Burnout is a real thing for editorial freelancers—trust me, I’ve been there.
While I know that running away from my problems isn’t the answer, I’ve learned that taking a true break helps me recharge my batteries and come back to work refreshed.
That’s why I decided to take a mandatory vacation every six months.
What is a mandatory vacation, anyway?
For me, a mandatory vacation means spending at least one week away from my freelance business and:
- Not doing any client work.
- Not checking my business email account…at all.
- Keeping my cell phone turned off as much as possible.
- Not thinking about my business and how to improve it. (This sometimes happens on its own, but I don’t plan for it!)
When I come back from a good vacation, I make better business decisions, I enjoy my work again, and I’m able to see the big picture.
Don’t let money stop you
If you’re thinking, “I don’t have the money to take two vacations a year,” take a close look at why you feel that way. What if a vacation just means a few days away from the desk? If you’re scared to miss even a few days’ worth of income, your rates are probably too low.
Since I started doing this two years ago, my annual income has gone up substantially. I’m also a much happier editor!
Making your vacation fit your budget
I often choose to visit other countries and live outside my comfort zone for a few weeks—six months ago I was in Peru, and tomorrow I’ll be in Holland. Contrary to what you might think, I don’t spend extravagantly on these trips. Because I have a flexible calendar, I use Google Flights to alert me when fares drop. When I see a fare I can’t resist, I jump on it.
I also stay in Airbnbs instead of hotels, which saves a ton of money. (I usually pay around $40 to $60 a night for a nice place, often with a full kitchen and washer and dryer. And they’re all over the world!)
Taking a vacation doesn’t have to mean traveling halfway around the globe—it can be anything from lounging on a quiet beach to a death-defying trek through the jungle. It can even be staying at a nice hotel a few blocks away and just vegging out for a few days.
Find what’s right for you and your wallet, and make it happen.
Preparing for a lower-income month
Yes, it’s scary to return from vacation and see the gap in your income, but successful freelance business owners see their income as the sum of the whole year. Plan ahead and know that the dreaded gap will exist—then, adjust your mindset accordingly.
I view my vacations as investments in my business. If I burn out, my whole company will fold and I’ll make $0. If I rest and recharge, I’ll be able to do better, higher-quality work…and actually enjoy it.
Planning and accountability go a long way—especially for your clients
I plan different “dream” trips all the time—I find it fun to explore places online and decide where to go next. It’s all very non-committal…until I book the flight. Once that happens, nothing but a grave emergency is going to stop me from taking that trip.
I plot out my vacation dates on my calendar right after I book the flight so clients know when I’ll be away. (I use YouCanBook.me for my client-facing calendar; it syncs with Google Calendar and allows clients to schedule meetings with me without the back-and-forth “I’m free Friday from 10 to 2” emails).
So, what’s stopping you from taking a mandatory vacation from your business? If you’re feeling run down and burnt out, it’s time. Make it happen!
The next post in this series will feature a vacation prep checklist for freelancers. I’m going to give you my best tips for managing your clients, your marketing, and your deadlines before a vacation. Stay tuned!