The theory of self employment goes something like this: “I’m my own boss! I can do whatever I want! I can go on holiday at the drop of a hat and no-one can stop me!”
The reality, though, can feel a bit more like this: “Oh my god, I can never take a holiday, my business will fall to pieces if I’m away from my desk for more than 24 hours!”
Well, that’s not true. If you’ve built a strong business, it won’t fall apart if you leave it alone for long enough to go on holiday. Not only that, but taking a break – a proper one, not a “typing on your laptop while sitting by the pool” holiday – is vital for your mental health, physical wellness, and long-term success.
Want to know how to take a proper holiday when you’re self employed? Read on.
While the idea of taking off on a spontaneous trip might be nice, the reality isn’t that easy for most of us. If you can, great! But if not, you can take a proper break by planning ahead.
Pick your dates, and work out what needs to be done before you go away. Then put a plan in place to make that happen. You should also notify your clients as soon as you’ve confirmed the dates you’ll be away. This gives them time to work with you on any urgent projects that need completing before you go.
Pro tip: never be apologetic about it! I can guarantee you that your clients take holidays. No reasonable client expects you to be available 24/7/365. Just send them an email saying “just wanted to notify you I’ll be travelling from [date] to [date] and won’t be working in that period. Please let me know if there’s anything we need to put in place for [project] before I go.”
Automate anything you can automate
Is your monthly e-newsletter due the week you’re away? Schedule it in advance! Same with blog posts, social media posts, and email marketing sequences. Anything that can possibly be automated or scheduled in advance, should be. If it can’t be, either do it before you go or pause it until you get back.
Switch off completely
If you have separate work and personal phones, leave your work device at home. If not, at least turn off all work-related notifications for the duration of your holiday. Checking a few emails here and there or posting on social media might not seem like a big deal, but it will significantly undermine your ability to fully switch off.
To get the full benefit of a holiday, you need to get away from work entirely for a bit. So automate what you can, front-load anything that can’t wait, and then switch your damn phone off and your out-of-office autoresponder on. Seriously.
Hire people you trust
If you have a business partner or other people working for you, this makes your life somewhat easier. Presumably you’ve hired people you trust, so this is the time to step back and trust them to do their jobs. They’ll be absolutely fine without you while you enjoy your break, I promise.
This can be a little harder if your business is just you. But if the idea of leaving it alone for a week or two feels impossible, why not hire a freelance social media manager to keep an eye on your channels, or a virtual assistant to manage your email inbox while you’re gone, or whoever else you can outsource essential tasks to?
Treat yourself like you would your employees
Presumably your employees are entitled to a certain amount of paid holiday time per year, and you wouldn’t ask them to keep half an eye on work while they were gone? Well, treat yourself the same way! You work as hard as anyone else, and you deserve some time off just as much as they do.
If you’re internally beating yourself up over stepping away from work, ask yourself “would I speak to my employee like this if they wanted to take a holiday?” If you’re a decent employer, you certainly wouldn’t. So don’t treat yourself that way, either.
Taking a holiday in the time of COVID
It might be difficult or impossible to actually get away right now. Travel bans are still in place and people all over the world are cancelling or postponing trips.
Of course, you might still be able to take a holiday within your own country or region. But even if you can’t leave your home, it’s important to take some time off. A staycation is still a holiday! So even if you can’t jet off somewhere, plan some holiday and make sure you take it. Even if all you do is lie on the sofa and watch Netflix, you’re still getting away from work and recuperating.
Stop worrying and take a holiday!
Seriously. You deserve it. Your business is strong and it will take a lot more than you having a few days off to bring it down.
Enjoy your time off!