By Lynne Gowers on 26th August 2014

A freelancer’s guide to taking time off

For most people, taking time off is a simple affair. Just ask your boss if you can take off a set of dates and, well, that’s it! Get the suncream in and count down the days to take off!

But what if you’re a freelancer? Obviously, you have no boss to ask, but what do you need to do in order to take a holiday comfortably?

You still have clients and projects to take care of and so you’ll need to be organised well in advance of your trip.

Here’s our guide to taking time off for independent workers.

A freelancer guide to taking time off

Start saving

Working for yourself means that you’ll need to start saving early for your holiday. Whereas this is generally the same for most permanent workers, you’ll have to take into account the fact that you won’t be getting paid whilst you’re off. Not only will you have to factor in costs for your holiday, but also any other general living costs you may need to take care of while you are away.

Switch off

As the old adage goes ‘you’re never off work when you’re self employed’. Indeed, it can be tempting to answer a client’s query on a Sunday or do a little overtime on a bank holiday, just to get that project finished.

However, when you’re away on holiday, you need to learn to prioritise your time. Work should be left at home (unless it’s absolutely urgent) where it will be waiting when you get back.

Not only is this important in terms of spending some quality time with your family but if you don’t switch off sometimes, you’ll burn out sooner or later.

Learn when to turn down an offer

Turning down work is difficult. Given the opportunity to make extra cash, most people will say yes.

But picture the scene, everyone’s packed, the taxi is on its way and you get a call from from an old client: Can you do a last minute job for me this week?…

Ok, the money might be good but say yes and you might be sleeping on the couch for a few weeks to come!

Obviously, if the job of a lifetime comes up and you absolutely can’t say no then your family will likely understand. Either way, you have to know when to say no to an opportunity.

Let your clients know

Depending on how you work, you’ll probably want to have all your most recent projects wrapped up before you leave, especially if you’re going away for an extended period of time.

If you have projects that aren’t too time sensitive, you may be able to take time off during the contract, however you must let the client know well in advance. This is for two reasons: It will affect how much they pay you and you don’t want them bothering you while you’re on holiday.

Be prepared

Most of the above is just common sense, you need to be prepared in all areas of your professional life before you take a holiday or break. As all the responsibility is on you, you just need to put a little more effort in with managing your clients and projects. Remember, everyone needs a break!

Written by Lynne Gowers
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