Freelancing tips

How to take a personal day when you work for yourself

9 minute read

When it comes to your business, especially as a solopreneuer or freelancer it’s important to know how to communicate when you need a personal day. With the events in this first half of 2020, a lot of us are needing an unexpected day off here and there!

Sometimes, emergencies come up, and you can’t help the fact that you just need a personal day. We’re going to talk about what you can say when these things come up, but also what to do when you just need a vacation overall.

Personal Days Are Important

You don’t have to feel bad about taking one. PERIOD.

Most companies build personal days into their infrastructure. So you, as a freelancer, should build this into the way that you structure a year. Treat your company like an actual business and make sure you give yourself time OFF! You don’t have to feel guilt around this because personal days for fun things (or even for inspiration) are totally valid.

You need to stay fresh as a creative. It’s actually really important that as the only person driving your business forward you stay rested and inspired so you don’t get burnt out. Sometimes that means unplugging for a day.

How Do You Go About Taking a Personal Day?

Communicate with your clients

The first thing you have to do is actually communicate with your clients. You don’t need to explain yourself. You can literally say something as simple as, “Something came up that I need to attend to today.” Your health and mental well-being are totally valid as needs to attend to.

Make sure that you’re considerate of any other moving parts of the project you’re working on. Send some updated ETAs on whatever it is that you’re supposed to be delivering to your client and let them know you appreciate their patience. And overall – keep your schedule for the most part! You want to be known as reliable and dependable.

Here is a copy and paste script you can use!

Hello (Client Name),

I wanted to let you know that something has come up today and I need to take a personal day. I wanted to make you aware because (we had a meeting scheduled, our project has a deadline coming up, you were expecting ____ thing from me).

Our new (ETA on deliverables, meeting time, etc…) will be (fill in date).

Thank you for your patience. It is much appreciated.

You Might Need A vacation

If you have a personal day and then realize you are not feeling better, you might actually need a vacation. I want to clarify a vacation is different than a trip.

I used to think a vacation and a trip where the same thing. I actually went through a season of burnout and talked to another web designer who pointed out I was going on a lot of TRIPS but that trips were not vacations.

Rethink your vacations. A vacation is when you purposely unplug get away and actually change what you are doing. Some ideas for a “travel-light” vacation are to have a staycation, go camping, rent an Airbnb locally, or stay at a fancy resort and treat yourself to a spa day.

Basically, a vacation is just doing anything differently than what you normally do for a few days. Anything that shakes up your routine and feels like you can actually unplug is a vacation.

Some of you guys may feel like you don’t have a week to take off because time is money in your business. If you feel like taking a week off isn’t an option for you, let me just submit to you the idea that you can just take a long weekend. Usually, four or five days (Friday-Monday) is enough to get you going again. You might feel less stressed that way as well.

How do you get ready to take a day off?
Here are 3 things that I do every time I take a vacation…

Hire a business babysitter.

This is usually a virtual assistant or someone qualified to handle my business affairs. I’ll give them a couple of hundred dollars and tell them, “All I need you to do is watch my inbox and watch my website and make sure nothing goes down”.

The next thing to do is write a document for them with logins and information that they may need for managing things for clients while you are out. Give them the ability to contact support channels for your tools while you are out and let them know the parameters for contacting you if there really is an emergency. You have to create the systems for them to follow, and give them the authority to take action if something happens.

Prep Your Clients

Right now, I’m planning for a maternity leave that starts at the end of November and I’m already prepping clients. I am telling them now so they are aware anything they need help with needs to be in earlier than normal. I also help them by sending frequent reminders.

Set Up an Auto Responder

This is the thing I always forget to set up. An autoresponder is simple and lets clients know you are out of the office and when they can expect a reply from you. It helps manage expectation and it helps you rest at ease.

*Pro Tip: Make sure you set an away message on social media if you connect with clients that way as well!

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