common problem into something urgent by tackling a job that clearly can wait until you return.
When I hit the road, I do take my laptop and cell phone with me. The laptop allows me to check that my sites are up and running; the cell phone is for emergencies only. For email, a once daily check is sufficient, but if you truly want to give your work a rest, then auto-responders are the only way to go!