HOW TO TAKE TIME OFF WHEN YOU'RE SELF-EMPLOYED
When you work for yourself, it can feel impossible to justify an entire day off — let alone a week on a beach. But freelancers are just as prone to 'burn out' as office workers (if not more so) and anyone doing a creative job needs time to reset and get inspired. If you're craving a few days out of office - but can't quite bring yourself to book a trip - here's how to get your head around summer holidays, freelance-style.
REMEMBER TO BE A GOOD BOSS (TO YOURSELF)
Imagine being employed by a boss who never approved your requests for time off, sneered when you took even a 20 minute lunch break, forced you to work when you were sick, and pressurised you to stay at your computer, long after your energy levels had begun to flag. You’d probably quit your job, right? So ask yourself why you’re treating yourself in the exact same way? (And I know you are!)
If you’re lucky enough to be your own boss, there’s no point implementing a working culture worthy of The Devil Wears Prada. Be fair, be kind, be reasonable - and remember that rest yields results in the long term.
GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF
This is an obvious tip, but one that’s easy to ignore. A month before you decide to take some time out, look ahead at your calendar and identify the big projects and commitments that are looming, then work backwards with your to-do list to make sure you’re completely up-to-date before you go. I find that it's also worth planning out the tasks you’re going to tackle in those first few days back, so as to avoid post-holiday overwhelm.
TAKE SMALLER TRIPS, MORE FREQUENTLY
Very few freelancers have the luxury of being able to afford a two-week holiday in either the financial or professional sense — but the joy of being self-employed means you don’t have to. Instead of blocking off two full weeks in the manner of a sunshine-starved 9-5er, break up your time off into smaller chunks; a long weekend here, a night at a hotel there. (Doing this means you can capitalise on last minute deals and hotel rates, which will save you money, too.) Don’t discount the power of the long weekend: It’s amazing how rejuvenating just a few days away from home can be for the body and mind.
GIVE YOURSELF 20
As much as I’d like to advocate going totally offline for a week, for most freelancers (myself included) this just isn’t feasible (or even particularly enjoyable - the stress of imagining your overflowing inbox totally negates the relaxation factor). Manage the influx by giving yourself 20 minutes each morning to review email and respond to any urgent requests. But leave that ‘Out of Office’ on!
TAKE A COMPANY RETREAT
When you work for yourself and love your work, sometimes you don’t actually want to take time off. Even so, it’s worth taking the occasional step back from the admin and distractions that can consume daily working life. If you don’t feel comfortable lying around on a beach for a week, consider the benefits of taking a company retreat (for one). Pick somewhere laidback and tranquil, take your notebook, and spend a few days regrouping and strategising for the year ahead. Just don't forget to factor in some proper relaxation time, too.