Taking a break as a freelancer

In December 2015 we were staying in a beautiful small barn conversion in Yorkshire. It was an end of year break to celebrate Ryan's birthday and to unwind a little before Christmas. It was cold, foggy and grey outside, but just the rest we needed. 

For years we had talked about a bigger holiday. Envious of friends who had travelled more than us in their younger years between uni and starting careers. And we knew that we should just do it. Having both recently quit our jobs to work for ourselves, the thought of more than a long weekend away from home and work was a risky prospect 

But on a cold wintery afternoon we booked our flights out to South East Asia for October 2016. 11 months seemed like forever away but it soon came around fast, and as it turned out was the perfect way to motivate myself for a successful and happy year. 

Knowing I was going to be taking almost 2 months off at the end of the year was the drive I needed to really work hard in the months before.  I focussed on growing my freelance business and continuing to build relationships with my clients. That didn't mean working all hours and every day, but forced me to look at my processes and productivity. 

2016 was a year of working harder than ever before, but also enjoying life more than ever before. Our holiday was the most amazing experience I have ever had, I feel so lucky and fortunate to have had such a good year, especially as it has been a difficult one for so many people close to me. I have returned with energy and enthusiasm and a renewed focus on the importance of just switching off. 

Here's our travel blog which documents our adventure:  http://travel.lisaandryan.co/

My tips for taking a longer break as a freelancer

- Let your clients know your plans as early as possible

I have quite a few client retainers, so keeping them in the loop was vital. I gave them plenty of notice and agreed what projects were priority before I went and what could be left until I returned...surprisingly no one had a problem with me going away. 

- Back up everything before you go

I'm notoriously rubbish at file organisation, so before holiday I really focussed on tidying up my files and making sure all my back ups were up to date, that way I could relax knowing everything was safe for my return

- Build a network of other freelancers

Being able to outsource some of my ongoing projects to other freelancers was great, it meant my clients were happy and supported in my absence and it meant I was sharing work with others. Now I can always return the favour when they need a holiday. 

- Don't take on too much work before you go

The temptation is to cram as much work in before a holiday as possible, I made sure in the two months before I didn't take anything new on, and just focussed on completing existing projects well. 

- Switch your out of office on early

There's a temptation to be working or available right up until you board the plane. This is stressful, and so I made the decision to switch on my out of office two days before I left. This gave me time to switch off from work and to focus on any last minute tasks that needed completing. 

- Be honest about what you can do

I travelled with my laptop, and initially planned to take some work away with me... instead I let clients know that the only work I would be doing whilst I was away was emergencies. As such my holiday was pretty much work free, having that real break from screens was so good for my health and happiness.

- Just do it

As with most things in life, there's never the perfect time. Have the courage to give yourself the rest and relaxation you deserve. Book a holiday or time off in your calendar, once it's set it stone, you'll make it work.  You can always get more projects and more money, but never more time to enjoy life. 

Lisa BarrettComment