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One downside of being your own boss is that you don’t get vacation time. So you need to prepare to take time off as a blogger or freelancer.
The good news? It’s absolutely possible!
1. Make a List of Everything
When I know I’m going to need to take some time off, I start by making a list of tasks that will need done during the days I’m unavailable. On this list I include:
- Any articles I need to write for my clients
- Virtual assistance work I need to do for clients
- Titles of blog posts I want to write for my two blogs
- Any homeschool review posts I need to write for my homeschooling blog
- The topics I want to cover for my Friday videos
- What I want to cover in my Thursday newsletter
Those are all business tasks. I also include some life stuff such as:
- Clean the fridge
- Arrange for someone to care for animals
Whatever you need to do before you leave, write it down. You want to see everything to help you plan. Including both life and business gives you a better big picture view. After all, you’re a mompreneur – not just a business owner!
Code Your List
Once I have my list, I start coding it. If it’s something I can do ahead of time, I use one color highlighter. If it’s something that needs done while I’m off, I use another. I also use a color if it’s something that doesn’t actually need done during this time (ie if it’s more flexible and I can just put it off a week or two.)
I typically take time to rewrite my list once I have it coded. The original list turns into three:
- Things to do before I leave
- Tasks to do while I’m away (<= I keep this list as short as possible!)
- Things to do ASAP when I get back
I take the things to do ASAP when I get back list and put it aside. Thinking about these tasks now will only clutter my mind and get me distracted. They’re written down and I know I can worry about them after I get back.
The best way to prepare to take time off as a blogger and freelancer is to get as much done ahead of time as possible. I typically start my planning a month ahead of time, so I have plenty of time to get through my work ahead list.
During this period, I try to fit one extra task into each day. Sometimes this is enough, occasionally I’ll need to add a few more in during the days right before I leave.
Working ahead works best for tasks that:
- Have a set due date
- You know what’s expected
- Doesn’t need to be done at a set time (like some VA work does)
- Is for your own blog
So while preparing for a two-week trip to Missionary Candidate Seminar, I looked at all my upcoming due dates while making my work ahead list. I wanted to:
- Write an automotive post for a client
- Create two posts on online business stuff for another client
- Write two posts for this blog
- And two posts for my other blog
- Complete a homeschool review for my other blog
- Write a guest post on family road trip tips
- Record two videos
- Draft two newsletters
I typically go Live on Fridays, but I wasn’t sure I’d have time to do that while on this trip. So I opted to pre-record the videos. Then I went into Facebook and scheduled them for publication on the Fridays. My videos will be slightly different (not live), but will still get done!
I also don’t typically schedule my newsletters ahead of time. In fact, I had to look up how to do it in ConvertKit to make sure I did it right. (And since they haven’t gone out yet, I’m still slightly paranoid that they’ll either not go out, or that they’ll go out when they aren’t supposed to…)
But, you can use schedulers to help you get ahead. That’s what I’m doing with my blog posts!
Once I knew what writing projects I had to do, I looked at my calendar. Then I started jotting down when I’d do each one. I work better when I give myself deadlines. Otherwise I tend to put them off…
Start Checking Things Off
I love making an actual list for this, so I can check them off as I complete them. Seeing the list with items crossed off motivates me to continue.
You might do better with an electronic list or another format – do what works for you!
Make It Easy on Yourself
Instead of writing entirely new blog posts for your own blog, can you repurpose something you’ve already written? For my homeschool blog, I revamped two posts I’d published on a site I decided to take down.
Anything you can do to make your list easier, the better. You have a ton to do, and don’t want to wear yourself too thin before you leave.
Can you arrange for guest posts? Or put together a round-up post? You can even hire a freelance writer to create content for you.
Even if these aren’t things you normally do, they’ll help you through this busy period of preparation.
You may also consider not publishing while you’re away.
Make sure your client work is covered, but if you are feeling too stressed trying to get prepared, just let your audience know that you are taking a short blogging break.
Remember to come back to your blog again though. Many bloggers I used to follow published regularly until they took a short break. Then they just disappeared for months, or even years. Once you’re out of the habit, it’s easy to stay out.
What You Can’t Do Ahead of Time
So, I looked at my schedule for our trip and penciled in some time in the early morning to work on that. By doing all my clients in one morning, I can ensure I’m not working the whole time. During this work time, I can also respond to emails and make sure everything is running smoothly.
Your options for work that needs done while you’re away:
- Turn part of your vacation into a workcation
- Hire someone else to do it for you (make sure it’s someone you trust – your reputation depends on it! And this works better for tasks that don’t require logging into someone elses’ account.)
- Talk to your client about taking a break from the work
Only you can decide what route is best. If you’re going to be traveling where you might not have a stable internet connection, make sure you have a backup plan!
Cut Back Your Expectations
I know I won’t be as active on social media while I’m gone. I’m not planning on participating in the daily share threads I typically do.
My blog probably won’t be growing in leaps and bounds during this time. I don’t anticipate signing on new clients during these two weeks either.
But, that’s okay. Time away is good, and will help you recharge your batteries. You can’t give yourself entirely to your business.
Cut back your expectations for this time. Keep your to-do on vacation list as short as you can. Otherwise you’ll wind up discouraged, grumpy, and burnt-out because you’ll feel like you’re spending your whole trip working.
Little periods of your business being stagnant are okay. Just do the bare minimum and then jump back into your full plan when you return.
Preparing to Work While Gone
There are a few things you can do to make working while away easier. For instance, I’m planning to:
- Pack my laptop and mouse (along with an extra battery for my mouse just in case…)
- Bring along my Verizon JetPack so I can use the internet as long as I have a signal
- Having a clear to-do list prepared so I stick to what actually needs done and don’t get sidetracked on things that aren’t as important
I’m also doing a few things to ensure I don’t get sucked into my work too much. These include:
- Shutting off the work email on my phone so I’m not constantly checking it
- Removing all notifications and banners for social media
- Asking my husband to check in on me while I’m working and ask specifically if I got certain tasks done
How Do You Prepare to Take Time off as a Blogger & Freelancer?
If you have planned time off coming up, what are you doing to prepare? I’d love for you to share your tips in the comments.