Even mentioning the subject typically triggers one of two intense visceral responses in a freelancer’s “lizard” brain:
“Ack! I don’t have enough work! I can’t afford a vacation.”
OR “Ack! I have so much work! I don’t have time for a vacation.”
Of course it’s not the vacation itself that causes the big stress. It’s scrambling to hit extra deadlines before you go, playing catch-up when you get back, and—worst of all—not sending any invoices while you’re away.
None of these are valid excuses.
Running your own creative business may be a labor of love, but it’s still labor—and sometimes hard labor at that. Even if every project you’re doing is uplifting and energizing, sooner or later the deadlines, the accounting forms, and the requests to “make the logo just a little bigger” are going to start weighing on your muse.
Therein lies what too many freelancers overlook: the business case for getting out of the office. When you get burned out you become less productive, less patient, less creative, and less a lot of other stuff. All of these things make you less profitable.
Can’t afford to travel this year? Let the machine answer your business phone for a week while you take a “staycation.” Read a book. Visit the great local museums or attractions you never have time for. Spend time with your S.O., kids, pets, or friends. Play video games. Build the corner cabinets you promised to build a year and a half ago. Draw or write something just for yourself. Do whatever recharges your batteries. Just don’t work.
Crazy busy? Take a work detox—preferably by getting out of Dodge. Ever notice that most of your clients “disappear” for a week or two this time of year? You can do that too. (And no, CFBC doesn’t count. That was still work even though it may have felt like a holiday.) Quash that nagging feeling that you’re goofing off. This is about renewal.
Suffering from information overload? Going off the grid can be amazingly restful. Seriously. Our ancestors survived without email for generations, so you can handle it for a week. Or five days. Okay, four—but don’t pay extra for wi-fi on the cruise ship.
The bottom line is this: You don’t just deserve a bit of time off; your business needs you to take it in order to stay competitive.
If that still makes you feel anxious, it’s probably a good sign that you need a vacation.
Tom N. Tumbusch writes copy that creates action for designers, creative agencies and green businesses. He publishes a free writing tips newsletter each month and periodically shares more casual wisdom on the WordStream of Consciousness Blog. His tiny solar-powered corner of the Internet can be found at www.wordstreamcopy.com.