Freelancing: guilt-free getaways
Now the holidays are over and we’re now back into full swing, let’s talk about taking time off when you’re self-employed.
When some people think of freelancers they picture someone stowed away a cosy corner of an artisan coffee shop tapping away at their laptop for a few hours before packing up and heading home to Instagram about their working day. I can’t speak on behalf of all freelancers, but my day is rarely that blissful – things go wrong, deadlines get moved forward and software doesn’t always behave (not cool, Adobe!)
Life’s not always a beach
When I was taking the leap to self-employment I read a lot about how entrepreneurs worked around the clock and I thought I wouldn’t be successful unless I worked every waking hour: 1 in 4 UK freelancers take an annual holiday and those who do go on holiday – 45% of them take their work with them. I personally don’t need 2-3 weeks in the sunshine as I’d much prefer to have a staycation here on the Isle of Man and catch up with friends and family, or a weekend trip away from time-to-time. My husband is also self-employed and we’re on the same page because the idea of sitting by the beach for a week or two would drive us to distraction, a quick getaway is enough for us!
Based on the articles I read about entrepreneurship and working 24/7 I included weekends within my work week to avoid disappointing clients or seeming ‘unreliable’ but I soon found I was burning out and my standard of work was slipping. Surely customers would rather quality work than some rushed garbage? I stopped working weekends, and guess what, the earth didn’t implode!
In my opinion just because you’re not constantly working doesn’t make you unproductive. Any business owner will tell you it does take a lot of time and effort to keep things running smoothly. Some days are harder than others – shutting the laptop and going straight to bed because it’s 1 am, or ticking the final thing off my to-do list in time for the 4:30 pm dog walk. It’s a balancing act and the variety is what makes working for yourself so addictive.
Don’t be a Houdini
We’re freelancers and work to our own schedules but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to plan ahead like any other business – you can’t disappear in the midst of a project and presume your out of office email will be well received. Be courteous to your clients, you can take two weeks off but, just be logical and try to plan projects around your holiday to avoid missing deadlines or project proposals. You’d be frustrated if you were getting a new bathroom fitted and the plumber jetted off to Venice without giving you any notice!
Treat yo’ self!
There are many reasons we set up our own business – I have 101 reasons why and one of which was the fact I could live my life to my own beat, so it doesn’t seem fair that we’re tied down by freelancing and putting off holidays. Is it worth all the stress if you don’t get time off? With that thought in mind, it may be easier to stay employed!
We’re all entitled to a break, it just takes planning and a fair warning to your customers. Two weeks off at Christmas really sets me up to get going in the new year. Before checking in to January I set aside one day to catch up on emails and up-coming projects so I know what’s what, and it makes all the difference.
Here’s to a balanced 2019!
Words: Jennifer Wood