Taking Time Off When You’re Self-Employed

When you work for yourself, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to take time off. No, it’s not easy, but the fact is, you can’t afford not to get away. If you’re like most of us, you went into business for yourself because…

  • You wanted more freedom, or
  • You wanted a better boss or work situation, or
  • You wanted more creativity at work, or
  • All of the above

Consider the story of the lawyer who once worked for a law firm that, it seemed, was quite generous with their time-off policy: three paid weeks a year. Woo-hoo!

But it was only after the lawyer started that he “got” the fine print — he was allowed the time off but only if he still billed his requisite 90 hours for the time he was gone. He got three weeks off, but only if he worked an extra three weeks later in the year.

Bad job, that one.

So, if you’re the boss now, be a good one. Give yourself a break. Even better, give yourself a long break. You deserve it.

How to Take That Much-Needed Vacation

Plan ahead

This can mean many things:

  • Saving up enough money so you can get away without being stressed
  • Telling clients and customers that you’ll be gone
  • Making a list of essential things that you normally do that must be done while you’re gone

Hire a temp or virtual assistant

If, in fact, you can’t get away without closing the office or shop, then consider hiring part-time help, a temp, or a virtual assistant who can man the essential functions while you’re gone.

No, they can’t do everything you do, but you just might be surprised at how much they can do. The key is proper training and good communication. Consider having a meeting every few days over the phone.

Turn the smartphone off

It’s a blasphemous thought, I know. But the point of getting away is to get away. Constantly checking emails and making calls not only defeats the purpose, but it also ticks off people who you’re supposed to be relaxing with.

Call and check in a bit, sure, but there is no need to do it constantly.

Get more done early

Get extra work done before you go. By getting ahead, you make getting away much more doable.

Schedule extra time when you get back

Don’t tell everyone you’ll be back in the office Tuesday. Tell them Thursday. Then, when you get back on Tuesday, you can have a few days of uninterrupted time to catch up.

Combine business and pleasure

If getting away from it all still seems too difficult, consider making a business trip a family trip. It will save you money, allow you to still work a bit, but also have some needed R&R.

Have more three-day weekends

Finally, if a week away is not your thing, for whatever reason, then consider simply having more long weekends. You will rejuvenate your batteries, yet still get work done.

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