Tim Aldred - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelance commercial writer, successfully navigating self-employment one unexpected obstacle at a time. Contact me at twitter.com/tim_aldred

7 Reasons freelancers should book a holiday

A good friend – a freelance photographer – has just returned from holiday. I nosed through her snaps with a slight hint of jealousy.

I love holidays. But…

… like many freelancers, nothing fills me with more trepidation than the thought of spending a week or two away from the office.

The usual questions circle inside of me: What if I miss an important call and the customer falls out with me? What if I miss out on a massive contract? What if it all just goes horribly wrong when I’m not here?

Of course, this is all nonsense. Freelancers don’t just deserve their time in the sun (or snow, or rain, or whatever tickles your fancy) – we need it.

Here’s seven reasons the next website you visit should be your travel agent’s.


1: Holidays keep you healthy

Day-to-day work, no matter how much you love what you do, has its stressful moments.

Stress is bad, and you need to get rid of it every now and then. If you don’t, the stress will wear you down and make you more susceptible to illnesses.

Without holidays, pretty soon you’ll be taking that week off any way, whether you like it or not. But you’ll be in bed drinking chicken soup checking your thermometer regularly.


2: Holidays are good for productivity

This sounds counter-intuitive, but science and experience says it’s true. People who take holidays get more done overall.

How? Because tired people begin to work more and more slowly. They also make mistakes which, if you catch them in time, can mean doing the work more than once. If you don’t catch your mistakes, you run the risk of disappointing your client and eventually losing their custom.

Without taking holidays, you’ll eventually end up working slowly, ineffectively and making poor business decisions. In the long run, it’ll cost you more than a week off ever would.


3: It’s good to take stock

It’s easy to become so ingrained in your business that you forget to stop and take a look at the bigger picture. You might wake up one morning knowing what you need to achieve by the end of the day, and that pattern might repeat every day – but do you know where you’re going in the long run?

Some of my best and most creative ideas hit me when I’m nowhere near my office, too. Over-thinking a problem can stop you reaching a solution. Clearing your mind may open your eyes to the answers you never even knew you were looking for.

You probably shouldn’t spend your whole holiday worrying about work, but it’s inevitable there’ll be moments when it enter your consciousness. And you never know, maybe your ‘eureka moment’ will happen on a sun-lounger on a golden beach somewhere.


4: Holidays aren’t new

Business owners have been running successful businesses despite taking regular holidays for decades. Centuries even. If they managed it, so can you.

In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’re in the habit of replying to emails the same day (research says many people reply to emails the same hour) because we think that’s what customers demand.

But it isn’t so. Email is relatively new. When I started out, ten short years ago, I’d write a story, print the thing out and send it by post. If the story had an accompanying photo, I’d also have to head down to Supa-Snaps to get a copy made, which I’d paperclip to the story.

That process could take three or four days, maybe a week, and nobody minded. Sure, the world moves quicker these days, but nothing goes wrong when things don’t happen instantly.


5: Your clients take holidays too

You may get the feeling that you need to be constantly available to all of your customers. Your customers, though, take their own holidays. They won’t all need you 52 weeks of the year. In fact, when they’re away, the probably won’t need you at all.

Most people take time off over Christmas, Easter and the summer. You may be nervous about doing the same, but the alternative could well be sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring whilst everyone else in the working world has switched their phones off and packed their laptops away.

Besides, your customers are human. They understand you need to take a break.


6: Something to look forward to

Freelancing offers us a varied life. Some days we’ll do something we’ve never done before and it’ll be fascinating, educational and a reminder of why we do what we do.

Other days might require dredging through a mass of boring chores. Not every day presents an obvious reason to roll out from under the duvet in the morning.

On those days, when you’ve snoozed your alarm for as long as is possible and it’s finally time to pour a strong coffee and haul yourself to your desk, you’ll need a positive thought to get you through the next eight, nine or ten hours of labour.

A holiday on the horizon presents its own feel-good factor, not just while you’re away, not even when you book it, but even Googling dream destinations can be exciting. From the moment you make the decision to treat yourself, it becomes the light at the end of your tunnel on those less exciting days.


7: You deserve it

This is the most important reason of all.

You’ve worked the long hours, shouldered the burden, dealt with the unfriendly client – now reap what you sowed.

You’re a freelancer, you’ve earned your holiday. And if my friend’s photos are anything to go by, I can recommend Indonesia.

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Written by Tim Aldred on April 24, 2012 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelance Jobs, Freelancers , , ,

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