They (we mean the proverbial ‘they’ but also lots and lots of experts) say you should take a vacation. Ideally, you would. In fact, we bet you really want to. You’ve been working hard everyday to build a business. You’ve earned it! But somehow you can’t slow down.
Grinding, hustling, crushing it 24/7 is not good for anyone, and it definitely will not help your business grow. Get this – it’s actually counterproductive.
Why we *should* take a break
A quick Google search returns countless articles that tell you all the benefits of taking a vacation, such as improved productivity and creativity, lower stress, and better overall mental health. They simultaneously warn of the dangers of failing to do so. Forgoing time off, whether for a few hours, a few days, or a weeks-long getaway, contributes to burnout. And with more than two-thirds of American workers reporting that they feel at least moderately burned out, it’s time to step away from your desk.
If you never take time to replenish or reflect, you might be trying to draw water from an empty well. That’s the problem with non-stop hustling. So if you know you want to – and need to – take a break, but it doesn’t feel possible, maybe it’s time to ask yourself: What’s holding me back from that break?
Why we don’t take a break
We see a consistent pattern of freelancers and small business owners who have a hard time allowing themselves to take real time off. Like “turn off your notifications, don’t check your email, just sit with your toes in the sand” time off. A 2019 study from HoneyBook found that 92% of freelancers work on vacation, 60% of them doing so because they feel they must.
The idea of taking a break can be anything but relaxing. Even a staycation can feel downright scary. You fear clients will think you’re lazy, unmotivated, or disinterested. You’re worried about missing out on new business or having to turn down a job, which means less money in your pocket.
We get it. We’ve worried about that too. But when we use excuses like “I’m too busy” or “Everything would fall apart without me,” we’re really just getting in our own way.
How you *CAN* take a break
First, give yourself permission. Would you continue to work for a boss who had unrealistic demands and didn’t value you as a whole person? Chances are you already left that boss. You’re better than that!
Find a way to manage your downtime. The best way to do that is to build it into your business.
Set expectations with your clients: When you begin working with a new client, make your boundaries clear. You work during these hours, you take this long to reply to emails, you are unavailable on these days. Whatever they are, make them known and then stick to them.
Set expectations with yourself: Even if you’re lucky to be doing something you love, you still deserve to step away from it to cultivate other aspects of yourself. As Austin Pinckney, one of our freelancer animators, says, “Boundaries are necessary for your passions as well. Even though this is my passion, work itself is not ME.”
Optimize your workflow: Automate processes where you can to make your business run more efficiently. We LOVE and use Zapier to help connect our automations. Delegate other tasks when possible AND eliminate things you should stop doing. You’d be surprised at how many tasks you do but really don’t need to.
How to prep for upcoming days off
Whether you’ve already built these things into your business or it’s something you’re working towards, planning in advance for a vacation is essential.
Give your clients a heads up. We recommend letting them know a few weeks in advance and then following up with a reminder the week before you leave. Let them know when / if you’ll be checking email, what deliverables you can submit prior to your departure, and when you will be back in office.
Use subs. Sometimes things come up last minute or it isn’t possible to work ahead. Have a list of reliable subs who could step in if something catches fire and needs attention while you are gone so you can relax and not hover over email.
Set your OOO (Out of Office). Remind current and potential clients that you’re on vacation!
Download our OOO samples to make stepping away from your email attainable.
If you can’t completely unplug, consider a working vacation. Designating certain days or certain times each day that you will focus on work can allow you to turn off your work brain during the time you’ve set aside to explore or relax.
The big picture of taking a break
Breaks keep your work fresh and your head on straight, two key components of your success. A healthy business is a business you can step away from, go celebrate your awesomeness, and come back rejuvenated. Get the right systems in place, and you’ll be playing easier and resting easier in no time.
Feeling like you need some help building the business you want? Use our Ideal Day Worksheet to help put you on the right path.