Planning Vacation & Time Off When Self-Employed

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“Self-care” seems to be a pretty big buzzword these days but it is truly oh-so important when it comes to taking care of yourself! If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this episode of the Biz Birthday Bash podcast, we talked about the importance of self-care, especially when you’re a business owner! As our friend Taryn, from Twinkle and Toast, said on the episode, “As a business owner, YOU are the most important tool, so it’s important to make sure you’re in tip-top shape.”

Which brings us to the topic of planning some much needed time off or vacation when you’re self-employed!

There’s a common misconception that the self-employed professional or biz owner can take off whenever they please or take work with them, overall, combining business and pleasure as a luxury traditionally employed folks don’t have. But I hate to break it to you: this is a big ole myth. 

With time and technology at your fingertips, you’re busy trying to take advantage of every second you have to make your clients happy. And when your office is also your home, finding a point to put down the computer and walk away slowly is super difficult. Whether you’re getting started or are established, your working hours can vary wildly, and that’s a boatload of stress that needs to take a dive off a short pier.

Self-employed professionals shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time off or a vacation with their family and friends, but how do you do that when you work for yourself? If you are your worst critic (and we all are), then chances are, the most demanding boss you’ll have is yourself. You can’t just drop your projects, type an email that says, “Peace, I’m out” and expect the world to keep spinning while you’re gone.

The answer lies in accountability, transparency, and follow-through on a well-thought-out plan — and just doing it because you need and deserve the time. So, whether you’ve been in the game for a while, or just getting into the swing of things, here’s a few steps for planning time off:

give yourself permission to take a break

First off, we ALL need to work on this mindset that hard work ethic equals working yourself to burnout and an early grave. How long ago was your last vacation or day off? Did you enjoy it, or did you spend time thinking about work? Or worst of all, did you spend your time buried in a phone or computer?

A fresh mindset, perspective and spirit is beneficial not only to you, but to your clients. As we mentioned before - the most important tool is yourself and you’re worth investing in. Give yourself some grace, and make a plan to take time away.

work and plan ahead of schedule

If you have time off or a vacation coming up, sit down and make a list of all of the tasks that would need to be accomplished during your vacation time. Then, gather these tasks up and complete them beforehand. Whether this is a blog that needs to go up, a completed project and something for a client to review, plan ahead so you don’t have to worry about deadlines or leaving someone hanging.

Personally, we’ll always try and coordinate a client review with any time off or vacation and let them know they have a couple of extra days to complete their deliverable.

give your clients a heads up

If you’re going to be out of town or off the grid - give your clients a heads up! Whether it’s a temporary line in your signature that says “Hey! I’ll be on vacation/away during [insert timeframe],” or shooting them an email a couple weeks ahead of time, consider this your vacation notice.

Chances are they’ll be supportive of your time with family and be ready to rock when you get back home. Or it might be a good nudge to get the feedback you’ve been waiting on for those straggler clients.

However, if you do get the nervous or anxious client who needs a little bit more time to prepare for your absence, maybe give them a little more notice than the others. And you know which client we’re talking about :)

do your best to fully unplug from work!

The purpose of the first three steps might be null and void if you’re still working while you’re on vacation. So while we would recommend for you to leave the computer behind, or the phone in the house while you’re at the beach - if you really just can’t, that’s okay!

If you can’t fully unplug while you’re on vacation or don’t have someone to keep an eye on email for you, plan for a quick 30 minutes each morning while you’re sipping on some coffee to take a quick peek and reassure yourself that the world isn’t ending. But that’s it! Don’t spend your time off buried in your computer while everyone is splashing in the waves, riding a rollercoaster or hiking a mountain.

It also doesn’t do you any good if you’re distracted by all of the “what if’s” in your head, so if you need to take a peek each day to relieve your anxiety, we won’t tell anyone.

Let’s face it, taking time off when you’re self-employed can feel worse than requesting time away as a traditional employee because you need your own permission. Take it — you need to relax and grow, and besides, you’ll improve your creativity and productivity when the batteries are recharged!

It turns out you have nothing to lose unless you keep sitting at your desk. So, break out the suitcase and do more than daydream and hit the road with the people you love!

Create a “To-Do” list of items that will need to be completed when you get home

If you’re anything like me, you love lists and getting things done! Sometimes it gives me peace of mind to make a list of things I need to get done as soon as a get home from vacation — that way I have a strategy for jumping back into work without feeling completely lost. It’s also a good idea to give yourself a “buffer day” after coming home, especially if it was a long vacation! This buffer day is a perfect day for doing laundry, unpacking, grocery shopping, and allowing yourself to adjust before hopping directly back into work.

Hopefully these tips were helpful if you’re planning on going out of town & leaving your baby biz behind for a few days or a few weeks!