5 steps to prevent working through your vacation

May 13, 2015

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

One of the best things about freelancing is that, technically, you can take a vacation whenever you want for however long you want. Technically.

But we all know that freelancing also makes it incredibly difficult to completely unplug. There isn’t anyone who can cover for us in our absence and frankly, we don’t get paid when we’re not working. We live in FOME (Fear of Missing Emails).

Summer is coming, and if you find yourself dreaming of far off lands and no cell service, follow these steps to enjoy (and not work through) your next vacation.

Time it right:

Schedule your vacation during a time of year that’s typically slower than usual for you, or when your clients are also likely to be out of the office on holidays. Consider taking multiple mini trips over holiday weekends instead of one big one.

Plan ahead:

Give in to the fact that the weeks leading up to your vacation might be hellish as you try to finish any existing projects and meet deadlines early. Just picture yourself relaxing on a beach with your phone nowhere in sight, and keep telling yourself it’ll be worth it.

Attempt to set boundaries by alerting your clients ahead of time that you’ll be going on vacation and will have limited access to email. As a courtesy, ask them if there’s anything they’ll need done beforehand... and get it done.

Then hopefully, they’ll respect the fact that everyone needs a break now and then, and hold off on bothering you, short of an emergency. Just make sure you set up your out of office message in case they forget.

Work while in transit:

Take advantage of any travel time to your destination, and work. Whether it’s on the flight, bus, or passenger seat during a road trip, you can breathe easy knowing you’re not really missing out on anything (except maybe a nap).

Plus, if you look busy enough, it might stop the person next to you from making conversation.

Sacrifice sleep for fun:

We all want to sleep in on vacation, but you can maximize your fun if you commit to waking up early—before your family and friends—and work. Get it out of the way so you’re free to enjoy the day’s activities and even have a few drinks without worrying about being sober enough to answer emails. Your travel companions will also appreciate your effort to prioritize your time with them.

Leave the phone in the hotel:

It’s fine for you to check your emails in the morning, or while you’re lounging at the hotel, but leave your phone behind while relaxing, adventuring, eating and especially while drinking. You’re more likely to anger a client with a response full of gibberish than none at all.

Jess Lander's favorite place to freelance from is poolside. She lives in the Bay Area and specializes in social media and all forms of content marketing.