Article | 04 Aug 2022

How To Take [Guilt-Free] Holidays As A Freelancer

Posted in Freelancer, Top tips, Tools & Advice, Motivation & inspiration,

Picture this: you've arrived at your holiday destination. The sun is shining, you lay your towel out on the white sandy beach, take a sip of lemonade, shut your eyes and think of… work? What emails have landed in your inbox since you left. If your client has had an emergency. Maybe you're letting them down by being uncontactable.

Sound familiar?

If you find yourself searching, 'how to relax on holiday' or 'how to have guilt-free holidays' before jet setting, you might have Guilty Vacation Syndrome. Around 66% of Brits have said they have feelings of guilt during holiday time, largely because a heavy workload or a busy period leaves them feeling like they "should" be working.

For freelancers, switching off can be even more of a challenge. You value your clients, and the relationships you've built. Your paycheque is only as strong as the work you complete, and not only is there no mandatory holiday pay, you don't have co-workers to keep an eye on things while you're away.

All of this can lead you to feeling guilty about taking holiday, tempting you to dip into a bit of work while you're away, or avoid time off altogether.

We're here to tell you that it doesn't need to be that way. Taking holidays isn't only possible, but it's imperative to your health, wellbeing, and performance - and it can be done without the dose of guilt.

"I don't have the time"

A favourite saying with self-employed folk. And it's clear to see why. Time is money, and whether you charge an hourly or day rate, a project or monthly retainer, what you earn is directly related to the work completed.

The truth is, there is never a perfect time. You'll probably always have client work to complete, a list of "must dos" and "want to dos", and even the chance to get one step ahead on next month's work.

You need to make the time. Easier said than done, but if you make time for client work, needs and wants, why can't you do the same for your own?

Avoid taking regular breaks and you could face a wealth of issues, such as:

  • Stress and extreme fatigue
  • Burn out
  • Reduced quality (+ enjoyment) of work
  • Increased risk of depression or heart disease
  • and more…

At the end of the day, without proper rest, your body may insist on taking a break for you. You won't be able to control when or how it happens, or how long you could be down and out. So it's worth the leap.

Work-free and guilt-free

Ok, so we've convinced you to take a break. How precisely can it be achieved?

Two words: planning and boundaries.

  1. Schedule time off - and keep it. Whether it's 2 weeks in the Bahamas or a long weekend visiting family, once it's in your diary think about it like any other commitment.
  2. Communicate with clients. Let your clients as far as 4-6 weeks ahead of time that you won't be contactable, and if it feels relevant, a quick reminder call a few days prior wouldn't go amiss.
  3. Set up nudge reminders. Include the dates you'll be away in your email signature to help you set expectations with clients. Plus, it'll keep you on track with your workflow and planning.
  4. The 'B' word. Budget can be a big drawback for freelancers. Not only are you spending on a holiday, you're not earning while you're there. Determine your ideal budget well in advance so that you have the time to save comfortably. Better yet, create a dedicated pot you put into regularly to keep the holiday savings growing.
  5. Have a firm word. With yourself. Only you can keep yourself accountable, so if you know you can't be trusted not to work, turn off your phone, uninstall your email, or just leave your devices at home.
  6. Collaborate. What many freelancers don't realise is that they, too, can get a little helping hand. For longer breaks where things really can't wait, The Work Crowd could help you source the perfect freelance support to keep things ticking while you're away.

One last word from us.

We've all missed out on a lot over the past few years, particularly the chance to travel, spend time with family and friends, and switch off from screens. Doing so won't only be beneficial for your health and overall wellbeing, and your work, but it's an opportunity which may not come around again.