Taking a vacation and disconnecting from everything should be the easiest task, right? As a freelancer, it’s often quite difficult to disconnect from work when you can literally take it with you everywhere.
Like all hardworking adults, you need a break from work even if you run a business that you enjoy working day in and day out. Here are some tips to help you take a break from freelance work and have a real vacation and not just a work vacation.
Schedule Your Time Off
Your first task is scheduling your time off. If you don’t schedule your vacation in, you’ll never really take one.
Scheduling your vacation during a slow period in your business would be ideal, but the bottom line is — you must schedule your vacation just like you would a meeting or a project deadline.
If you don’t, you might not ever get around to taking the time completely off.
If you know you’re going to be taking time off, the best thing you can do to help yourself out is to start working ahead on client work. As a freelancer, it’s hard to disconnect from work because when you’re not working, you don’t get paid.
Since there’s no paid time off to rely on, be sure to catch up and get ahead on as much work as possible. Try to complete your big, pesky projects or have them near completion before you leave. If you are way behind, it will be much more difficult to let your mind relax. You won’t feel carefree during your off days.
If you’re not sure about upcoming projects, be sure to communicate with your clients and tell them when you’ll be out of town and ask them if there’s anything they’ll need before you leave.
Leave Your Laptop at Home
If you’re heading out of town, consider leaving your laptop at home to avoid the temptation of checking email and working. I know this can sound risky, but you can always bring another device like a tablet with you if you if you think you’ll need it for other purposes.
Personally, I have not been able to leave home without my blankie (a.k.a. laptop). I have even been known to get up an hour early and hide in the bathroom to work. But use your highest level of control to begin to wean yourself away from your work.
It also might be a good idea to turn off email notification on your phone. Put an autoresponder up that lets people know you’re on vacation and when you’ll be back. That way, they know not to keep emailing you and that you most likely won’t respond to their message until your return.
For some freelancers, it works well to have their autoresponder ask people to please recontact you after a certain date.
Nothing is more awkward and annoying for you and everyone sitting around you than to hear that “ding” of receiving emails while you’re relaxing on the beach, at dinner, or touring a new city.
Remove Other Distractions
If you aren’t going out of town and are choosing to have a staycation instead, be sure to eliminate other distractions or temptations that could cause you to slip back into working or thinking about work while you’re trying to enjoy your vacation.
Turn your computer, laptop, and other work devices completely off. Take care of any important tasks, errands, or household chores before your vacation starts so you won’t be stuck working or running around when it’s time to relax.
It’s understandable that you may not be able to disconnect completely from your business and shut it down for several days. However, you could hire someone temporarily to manage your email inbox or perform certain tasks while you’re on vacation. That way, you won’t have to worry about it.
Summary: Focus on Preparation and Being Present
Having a successful vacation as a freelancer requires a bit more preparation than it may for the average office worker, but it’s worth it in the end. During your vacation, focus on being present. Relax and enjoying your time away from your business.
After you’ve done the hard work to prepare and work ahead, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about and everything else can wait until you return.
You’ll come back to your business refreshed and eager to be productive.