The irony about freelancing is that although there’s the element of creating your own schedule, it can actually be more time-consuming than a “traditional” job – if there’s no work, there’s no paycheck. So, when work is actually available, it’s understandable if there’s the motivation to work longer hours and divide time between multiple gigs. The same goes for if you’re a freelancer whose business is more retail-centered. If you’re not meeting your sales goals, then chances are you’re working double-time for the sake of marketing and networking.
However, the time does come when it’s necessary, for the sake of mental and physical health, to take a vacation. A vacation, in the purest sense of the word, is a time to relax and rejuvenate, and you can’t do that if you’re worrying the whole time! There are several ways in which you can step away from work without sacrificing the current or potential success of your freelancing business.
Delegate tasks to those you trust. Generally, freelancing can be more of a solitary sort of career, but if you happen to be in a business partnership, that partner should naturally be the point person while you’re away. Any questions that clients or customers have which only you could answer would have to wait until you return. Just like with non-business tasks, make sure your mail is either held by the post office, or collected and placed in one spot (preferably by date, oldest to newest). Thanks to software such as QuickBooks, any financial transactions should proceed as usual. As for electronic communications, there are a few choices you could make…
Evaluate automated away messages. Autoresponders and away/vacation messages are two efficient ways to keep things running. However, they’re only as efficient as the text you assign to them. Instead of basic, “I will be away until next Monday, please allow up to a week for an email response” sorts of messages, make things more immersive by directing visitors to a FAQ page, or even selected blog posts/articles/product links. Although this is more easily done through email, you can also record a voice message directing people to specified aspects of your business accordingly.
Leave room for some communication. Yes, the ideal vacation is one in which you’re completely removed from “all things work,” but sometimes there are those little hiccups that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Set aside a small block of time once or twice during your vacation (once per week on average) during which clients can touch base with you. Make sure, however, that you set boundaries regarding this. Consider creating a Google spreadsheet on which grievances can be recorded that are only of the utmost necessity, and address each in turn.
Pace yourself in the planning. The amount of planning you do in preparation for a vacation will most likely be directly proportionate to the usual aspects of how far away you’ll be going, and for how long. Although spontaneous vacations can be the most adventurous, they can also result in hasty decisions that might be detrimental to your freelancing business – things might be forgotten, projects unsatisfactorily completed, etc.
However, if you schedule your work around a vacation that will be a couple of months or more away, then not only will you have the necessary time to gradually plan things, you’ll be happier and feel more confident that your vacation will be everything that a vacation should be. Then, you can return more ready than ever to take on the freelancing world with lots of success.
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