One of the biggest misconceptions about freelancing is that freelancers get to take as many breaks and vacations as they want. This is partly true, because freelancing means having the freedom to work according to your own time. What most people don't realize is that when you don't have set hours, you can easily overwork yourself.
When you're a freelancer and you're serious about your projects, it can be very tempting to do overtime. According to a Contently study called "The State of Freelancing in 2015," one of the biggest challenges that freelancers face is time management. Another is actually taking on too much work. Since you have the freedom over your hours, you can work as long and as hard as you want. This is why you have to remember that you're also free to take a break. You can declare time-outs, as well as go on that well-deserved vacation. Here's how you can do it smoothly and effectively.
Don't forget to have short breaks throughout the day. It doesn't matter if you're a full-time worker or a freelancer – you need to give yourself a few minutes of rest after every few hours of working. This will prevent you from burning out, as well as keep you from getting work-related injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury. It will also help freshen up your tired brain.
You can work long hours if you must, but do set aside time for breaks. Once in a while, get up from your computer and stretch. Listen to music, get a snack, have some coffee, or watch a video or two. Ease up on your brain for a bit before going back to another few hours of intense focus.
Don't make the mistake of procrastinating though. Taking a break for 15 to 20 minutes is a far cry from watching a movie for a few hours. Remember – a day of procrastination might mean a sleepless night for you.
Take advantage of weekends or off-days. You can work on weekends, or any day for that matter. Being a freelancer, it is up to you when you want to work. The important thing is that you give yourself a day or two per week to relax and regroup.
If you need to work on weekends, designate a day or two during the rest of the week as your personal weekend. Having time off from work will help you stay sane and let you do things other than work. You don't even have to travel. You can spend time with your family and friends at home, or have a staycation at a hotel in your town or city for a breath of fresh air and a change of environment.
Do a working trip. The beauty of freelancing is that you can work anytime and anywhere. If you're raring to go out of town but you still have pending work – bring it with you! Just make sure that you have a way to work, either while you're on the road, or wherever you're going. A computer, an Internet connection, and a mobile phone are essentials, of course.
You'll also have to inform your client that you will be working while traveling. To set expectations, say that you might lose cellphone signal or have an intermittent Internet connection when you're on the road, but also make the assurance that you'll be in constant contact as much as possible.
Don't be afraid to go on a full-fledged vacation. You deserve one for all the hard work you do! A vacation will help you recharge by letting you spend a few days (or weeks) not thinking about work.
There are very few freelance jobs that offer paid vacations. You might think that you can't take a vacation because every day away from work might mean lost income. This doesn't have to be the case at all. The trick is to plan and save for your vacation way in advance.
Having a stress-free vacation means careful planning. Make sure that you set aside some money from every paycheck for your trip, as well as have money in the bank left to live on after you get back from your break.
If you're handling multiple projects and clients, you'll have to do some schedule-juggling. Try to coordinate your projects in such a way that you finish way before you take your vacation. Do your work in advance, and inform your employers at least two weeks before your trip. Don't leave work behind or leave your clients hanging – that way you won't have anyone calling you while you're sipping a piña colada on a beach somewhere, and you won't come home to any problems either.
Breaks and vacations are as much of a necessity to freelancers as they are to full-time workers. All it takes is careful preparation and discipline, and you can work hard and play hard whenever and wherever.