Summer—that time of year when everyone is on holiday, filling your Instagram feed with endless hotdog legs and sun-drenched beach pictures (I’m guilty of that too, though only the latter!). However, as freelancers, summer doesn’t guarantee a holiday. In fact, no time of year does, since there’s no allocated annual leave on the freelance calendar. So today, we’ll look at how to manage leave and holidays as a freelancer…
Do I need annual leave?
If you’ve ever been an employee, you’re probably used to being given a set amount of annual leave per year. As a freelancer, there’s no legal requirement to give yourself leave. But you really should. There’s a reason that employers have to give their employees time off, and it’s because we need it. All work and no play makes dull freelancers, so give yourself regular breaks—even if you don’t want to go anywhere.
How many days?
The next question is how much time you should take off as a freelancer per year. Of course, this depends on each individual, but a good starting point is the legal minimum for employers. In the UK, this is 28 days (or 5.6 weeks) if you work 5 days a week. If your working week differs, you can calculate accordingly. If you want to—and can afford to—take more leave than this, then why not? Being able to take more days off is one of the major benefits of freelancing.
Allocated leave vs. random
If you’ve worked in an office, you probably had to plan your holiday in advance to ensure that everyone wasn’t off at the same time. As a freelancer, there’s no such concern. So do you plan or not plan your time off? There are benefits to both—if you schedule time off, you’re more likely to actually take it. If you don’t, then you can get involved in unexpected things that pop up. In my experience, a mixture of both is ideal, as it gives you definite planned time off to look forward to, but also the flexibility to say yes to exciting, unplanned adventures.
How to prepare
Taking time off as a freelancer can be scary, because you won’t be earning while you’re holidaying, and you might wonder whether your clients will cope without you. To prepare, set aside some extra money in the months leading up to your holiday so you know you’ve got enough to cover your period of not-earning. Prepare your clients by telling them in advance that you’ll be away and what they need to do in your absence (if anything). Set an out of office explaining when you’ll be back, and set yourself as “away” or “unavailable” on any freelancing sites.
How to enjoy your holiday
To truly enjoy your time off, whether you go away or stay at home, there’s a few simple rules to ensure you’ll relax and unwind. The first rule is to switch off. That means turn off the laptop. Shut down your work email on your phone. Don’t take work calls. Don’t think about work. Holiday means holiday, so don’t be tempted to check your work emails and just finish that little project off.
There is no second rule—do whatever feels good for you!
Have you taken a holiday this year as a freelancer? Were you tempted to work during your leave? How many days leave do you take per year as a freelancer? Comment below or get in touch…
Stay tuned for more freelance tips every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on A Freelance Life. Got any questions? Feel free to suggest a topic for our next blog.