Entrepreneurs Need Vacation Days Too, Okay?
How to give yourself some head space from the hustle.
The benefits of being an entrepreneur are, in my opinion, endless. Flexible hours, no cap on your earnings, creative freedom, and the opportunity to be your own boss. With these benefits also comes the lack of formal benefits provided to you by a full-time 9-5 job, which is where those precious vacation days come in (not to mention health and dental benefits). There’s no head honcho telling you that you can’t have the day off to get highlights and organize your sock drawer, but there’s also no paid for, formally appointed days reminding you to take a break every once in a while. In my experience, this, combined with the financial and ego-driven stories we tell ourselves as entrepreneurs, can result in some serious self-employed burnout. So, I am here today to make a case for the entrepreneur vacation day – and why you should make them a priority:
One of my favorite things about a new year is looking ahead to the next twelve months and planning getaways and rest days. While you won’t be formally submitting this time for approval from your boss (barf), planning ahead will allow you to schedule your work accordingly, so this time away is as restorative as possible. When you go into a new project with a client, make sure that any away time you have scheduled is discussed upfront. That way, deadlines and project milestones can be planned accordingly, so when you head to the beach – or even just take some time to relax at home – you can totally unplug.
OOO and Good to Go
Is there any better feeling than setting your out-of-office and getting the hell outta Dodge? No, the answer is no. The out-of-office is something that entrepreneurs are often afraid to make use of because of the belief that we need to be always on, or that if we do go offline, clients will lose trust and work will disappear. This is false! Think of the out-of-office as a powerful stand for personal and professional boundaries, and a tool for setting your clients (current and future) up to know what to expect from you. As a thought starter, your out-of-office could look something like this:
I am taking the week to recharge in Hawaii. I will not be checking my email or Slack, but will be back up and running on January 27th! Look forward to chatting with you then.
Yes, hopping on a plane is key for recharging your batteries, but as a self-employed person, you also need to carve out regular space in your calendar so you resist the all-to easy urge to be available to your clients 24/7. Something I am looking to experiment with more is the concept of “office hours.” Similar to how your professors in university may have provided set hours within which you could lean on them for questions or support, you can do the same with your clients. You can communicate your preferred office hours with them at the beginning of a project, or check in throughout to let them know the best times to reach you. There are always circumstances where you may need to hop online outside of these hours, but having some semblance of boundaries is crucial for your mental sanity and the quality of your work.
The “Just Because” Day
Being self-employed can be a financial roller coaster, so a full-on vacation might not always be in the cards. That said, you should still embrace the flexibility in your schedule and find time for those “just because” days where you unplug, unwind, and do anything but work. Try to ensure you are communicating when you will be offline with your clients so you can fully enjoy the time to yourself. The beautiful thing about being an entrepreneur is having the freedom to create the space outside the bounds of the 9 to 5 life. A random Tuesday at the beach? Totally. A Monday in bed with Netflix? It’s all there for you. It might feel indulgent, but trust me, it’s critical to your success.
Rest is the Real Work
Yes, finding clients (and keeping them happy) is tough. So is balancing deadlines, tax season, and managing your cash flow. But the real work is in the ability to take the rest you need. As entrepreneurs, we’ve chosen a less conventional path that sometimes make us feel like we aren’t deserving of a break, and that we must always be hustling. I’ve been in that headspace one too many times, but what I can tell you is this: money and work will always come, but your physical and mental health is an asset you don’t want to mess with. So take the day, the week, the month! You beyond deserve it.
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