I tend to make taking time off harder than it needs to be. I’ve discovered over the years that this is true of many freelancers.
When you don’t accrue paid time off, it can be a little hard to justify taking a vacation. Not only are you potentially spending money on a trip, but you’re also not making money during that time frame.
When you work on retainer, taking time off often means doing extra work during the lead up to your vacation, which can be stressful.
All this adds up to a lot of freelancers thinking, “I’ll take some time off… uh, later.”
What I’m about to share won’t make big vacations easier. (Those are still important to take!) But I hope it will make taking smaller vacations more often a little less daunting.
About a month ago, I realized I hadn’t really taken any meaningful time off in a good long while. I’m actually embarrassed to say how long.
I didn’t want to make travel plans, but I did want to take a break. A long weekend seemed like it would do the trick.
I also wanted my break to be memorable. Sleeping late and reading and feeling like I should be catching up on the yard work wasn’t going to cut it.
So, I decided to anchor each day of my four-day weekend to a hike. I chose hikes that were within a two-hour drive of my house and that I could complete in under four hours.
Once I’d decided that was what I wanted to do, I picked my long weekend, and put it on my calendar. I let my clients know two weeks in advance, so we could plan deadlines in a way that wouldn’t make the lead-up stressful.
In other words, I fully committed to taking the time off. I announced it. And I planned for what I would do each day to set that time apart from a normal weekend.
It turned out, it wasn’t hard or stressful. I was able to get four full, memorable days away from work and screens and deadlines. But it took planning something I would look forward to, to ensure I followed through. In the past, when I’ve planned long weekends, I’ve often decided to go ahead and work, just because there were things to get done, and I didn’t really have anything firmly put on my schedule.
Now, of course, it doesn’t have to be hiking…
You could do a different puzzle each day of your long weekend.
Or plan a movie marathon for each day.
You could visit a different tourist attraction in your hometown… or cook a different batch of cookies… or visit a different park…
You get the idea. If you think back to the last time you took time off and, like me, are a little embarrassed by how long ago it was, I challenge you to plan a long weekend. Fill it with activities you’ll look forward to. Make the commitment… and then enjoy yourself!
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That’s all for now. Make it a great week!