Leaving Work Behind

6 Steps to Prepare for a Vacation from Your Freelance Business

Written by Gina Horkey on June 8, 2015. 17 Comments

vacationMan, it’s hard to walk away from work as a webpreneur!

Sometimes as short a period of time as a day can be hard. So what do you do if you want to take an actual vacation? If your business is dependent solely on you, your actions, your presence – how do you make this happen?

Everyone needs to take a break sometime. And odds are that you got into this profession – and became self-employed – so that you had more control. More flexibility to do things like travel and take time off.

If you’re anything like me, you may be working harder (and more) than ever though. Your business is growing due to these efforts, you’re making more money each month, but both of these positive side effects make it virtually impossible to hit pause or take a well needed time out.

Am I describing you? If so, today I want to share a step-by-step process to help you confidently plan and execute your next vacation. I want us both to be able to check out of work every once in a while. Here are six steps to prepare for your next vacation from your freelance business:

1. Schedule It

The first step is to pick out where you want to visit, when you want to go, and schedule it. If you’re always waiting for the “right time”, it’ll never come. Instead take action by looking at your calendar, the needs of your family and your workload, and start planning your next epic adventure.

You could make it a “work trip” and schedule it around a conference you really want to attend, with a few extra days to see the sights. But since you need a vacation from work (you’d still be working on this trip), I don’t think this counts.

Instead grab your bucket list of travel ideas, stay at home and conduct a staycation or connect with some friends that no longer live nearby. You know the ones – you always talk about someday you’ll take a trip together or go visit them.

Someday is now. Pick a trip and book it!

2. Start Cutting Distractions

One of the best ways to begin increasing the amount of work completed in your workday is to start cutting distractions. You know the sorts of things – social media that “doubles” as work; getting sucked into unnecessarily long email exchanges.

Distractions are masked as many different things – many of which seem like work. The best way to find out where you’re wasting your time is by tracking it.

My entire being rejects this advice – I kinda hate time tracking. But if you really don’t think you have distractions to cut (I already know that I do!), I would implore you to give it a try, even if you just use it while preparing for something as fun as a vacation!

An easy way to implement this is to try out the Pomodoro technique. Or just set a timer for those tasks that seem to take you longer than they should (this works well for getting motivated to clean the house too!). You’d be amazed at how efficient you can be when having to work within certain time constraints or if there’s a deadline looming.

3. Work Ahead

I try to do this on a monthly basis with my writing work anyway. I keep a master Google doc detailing all of the writing assignments that I have for that month. This includes paid client work, posts for my own blog, newsletters to my list, etc.

It’s still my goal to complete ten pieces per week. That means that I shoot for about two per day. Some days it’s more and others it’s less, but as long as the average per day adds up to a total of ten, it doesn’t matter.

Now, I don’t typically have 40 pieces per month (it’s usually around 30), so if I’m good at working ahead at the beginning of the month, it usually leaves me some margin or extra time at the end of the month. This would be good timing for a vacation for me! Or at least just a day off every once in awhile.

As a freelancer, you can do this too. You don’t have to deliver work early (although I typically do), but you can complete it early. It’s a great practice to get into in genera;, but works especially well to prepare for time away from your business.

4. Give Your Clients a Heads-Up

I think it’s appropriate to give clients a heads-up that you’ll be gone. It doesn’t need to be a lengthly explanation, or even detail where you’re going.

Rather, a short note (maybe with your finished articles attached) letting them know that you’ll be unavailable for the following dates will do the job. If you’ve done really well with step number two and you have a little extra time, you could ask them if they have any additional work that they need completed before you go.

You’ll look professional, efficient and eager to help. They might not take you up on it this time, but could remember your offer for an increased workload down the road!

5. Set an “Out of Office” Autoresponder

A lot webpreneurs I’ve encountered don’t like doing this. This can be an indication that they’re addicted to their email and incapable of really taking a break, unable to step back from their business while away. And that’s just silly!

Ideally you’d have someone help you, like a VA or in Tom’s case, his lovely mum. But if you don’t have the option or the budget for hiring someone, try a simple “out of office” message that goes out to anyone who emails you while you’re away.

Here’s a great example:

“Thanks for your message. I’m currently doing something to help serve you better – I’m taking a vacation! We all need to time to relax and reboot, and that’s what I’m currently doing in XYZ. 

I’ll be back in the office on May 30th, but if you have something truly urgent before then, send me another email with “URGENT” in the subject line. I’ll be checking email on a VERY limited basis, but I don’t want anything to implode while I’m away.

Thanks for your understanding,


P.S. When’s your next vacation? Where are you going to go?”

6. Unplug, Reset and Unwind

Ready for the last and best step of all? It’s time for you to unplug, reset, unwind and take a proper vacation! I bet it has been awhile.

Do your best to stay out of your business’ business while away. Take a deep dive into your personal business and make the most of the experience instead.

Soak up some sun. Take a stroll or two. Really connect with whomever your travel companions are or meet some new people. Life is for the living, after all!

In Conclusion

It may seem impossible to take a proper vacation as a webpreneur. Trust me, I know firsthand. I also know that when I’m forced to unplug (stay away from the internet and work), I’m much better for it!

So take care of yourself. Start preparing your next vacation by actually scheduling it. Then start cutting the distractions and use the extra time to work ahead. Give your clients a friendly heads-up that you’ll be away and ask for some extra work if you have the capacity before you leave. Set that autoresponder and bon voyage, you’re on your way!

When’s the last time you took a proper vacation? Are you due? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo credit: David Marcu via Unsplash

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17 Responses to “6 Steps to Prepare for a Vacation from Your Freelance Business”

  1. Laura Ginn
    June 8, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I wish I only had 10 articles per week to write, instead it’s usually 10-15 per day. I’ve never been able to take a proper holiday because of this.

    • Gina Horkey
      June 8, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Laura, that’s a ton! I wonder if you raised your rates what would happen? That sounds like it would be a great goal for you…

  2. Michelle Schroeder
    June 8, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    I always try to work ahead as much as I can before I leave for a vacation. It helps significantly!

    • Gina Horkey
      June 8, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      For sure! I found that it’s still not perfect as certain things still needed to be done. But I’m not perfect either – still a work in progress!! 😉

  3. Corina
    June 8, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Hey Gina,

    These are great tips. As our businesses are different, each of us has to find what works for them.
    But you are right, taking time off helps you recharge and come back with another energy and lots of creativity.
    Not sure if I am going to be able to take a long vacation this year, but I´ll squeeze a few long weekends.
    Enjoy your holiday!

  4. Karl Craig-West
    June 8, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Great post Gina,
    Some very useful pointers there.
    I always make time for holidays these days.

    In 2013 I took 6 weeks off (not all in the same blog though). I’m not trying to brag because it created chaos and was a heck of a job managing clients and workloads and it took me ages to catch up.

    Since then I’ve been far more organised and do almost all of what you’ve suggested above. I can now holiday knowing that clients know I’m away and that workloads have been managed.

    Huge thanks

  5. Liz Dexter
    June 9, 2015 at 8:27 am

    I’ve got an extra tip which has helped me hugely – make a cover arrangement with a freelancer in the same field. I have a brilliant colleague who will cover my work while I’m away – and I do the same for her, of course. Typically, I will warn my clients a good while in advance, then the main ones who want it have an arrangement with me to send any work they are scheduling or get in during that week to her rather than me. She and I have an arrangement that we don’t steal each other’s clients, and although we match each other’s prices so as to be fair to our clients, our dealings with each client are separate, i.e. we each invoice the client for whatever work we personally do for them (in the majority of cases).

    This works really well, and allows me to take holidays – although I do all the other stuff, too. It also works well in cases of sudden illness, as I had a few weeks ago when struck down by the flu – having these arrangements in place in advance really helps.

    • Gina Horkey
      June 9, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Hey Liz! That’s awesome! You guys must have a great relationship – I would think that would also be ideal for women wanting to take a maternity leave:-). Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Akosua Albritton
    June 9, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Great! I don’t have problems with detaching from my business. I use most of the steps she shares. Telling clients in advance is important so that work is done. Getting away is essential. Worry about the email, phone calls, & postal mail later. Just be happy that you’re needed.

  7. Yogiraj Mishra
    June 10, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Yes! It’s very hard to go on a vacation when you have to write 5-15 articles a day for 3-4 months rapidly.
    But yes! you gave all required idea for stress free vacation.

  8. Robyn Petrik
    June 13, 2015 at 2:00 am

    Well timed post for me, as I leave for Iceland on Monday. While I’ve still got a tiny bit of work to do over the weekend, I’m happy to have wrapped up my bigger projects and set my out of office email. Which Gina, I used a good portion of your sample script – thank you!

  9. Jamie
    June 13, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Great advice Gina! You’re so right when you say that we get in to the business of freelancing so we can create more freedom in our life.

    We should all remember to take some time out and make sure to keep it a lifestyle business.

    Also, love your friendly email script. I’m going to leave something similar next time I’m detaching.

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