When I thought about taking a proper break for the first time in nearly two years of freelancing, I hit a lot of questions:
- Will I lose work by taking a holiday?
- What if I get offered something great and I miss it because I’m on holiday?
- Should I keep up my social media presence by buffering tweets?
- Should I schedule some blog posts to be released while I’m off?
- But then I’ll need to promote them so how do I do that if I’m on a break?
And around and around again until I got sick of listening to myself worrying about doing something that a big part of the population does all the time.
So, what was I worrying about and were there answers? There’s two big issues here – have you been thinking about them in the dead of night as well?
Work, clients, future work, money, money, money
Freelancing means you have to plan your holiday time a lot more carefully than someone who gets paid for their holiday time by their employer. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not really worth doing. Taking a proper break of at least a week allows reflection time, relaxation time, remembering you have a partner/kids/family/pets time. And, most importantly, it’s good for your health!
We seem to have a big problem with ‘being present’, whether we’re employed or self-employed. It’s what leads to people working more hours, especially in these financially difficult times when everyone worries that bit more about keeping their jobs. Being present for a freelancer can mean being available for ‘rush work’ on Christmas Eve or working long into the night or, you guessed it, never taking a holiday! Even when we do take a break, we worry that clients/future clients/the business world will forget about us if we don’t tweet or facebook about something every.single.day.
If you’re looking to holiday at home, the temptation to keep involved in the social media world is even greater as there are no pesky roaming charges to prevent you checking your phone every five minutes for emails/tweets/posts. Pretty much the whole of Paris closes down for two months over the summer, to the point where the city authorities have had to force a number of bakeries to stay open so that people (mainly tourists as Parisians have sensibly left for the summer) can buy bread – can you imagine such a thing happening in the UK or the US?
Yes Ferris, you’re absolutely right, I do need to stop and look around
To all of these worries, I’ve decided to JUST SAY NO! Even though I’m going to be spending the next two weeks at home (and heck, if you’re going to holiday at home, having a beach very close by definitely helps!), I’ve decided I’m going to treat my holiday time as though I was in the depths of a woodland, on an island, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean – in other words, somewhere where I will be cut off from my internet contact to the business world.
Because, in the end, I firmly believe that everything has a time and a place. Yes, there may be some fantastic opportunity in the next two weeks that will crop up but there will always be another opportunity in the future. You just need to have a little faith in your abilities and a bit of bravery to take some time out and breathe. Your clients are human beings and so are you – if they react badly to you taking a holiday, maybe you need to think about whether you want them as clients anymore!
I’ve let my clients know I’m taking a two week break, I’ve wrapped up work so I can take a two week break and I’ve resisted a lot of my standard marketing over the past week so that I don’t crack at the first hint of ‘I saw your email/we met last week, we’ve got this fantastic project for you and it starts next week’.
This is the first time I’ve attempted this complete break but I’m hoping it will give me the time to recharge my batteries so I can emerge from my holiday happier, healthier and ready to go for that next great opportunity that’s waiting out there.
I know not everyone is going to agree with my approach of a complete cut-off from work so let me know what you think by commenting below (or by tweeting me but be very aware that tweets will be stopping at the end of today – I have an Atlantic island to get to!).