For all its perks, working from home as a parent and being one of the freelancers, has one pretty big downside: no paid time off. Sure, I can choose not to work on a particular day but my paycheck(s) reflect that later on. As we plan our FIRST official vacation as a family of six, I am busy with the normal preparation, like packing a suitcase full of children’s clothing and stocking up on extra sunscreen. Alongside those activities, I am also getting as ready as possible to walk away from my computer for 11 days and enjoy my (unpaid) time off. For other freelancers, or any small business owners, planning a vacation away from work, here are some tips to help you let go of your work-anxiety and just enjoy your time away:
Freelancers Without Stress
|My oldest and I on our first vacation|
Work ahead. Do not wait until a few days before you leave to try to stockpile your work. I started working ahead two months ago on future projects for the time I will be gone. I emailed my clients and let them know when I would be unavailable and asked them to let me know what I could complete in advance. I actually ran out of work about two weeks ago because I was so far ahead, but when I let my clients know I had a little extra time, they sent me extra work. By adding a few hours each week to my workload, I was able to cover the time I will be gone and almost make the amount of money I would normally during those 11 days away.
Warn your clients. I mentioned this in the previous point, but I want to emphasize it here. Let your clients know at least one month in advance that you will be gone, especially if it is longer than three or four days. Remind them about one week before you leave town, and then again the night before or morning that you are leaving. Give them a specific cut-off time: For example, say something like “Work
requests I receive by Monday, July 8th will be completed before I leave
on Friday, July 12.” You may still have a few clients with some last-minute requests, but at least you can have the bulk of it already done in order to accommodate the stragglers. Set up an out-of-office email message that reminds clients when you will be back on the clock.
Plan to check in. It may sound ideal to log out and swear off your email for the length of your vacation — but that plan could actually cause you more stress than serenity. Set limits for online use in advance, but give yourself some time to check your email, respond to clients and just generally check in on work stuff. I am leaving my laptop behind, but will check my email accounts early morning each day, or every other day. IF I respond to an email, I will let that person know not to expect another one for at least one day, maybe even two. I would much rather provide a quick response to a question, or correct something, throughout my vacation than to come home to emails that really needed my attention the week before. I gave up my smartphone, but if you have one, set limits on your email there too. Put your phone away, and allow yourself small windows to check and respond to emails instead.
Take business cards.You never know who you will meet while you are out of town. Be prepared to network with a professional business card and ask for one in return. Follow up with those connections once you get back home.
Remember WHY you freelance. There are many reasons to work as a freelance writer, or own a small business, but one of the top ones for parents is the flexibility to balance family and work life on their own terms. You work at home because of your kids. And your spouse. And because it is the best fit for your family. So when you get the chance to cash in on that flexibility, enjoy it! You earned your vacation. Don’t worry — your work will still be there, waiting, when you get back.
One of the freelancers? How do you vacation?
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Tags: combined family