I have a vacation scheduled in a few months and I have to admit that I’m already starting to sweat when I think about taking the time off.
In the past, I used to look forward to my time away from work. I could step out of the office without a care in the world because I knew that someone else would cover for me while I was gone. Plus, I was still getting paid, so why not get out for a few days?
But now that I am a one-person business, taking a vacation means that my work will pile up, with my clients awaiting my return to get them the content they need to build and grow their own businesses. And I will be forfeiting any income I could make that week. How am I supposed to relax when all I can envision is my money goals slipping away?
This internal dilemma has caused me to do a lot of soul searching (and internet searching) in an attempt to find ways to take time off, yet still enjoy myself in the process. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Save Ahead of Time
Since I know that I’ll be having an income-free week, one way I can still pay my bills while taking time off is to save in advance. I do a budget to see how much money I’ll need to cover that week and set it aside. That way, I can go and have fun without the worry of what I’m doing to my bank account.
For example, if you know that your share of the bills is around $2,000 per month, you’ll need to set aside $500 to cover that week off. Keep it in a separate account so you don’t accidentally spend it.
Just knowing it’s there helps reduce the feeling that you have to get back and jump directly into work to help make up for your time off. It’s hard to relax when you know that you have to put in double-time when you return. I’d rather put in the extra effort before I go, making my vacation that much sweeter because I’ve worked hard for it.
Notify Clients Well in Advance
As a solopreneur, you are your business. So, the last thing you want to do is damage your relationships with your clients by taking a vacation and not telling them until the last minute that you won’t be around to take care of them.
Typically, I notify my clients approximately 6-8 weeks before taking time off. This gives them time to get their projects to me in enough time to finish them before I go. I do the same for weeks that I know I’ll have limited availability. The more time I give them to plan, the more they trust me to honor our business-client relationship.
Because I notify so far in advance, I also try to send a quick reminder right before I’ll be out of the office. This helps reduce the likelihood that they’ll reach out for work during that time because they forgot to put it on their calendar. It also decreases the odds that I’ll have to tend to work while I’m trying to unplug.
Give Yourself Permission to Take Time Off
This is the big one. When you are a solopreneur, it’s easy to feel like you always have to be on the clock. You are 100% responsible for your successes and your failures, and taking a vacation can make you feel closer to the failure side of the equation because nothing is getting done.
Here’s the deal: Taking time away may mean that you lose the income that week or that your work might pile up a bit, but that’s okay. Sometimes it does you good to let your brain and body relax a bit. It enables you to return to your business with a renewed sense of energy and a fresh (more creative) mind.
So, permit yourself to take some time off to spend with family and friends, or to wander away by yourself. After all, this is one of the biggest perks of working for yourself. You get to dictate your own schedule. It’s time to start enjoying this benefit without guilt.