Even Freelancers Should Take a Vacation

I don't know about you, but my social media feeds are filled with photos of historical reenactments, dripping ice cream cones, dogs and children frolicking on beaches, and manicured toes near sunny pools. You can almost smell the chlorine. It is officially primetime vacation season.

But if you're one of the 53 million Americans who calls yourself a freelancer, the word "vacation" can fill you with panic. After all, there is no paid vacation. As a freelancer, if you're not working, you're not getting paid. What if your clients need you? What if you miss out on some new great opportunity?

Everyone needs a break to recharge and refresh. Both employees and managers understand that taking time off is important to happiness, productivity, and job satisfaction. But what about independent workers? Does being a freelancer mean that we have to forgo vacations forever?

I've been freelancing since October and so far, I've taking two vacations - a six-day winter break and an 18-day haul halfway around the world. Guess what? My clients were o.k.  Here's three ways to make it work:


Prepare Your Clients

Communicating your vacation schedule and availability to your clients is one of the most important parts of vacation preparation. Although you don’t have to ask permission to take time off, you don’t want to just drop off the face of the earth either. Let them know the dates you’ll be gone, whether you’ll be reachable, and the status of your assignments. Also, setup an out-of-office message so any new clients or forgetful existing ones know you’re away and not ignoring them.

Plan Ahead

Good planning helps avoid any hiccups or disappointments and reassures clients that you’re not going to drop the ball. Complete and deliver any work due during your vacations beforehand.

Get Back to Work

Speaking of getting back…Before you leave on vacation, try to line up a couple of projects with deadlines after your vacation so you can hit the ground running. Make a plan for what your work schedule is going to look like for the week you get back. Did you accept any new assignments before you left? Do you have any deadlines to meet? Are there any revisions that came in while you were gone? Planning out your post-vacation work schedule will help you dive back in, no matter how sun-soaked and relaxed you might be.

While I was on vacation, I spent time thinking about current projects and future goals. While devouring whatever regional pastry happened to cross my path each morning, I was also coming up with new ways of better serving my clients. I wasn’t just contemplating the tourist-packed town square in front of me—I was formulating new story ideas.

That’s the beauty of vacation. It provides the free time to let your mind wander and creativity flow. I came back from my each of my trips energized, reinvigorated, and ready to work (and replenish my vacation-ravaged bank account).

Don’t be afraid, freelancers. Take some time off.

July 23, 2015