It’s hard, when you’re self-employed, every minute counts and the idea of having paid annual leave can be laughable. But is it possible? And why should you make time off a key priority if you’re self-employed?
How important is time off?
You may think the odd weekend away keep your travel-bug at bay and your mind clear, but research tells us this is not the case at all.
Without taking adequate time off work, the obvious downside is stress. Stress, which can take its toll in many forms, including
- Ill health
- Susceptibility to infection
- Poor sleep
- Digestive issues
- Mental health issues
- Poor memory
And then there are the less obvious implications of not taking regular holidays from your work, which can impact the livelihood you were working so hard to improve upon, such as
- Poorer productivity
- Negative impact on family life and relationships
- Poor decision-making
Right, now that we’ve covered the scary side of things, let’s look at way you can make that dream holiday a reality! Grab a book and your sunglasses, here we go!
How can I schedule in time off
This will depend on the specific type of work you do. But here are a few ways you could make it happen.
1) Schedule a week or two off and then increase your work-load slightly for the months preceding your time off. If the type of self-employed work you do can be completed ahead of schedule, then make it so. There are all sorts of scheduling tools out there to help you achieve this. Put in a few extra hours per week in the months leading up to your time off, then you can have your holiday and your full pay-check too
2) If your self-employed work can’t be done in advance and you’ll have to take a financial hit while you’re on holiday, then make sure you plan and save for it. Perhaps look at your hourly / daily rate and re-calculate it to allow for you to put money away for a few weeks off every year.
3) If you’re a contractor, arrange to have a week or two off in-between contracts. Or if you’re likely to have a contract renewed, request a delayed start date to make sure you get that well deserved time off. Some contracts are 12 months or more with no allowance for a holiday, sick day or even appointments. It’s really important to make sure you schedule in a break.
4) Make connections. Being self-employed can be a lonely job type, but it doesn’t have to be. In our recent blog on what you could learn from your closest competitors, we end by saying that actually making friends with them could be a huge advantage to both of you. If you have a self-employed friend that your trust, could you arrange to sub-contract some of your work to them for a week or two? Even if it’s just to ensure someone’s standing by in case of emergency.
5) If all else fails, and you absolutely must do a little work while on your holiday, be strict with yourself. Allow no more than 30 mins per day for essentials, such as answering emails, communicating with anyone you’ve left in-charge of your work or emergencies.
What do I tell my clients or customers?
Honesty is the best policy, don’t go off on your Euro roadtrip thinking you’ll not be missed. Give clients and customers good notice of your intended time off – remember, they’re human too, they’ll understand that everyone needs a little time off. The only way you could possibly get into trouble is by not being upfront about your plans, your availability and your fall-back scenario. Reassure them that you have everything covered in advance, or have an emergency plan in case it’s necessary.
Holiday tips for the self-employed
As a little added extra, we wanted to give you our top tips on planning the best holiday as a freelancer or contractor.
- If you’re working for a specific person within a company, check their holiday plans and see if you can get the same time off. Especially if you’re unlikely to be able to progress without their sign-off.
- You’re self-employed, that means you don’t have to fight over who’s having Christmas off, or the best week in August including the bank holiday. Book early, notify clients and customers early and enjoy this perk!
- If you’re the type of self-employed person who’s budgeted time off into their hourly/daily rate and you’re unlikely to have clients to notify of your time off, keep an eye on last minute deals. You’re more likely to be able to take advantage of them and get the perfect holiday away at a fraction of the cost
And while we know how difficult it can be to be both a workaholic and take time off, please remember to relax and get as much rejuvenating rest as possible out of your break.