As freelancers and entrepreneurs, we often treat our struggles like war wounds. We share our stories about bad clients and wasted vacations, earning laughs and newfound respect from those who have been there before, or experienced something similar.
Because we can all relate, however, we also know which parts of the story go unspoken. The lost income. Stress-filled nights. Tears of frustration. Missed memories. Self-recrimination.
We always resolve to do better next time, but it’s all too easy to slip into old patterns.
There are many areas of freelancing that can prompt these experiences, but I’m going to focus on the one that came up on this week’s episode of the Hectic Podcast.
Darryl and Michelle spoke to Yann Ilunga, freelance veteran and podcaster extraordinaire. At the start of the conversation, the group spent a good bit of time talking about the trip Yann had just taken.
His first unplugged, work-free vacation.
As he shared in the episode, Yann learned a lot from this trip. It wasn’t perfect, but it did restore and refresh him, providing the rest he needed to bring his A-game when he returned.
Like Yann, I’ve always struggled to set work aside during vacations. Heck, it’s sometimes hard to put it away for the weekend.
During my freelancing career, I’ve learned a lot about taking time off. I don’t always apply these lessons well, but I’m learning to do better. With this blog, I thought I’d also share some of these insights to help others do the same.
As the holidays approach and clients feel the pressure of end-of-the-year deadlines, I hope you can use these tips to get the rest you need to do your best in every area of your life.
Sometimes bad clients will expect you to be on-call and available whenever they want you, even if you’re on vacation.
Generally, however, clients respect your boundaries—as long as you communicate them.
If you don’t tell your clients that you are going on vacation or that you’re out of the office, you can’t blame them for assuming that you’re available. Make sure you tell current clients that you’re going to be gone, with a few weeks’ notice if you can. An automated out-of-office email is a great way to handle any new requests while you’re out.
Additionally, tell clients how you handle business stuff when you’re on vacation. Will you be checking or replying to emails? Will you take calls? We recommend a full unplug for a restful trip, but that might not be your style.
Whatever you choose, stick to your boundaries. If you say you’re offline, but spend the whole trip responding to emails, you can’t blame your clients for replying back.
I once had a client who went silent the week before my vacation. I couldn’t wrap up the project as planned and had to leave it unfinished when I left.
Then he messaged me two days into the trip. I should’ve made him wait until I got back, but I didn’t. I sacrificed my time to make up for his mistakes.
Freelancers and entrepreneurs don’t get PTO. When you spend your vacations putting out fires, you waste the money you spent, the income you didn’t make, and the time you could’ve spent with loved ones.
As long as you’ve met your deadlines, your clients don’t have any needs that require your immediate attention. Like Yann said, you’re not a surgeon and no one’s going to die if you don’t check your work email.
Taking time off is hard for freelancers. Vacations mean taking your eyes off your business, potentially saying no to projects, and being okay with not making money for an extended period of time.
But every time we deny ourselves a break, we lose an opportunity to recover from the marathon of running your own business.
Without space, rest, and replenishment, you can’t sustain growth. You won’t have the capacity to grow and improve the way you need to.
Prioritizing your well-being, however, sets you up for greater results over a longer period of time. You will be sharp and ready for every new adventure, no matter what it might be.
As you make your mark on the world, don’t overlook your own needs. Learn to care for yourself so you can enjoy every step of your incredible journey.
Get the full story here to discover who Yann is, how he’s built a name in the podcasting world, and what he recommends for a restful vacation.
Find Yann through LinkedIn to grow your professional network as you learn more from him. Just be sure to mention that you heard him on the Hectic Podcast when you reach out!