Taking time off as an entrepreneur or freelancer can feel like quite the undertaking. You have to plan the trip, potentially give up a bit of income, and, on top of that, manage your client commitments so that no one thinks you ghosted them!
Since we don’t have the luxury of putting in a ‘time off’ request with our boss and then simply not showing up at work for a few days, it’s a good idea to get strategic about taking your vacation.
It’s an entrepreneur’s nightmare to put in all of the work to make a relaxing vacation happen only to be chained to your phone answering frantic client messages and sneaking in urgent work around your R&R. Together in this blog, we’re going to break down your vacation strategy step by step to make sure your vacation is a dream come true instead.
The most important prep work you can do for your vacation is communicating the right details to the right people. It can feel a little overwhelming to do this for the first time but remember that your clients know you’re human and that taking vacations is a part of work life, so they’ll most likely be happy to help accommodate your time off.
When you’re getting ready to communicate with your clients about your time off, you’ll need to know the following:
If you are going to have someone available to answer client messages during your time away, plan a call to get them set up and informed about your clients a week or two before your vacation. You’ll want to cover how this person can contact you if needed and what constitutes an ‘emergency’ that you should be contacted for.
Get a call on the calendar for the last day of your vacation with your alternate contact person as well. This ‘last day’ should really be your buffer day where you’re easing back into work and shamelessly flying under the radar! On the call, you can go over anything you missed.
Take Advantage of Tech: Not going to call in backup? No problem. Put an autoresponder to work for you that will send anyone who emails you a message that you’re away with dates you’ll be gone, when they can expect to hear from you, and an emergency contact if you have one.
Block Off Your Calendar: In addition to an autoresponder for inquiries and emails, you’ll also want to make sure that you block your vacation off in your scheduling software so no one can make new appointments with you.
Giving your clients the appropriate amount of notice for your time off is important. The longer the time off, the more notice they might need to plan accordingly.
Consider how you usually schedule your work and what clients have come to expect from you. If you typically schedule work out two weeks in advance with clients, you’ll want to plan your vacation at least three or four weeks ahead. That way, you won’t schedule work or calls on those days that will have to be rescheduled later. If you schedule work out a month or more in advance or have monthly retainer clients who depend on you for core business activities, it’s not a bad idea to plan longer vacations two or three months in advance so that you can schedule work accordingly.
Here’s a little guide to help you decide how far in advance you need to inform your clients about your time off:
1 business day off → One week in advance.
2-5 business days off → Four to six weeks in advance.
6-14 business days off → Six to eight weeks in advance.
More than 14 days off → Eight to twelve weeks in advance.
With a longer time off, you’ll also want to remind clients somewhere around the two-weeks-before mark and the week before.
Even if you’re going to meet with a client on a call and tell them about your vacation plans, then I highly recommend writing an email as well. This ensures they have everything in writing to refer back to and haven’t mistaken any details.
Want to make sure your clients have all the information they need about your upcoming vacation? I’ve got you covered with some free vacation email templates! Don’t risk any misunderstandings or important details being missed. Use these templates to ensure your clients have all the information they need in writing. Click here to get your hands on the free templates stat!
Returning from your vacation starts before you leave. I know, I know…that’s a bit of a brain twister, but hear me out.
If you have time-sensitive tasks on your plate, even things that will have to be done the day you return from your vacation, get them done before you leave. I recommend making a list of ‘things that will nag me when I’m on vacation’ and addressing them before you go. Even with our laptops closed, we entrepreneurs know that ‘closing shop’ doesn’t happen unless things are taken care of in a way that frees our minds to wander away from work!
I’ve mentioned this already, but I’ll say it again, plan a buffer day at the beginning and end of your trip if you can. At the bare minimum, at least give yourself a half day when you return to work where you don’t have any client work due so that you can catch up on emails and have a call with your alternate contact/backup person.
When you get back to your desk, don’t forget to take breaks and ease your way back into your work rhythm. There’s no point in undoing all of your relaxation by rushing back into an overloaded work week.
Here’s to a fabulous vacation and enjoying your well-deserved and well-planned time off, and don’t forget to download your FREE email templates HERE!
March 14, 2023