Before revealing how it is possible to go on vacation as a freelancer, I’d like to start by telling you about my professional experience.
Along my work life at multinational companies, only once I managed to go on a 30-day vacation.
However, I’ve used that long period to focus on studying. It was December 2003 and my company had just informed me that I would be relocated to their branch office in Toronto, Canada, for the following year.
I got a bit freaked out at the time, so my boss and I agreed that I should travel there a bit earlier (thanks, Eduardo Marqués!) and spend a month in Toronto, in order to study and get used to the language, the culture and the city.
I don’t remember being far from work that long before…
According to surveys held by ISMA-BR, local representative of International Stress Management Association, between five to eight consecutive days is the average rest time of self-employed professionals.
I’ve brought my experience as corporate manager to my current lifestyle –a full-time freelancer. I know that with a good planning it is possible to go on vacation. Each professional will determine for how long, but whether it’s 10, 15 or 30 days that you’re away, the same tips apply!
In my opinion, if you take good advantage of it, spending one week away might be better than one whole month.
Freelancing is growing steadily around the world. I think that many of the readers and freelancers registered with Workana platform find it difficult to go on a vacation, so I’d like to share my experience with you.
1. Plan every detail and be strategic!
If you don’t get well organized, going on a vacation might be very stressful, like having to do things in a rush before you can take a break, and then coming back home and working really hard to catch up with all your pending stuff.
This is the result of lack of planning. Ideally, you should create a routine and get organized to find when to do a break in the same period of the year.
For someone having a child, like I do, it’s useless to get organized to go on vacation in September, because it won’t work. In my case, the best is taking a break either in January or in July, during school vacation period.
Don’t leave any important appointment for the days just before your vacation –take the time to double-check if everything is settled and organized upon your departure.
Another important aspect you have to check out is setting an automatic out-of-the-office notification, so that people don’t think you’re ignoring their messages, for instance. And this is something I’d like to address in the following point.
2. Let your clients know
It seems obvious, but we might sometimes skip the simplest details.
It’s very important to let your clients know in advance that you’ll be out on vacation. Ask them if there’s anything they might need or you might help them with in advance. The same is valid for clients who are still amidst a negotiation process with you.
You can be certain that they’ll love your level of organization and the fact that you’re contacting them to let them know. In the end, this will contribute to a way to gain their loyalty by showing your professionalism to them.
Tip: After your first communication, send an email about 15 days before your break and ask them whether there’s anything that needs to be completed before you leave, any detail that needs to be solved. Don’t leave it to the last minute!
This is a model email I’ve developed to send to my clients and let them know I’m leaving on vacation:
“Hi [CLIENT NAME],
I’m getting ready for my vacation between XX and XX of XXXX.
Along the above-mentioned period I won’t have access to my emails, probably with no internet connection. However, I’ve been working in advance to leave all of our projects up-to-date, with a good planning ahead so that nothing gets affected during my absence. I’ll send you a reminder about this a few days before my departure.
Besides, I’d like to know whether there’s any pending material which needs to be settled between us. All your posts and articles will be included in my planning.
For immediate support, you can contact JOHN DOE, copied in this email. Closer to my departure date, I’ll send you all his contact details.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.“
These are the most important points your clients have to be told:
- How long you’ll be out of the office
- Whether you’ll have an internet connection or not
- Confidence that it won’t impact on your work
- Information about a backup contact
A good customer care is also essential in the life of a freelancer.
3. Make your own rules
A professional freelancer knows well how stressful a day might get due to a heavy burden of pending assignments. Going on vacation and having a break for a few days will do you good!
So it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Will I be available on my inbox?
- Will my phone be on?
- Will there be chance to reach me in case of emergency?
Today, technology makes it very easy be connected. Establishing some rules before you go on vacation will be important! Believe me! Think about what’s best for you and for your business! Do you really want to be completely unavailable? Is this even possible?
Besides, as your vacations draw closer, don’t take on any extra assignment or just stick to more specific projects which won’t interfere in your schedule of activities. When finding new projects, check which can be included in your calendar.
4. Define a contact person
In order to succeed in your vacation, it’s important to have a defined contact person to be your backup. Talk to a colleague working on the same field as you do.
I’m confident that it won’t be hard to find someone who can help you out during a few days in case of emergency –after all, one day your colleague might also be in need of your help.
The chosen professional will have to answer on your behalf. Beyond any doubt, it has to be someone skillful, someone you can trust.
5. Get ready financially
If you have fixed clients, like I do, and you work on long projects, going on vacation will have a lesser financial impact for you –though that will exclusively depend on a good planning and organization.
But if your work is usually related to specific projects, you’d better get well organized before you think of going on vacation. As soon as you leave, your income will be reduced. In this case it’s important to save some money monthly for this eventuality.
Along the year, you should make a financial planning. My suggestion is to save from 4 to 6% of your profits with each project you undertake, on a separate account, and avoid the temptation to touch the money on that savings account, which is exclusive for your vacation.
Define the date to go on vacation as much in advance as possible, both to afford for the trip and also to save enough to be able to spend and to pay your bills on your return.
Don’t forget to keep some money on your bank account: you can do that all along the year. Calculate the monthly percentage that best fits your planning and keep on working on that objective month after month.
The great advantage of
being a freelancer registered at Workana is counting on pre-defined delivery
dates. With free plans you get your money once a month and with Plan Plus you can also withdraw your money quarterly or
6. Your return
You’ve already travelled, you have rested, you’ve disconnected from everything… and now it’s time to go back to reality. Make sure to reserve your first day upon your return to check your inbox and answer emails, to see if your plans have worked as you expected and to organize your calendar.
Let your clients know you’re back.
If you’ve left everything well organized and planned before your vacation, your return to work won’t be complicated. Contact your colleague who’s been left as your backup during that period and catch up with the news.
If you’ve come this far, you might be considering going on vacation and staying away from work for a few days.
My planning to go on vacation today as a professional freelancer is not too different from the days when I was a employee. Just like it used to be in the past, I still believe that 30 days is actually too long for a vacation so I usually go away shorter periods.
The only sensitive point is the situation of having a colleague to refer your work to. Within a company, you have a boss, a workmate or even a secretary.
Besides the countless benefits for your health and productivity given by leisure time, remember why you’ve become a freelancer: being free and enjoying life the way you want to.
To sum up: you deserve to go on vacations. Plan them in advance, let your clients know and make the most of your time. That will have a direct impact on the efficacy of your freelance work.
Keep in mind that the key to planning your vacations is being organized and self-confident. Don’t be afraid of losing your clients. If you’ve done a good job along the year, spending some days away won’t be the reason to stop working with you.
And how long has it been since you last got organized to go on vacation?