Monday, June 16, 2008

All Work and No Play -- When You Need Time Off

I don't do this. I know should, and I will someday soon, but right now I don't plan vacations and trips for more than two days straight. My business needs me too much right now. I 'm not alone in this thinking – a lot of other freelancers are doing the exact same thing. When you love what you do it can be hard to tear yourself away. Some of the smarter freelance writers out there have figured out how to take a little bit of time off here and there for vacations, holidays and so on. I'll be among them someday…

A little time off is essential. It can prevent burnout and give you the time you need to establish balance in your life. You get to focus on nurturing those important relationships with family and friends. You will return to your work refreshed with brilliant ideas ready to go!

It takes some planning to do this. It really depends on who you are and how you run your business. Some writers put the "gone on vacation" sign out for their customers and refer them to another writer in their absence. Other writers may choose not to disclose their get away plans, and instead will check their email during their vacation and outsource any work that comes up to one or two reliable writers. Then of course some writers pack up their laptops and work on projects while they are away.

But what if an unexpected emergency catches you off guard? Emergencies will happen and will catch you off guard. If you are a soloprenuer, this can be tricky. My daughter had to go to the hospital unexpectedly this past January while I was in the middle of a pretty big project. She was only six and very ill, so I wasn't going to leave my baby all alone in a hospital. At the same time, my client needed his project completed. I packed up my laptop and notes and spent five days working on projects at her bedside. There was even a career center equipped with computers and printers available for working parents. I would go down to the center during her naps and after hours when she slept to print whenever I needed too. I did what was necessary to take care of my child and keep my client happy.

When you are attempting to maintain a business, you can't just jump up and leave whenever the mood strikes. Well, you can, but you might not be in business for too long. People are counting on you, just as your employers were when you worked your nine-to-five job. Thankfully, you have much more flexibility and say so to get things done. If you work as hard as most freelance writers I know, you deserve a little time off. Discipline, organization and determination can help you accomplish a lot without missing a beat.

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