By Allison VanNest of Grammarly.com
When was the last time you had a vacation—or even a day off?
Freelancers are notorious for never taking time to rest, relax, and recharge. Many of us chose to work for ourselves because of the flexibility and freedom that freelancing offers, so why do we find it so hard to take time off?
Read on to find out how to make a vacation work for you!
Save a Little from Each Paycheck
The first hurdle for freelancers who want to take time off is figuring out how to pay for it. Traditional employees accrue paid time off so that they don’t have to choose between a vacation and their paycheck. Freelancers don’t have the same luxury, so commit to putting a little back from each job in a special savings account.
Get Ahead of Deadlines
Freelance writer Halina Zakowicz recommends accruing “paid work off” by doing some of next week’s work now. She says that by doing 25% of your assignments for next week ahead of time, you’ll quickly build up a buffer that allows you take time off.
Ask a Colleague to Pitch In
If you have recurring assignments that can’t be rescheduled or done in advance, check in with your network to see if any of your colleagues can cover the work while you’re gone. “This is commonly referred to as ‘outsourcing’ or ‘overflow’ on writing forums,” according to the folks over at WriterAccess, “and it is only unethical if the client doesn’t know what you’re doing.”
Write and Schedule Posts for Your Blog
If you have a blog you regularly update—and you really should—then you might be worried about losing momentum when you go on vacation. Instead of blogging poolside, leave your laptop at home and simply write and schedule posts before you leave. Blogging platforms like WordPress allow you to schedule drafts to be published at any time in the future, so create enough material to cover your time away and then let the system handle the rest.
Let Your Clients Know in Advance
Once you’ve got the details of your vacation figured out, tell your clients what your plans are. Let them know when you’re leaving, when you’re coming back, and what kind of connectivity (if any) you plan to maintain. “I always give myself a one day buffer on either side of my vacation for preparation and re-entry into reality,” says freelancer April Greer.
Announce Your Unavailability
Now that you’ve told your current clients that you’ll be on vacation, you should also set up auto responders to make sure that anyone else who tries to contact you about work gets the message. Create an “out of office” response for your primary work email and put a notice on your social media accounts to let people know you’ll be out of town.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
Depending on the volume of correspondence you deal with, you might consider hiring a virtual assistant. As a writer, you’ll want to make sure you hire a VA with top-notch grammar standards (or at least someone who proofreads emails before hitting “send”).
Learn to Escape the “Busy Trap”
Tim Kreider, writing for the New York Times, lamented the culture of busyness that has so many of us feeling worn out. Kreider found that in most cases, the people who claimed to be the busiest were those who had voluntarily taken on more responsibilities than they could handle. “They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”
If you’re addicted to busyness, then taking a vacation may be a challenge. As James Chartrand of Men With Pens recommends, “Start telling yourself, ‘I’m not the centre of the universe.’” Your business is not going to completely fall apart if you take a week or two—or more!—off to recharge your batteries. In fact, going on vacation might be the best thing you can do for your freelance career!
About the Author: A self-proclaimed word nerd, Allison VanNest works with Grammarly to help perfect written English. Connect with Allie, the Grammarly team, and more than ONE MILLION Grammarly Facebook fans at www.facebook.com/grammarly.
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