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 are 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 are the boss now, be a good one. Give yourself a break. Even better, give yourself a long break. You deserve it.

Here’s How the Entrepreneur Can Take the 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 will be gone
  • Making a list of essential things that you normally do that must be done while you are gone

Hire a temp or virtual assistant:
If in fact you cannot 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 are gone.

No, they cannot 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 pow-wow every few days over the phone.

Turn the iPhone 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, it ticks off people who you are supposed to be relaxing with.

Call and check in a bit, sure, but there is no need to do it constantly. One recent survey found that 81% of small business owners intend to check in with their business either by phone or email while on vacation. (Note: 19% will not check in at all!)

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 will be back in the office Tuesday, tell them Thursday. Then, when you get back in 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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