You’ve taken the first big step toward avoiding burnout as a freelance editor: you’ve booked your next vacation. Hooray! That’s a huge deal.
But now, the panic begins. What will your clients do without you? How will you manage your deadlines? What about the gap in your income?
Not to worry—this vacation prep checklist will make sure you have a worry-free, restful getaway. Start the countdown to Margaritaville!
One month to go
- If you haven’t already, mark your vacation days on your client-facing calendar. I use a free option called YouCanBook.me, which syncs with Google Calendar.
- Send out a brief, friendly email letting your clients know when you’ll be out of the office and whether or not they’ll be able to get in touch with you. (Set expectations early: if you don’t want to check your email on vacation, make sure to say you’ll be unavailable or “unplugged.”)
- Encourage current clients to book work now so they don’t experience any delays or gaps in service. (This can also help you “frontload” your income if you need to make a bit of extra money for your trip.)
- Make a list of any administrative work you need to stay on top of while you’re gone. (This could include invoicing, paying subcontractors, or managing your blog or social media marketing.)
- Start scheduling projects around your vacation dates. (Tip: give yourself at least two buffer days before and after your vacation to prep and then recharge. No deadlines on those days!)
Three weeks to go
- Have a team of employees or subcontractors? Talk to them about ongoing projects and how to handle everything while you’re away.
- Add a line to your email signature mentioning your vacation dates and accessibility while you’re gone. Mine usually says something like “Please note: I will be out of the country from April 20 to May 10. I won’t be accessible by email or phone during my trip, so if you have any questions or new projects to book, please let me know as soon as possible!”
- Remember that list of administrative tasks? This time, read through it and make some hard decisions: Do I really have to keep posting to Facebook while I’m gone? If something isn’t that important, skip it. For the other tasks you need to get done, see what you can automate (sending invoices can be automated in Quickbooks Online, for instance) or hand off to a virtual assistant.
Two weeks to go
- Start wrapping up your major projects.
- Refer any new clients to a trusted colleague if they need a project finished while you’re away (or if you use subcontractors, start referring more work to them).
One week to go
- If you’re planning to post automated social media content while you’re away, make sure everything is scheduled in Hootsuite, Buffer, or your scheduling tool of choice (the same goes for blog content).
Four days to go
- Edit the contact form(s) on your website as needed to tell new clients when you’ll be back in the office.
- Wrap up every single remaining project. No excuses! You don’t want to be stressing about a deadline a few hours before your flight leaves—I’ve been there, and it’s awful.
- Write and schedule a vacation autoresponder in your email program. Make sure the email includes your vacation dates and whether or not you will be checking your email or voicemail. (This is where I usually get more playful with my messaging. Sometimes I even write a funny haiku or limerick, but you don’t have to go that far!)