As a freelancer, it is so easy to stay connected ALL THE TIME.
Even on vacation, we often take our laptops or check emails every time we have signal.
But taking a break from work is normal — and really good for your mental health and general well-being.
While some businesses slow down naturally around the holidays (like general office work, sales, etc.), some speed up (seasonal stuff, hiring prep for after the new year, etc.).
But when you run your own business, any change — good or bad — can trigger negative emotions and stress.
And time off is imperative to keep going and staying happy and healthy.
So, how can you prepare your business (and yourself) for time off?
While it is weird to think you can just turn off your phone and computer for two weeks and come back like nothing happened, you CAN.
You just have to prep for it first.
When I am going on a real vacation — as in, not bringing my laptop and with no intention of checking work emails — I start by planning ahead.
About a month before my vacation, I email all of my clients to let them know the dates I will be away.
I let them know that anything with deadlines prior to the vacation will still be met and inform them of how and when I’ll be sending invoices and anticipating payment. I also let them know that I will not be available or responding to calls and emails in that time.
I then ask if there is anything they know they’ll need during that time — so that I can make a plan to either get it done ahead of time or find someone else to do it while I’m gone.
Since I do regular check-in calls with clients, I remind them about the dates I’ll be gone starting about two weeks ahead of time.
About 2–3 business days before I leave for vacation, I send a quick reminder email to all clients that I will be gone and unavailable and reiterate the dates.
Then, finally, starting at the end of the business day the evening before I leave for vacation, I set an out-of-office email message, block out my calendar, and turn off all available dates on my Calendly (an appointment-setting tool).
Then, I go on my work-free, guilt-free vacation!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with going on vacation — even as a business owner or freelancer.
Here are my tips for having a stress-free, guilt-free vacation:
- Remind yourself that you are allowed to have time off. You don’t get angry when you clients take a vacation, and not one is mad at you or disappointed in you for doing it, either.
- If you DO happen to have a client who kicked off, really think about if that is the type of person you want to be doing business with.
- Pause your Slack notifications, email notifications, etc. Or put your phone on do not disturb!
- Remember that you are at your best when you are rested, relaxed, and ready to work. You deserve a vacation and need one to be at your best for your business.
- Give yourself grace — it takes time to stop thinking about work when you’re always connected.
- Tell your partner/travel buddy that you want to go completely work free, and let them remind you of that when you think about sneaking a look at your emails when you stop for coffee.
- Enjoy yourself!
Just remember, there is not going to be some writing emergency that will burn down the Amazon while you’re gone.
You MUST have time away from work and clients to be mentally and even physically healthy!