Freelancing can be tricky because, even though it offers flexibility, if you don't have a vacation policy integrated with your personal work, taking time off from work can be very difficult.
Planning ahead allows you to let clients know that you will be away from work, that you will not be answering messages or emails related to projects, etc. This is the only way to give yourself the time you need to rest, and if you wish, to travel. In this article we give you some tips to organize vacations in your work routine.
Create the logistics of your vacation
Since freelancing is totally independent, there is no one-size-fits-all logistics. You are the one who decides how things will be, but it must be subject to a firm decision making process to be able to communicate with your clients. For example, the logistics include making decisions about how long you are going to disconnect, if only certain hours of the day, or do it for weeks. This is because if you don't plan well, work and responsibilities can pile up on you.
Here is a list of some things you could define before taking a vacation:
What will be the last day you can accept new projects or deadlines. What will happen to ongoing projects. Whether you want to put some work with someone on hold or try to push it forward. Whether you will be away long enough to hire someone to help you. Whether you will cancel or reschedule regular client meetings.
One tip we can give you is to work ahead on the projects you can; that way you don't hire anyone during this time and the profits will be yours. Start by planning everything that needs to be done before and during your vacation and count it per client, either in terms of hours or actual deliverables. Then spread that work out over 2-3 weeks to get some more done before you leave. This plan is good for being completely free when you leave, because you get paid for projects before your trip and so you take more money with you, but more importantly you don't resent the vacation as much.
Inform your clients
When it comes to informing your clients, keep it simple. You don't need to explain details or justify your vacation. Let them know a few weeks in advance, especially if your vacation plans are going to alter scheduling or deadlines.
A good template for communicating to a client is as follows:
"Hello, customer X. Please be advised that I will be on vacation and on leave from May 10-20. What this means for our project is the following: I will deliver the work to you in advance, but I will not be able to start working on any new projects until I return.
I thank you for your understanding and will contact you as soon as I return."
This is a professional email that does not ask for your opinion about your time off nor does it give space for them to answer you with doubts. If you don't get a response before you leave, send another email reminding them of the dates.
Chances are that if you have served a client on vacation in the past, they will expect you to do the same in the future. For this reason it is very important to set boundaries by highlighting your availability on all vacations. If you don't want to contact them during your time away, create an automatic message that responds to your emails and text messages that says you are on vacation and when you will be able to get back to them.
Most customers will respect your time off, but it's smart to set good boundaries anyway. Some of your clients will also forget that you'll be on vacation, so these extra barriers keep you from feeling unnecessary stress in the middle of your vacation.
Add a day off to your vacation for your return.
Informing your clients that you're returning a day later than when you actually do allows you some peace of mind upon your return. You can sleep, unpack, do laundry, etc. whatever you need to do when you return and they won't be calling and texting you the moment you get off the plane.
Remember that your body and mind deserve time off.