Those are the rewards that await you IF you survive the insanely stressful, tense days before you finally whisk yourself and your loved ones away.
When I started my own freelancing business five years ago, I suffered a number of pre-vacation symptoms – including short temper and scattered brain – prior to departing for our family get-aways. While those things afflicted me when I was on a corporate career path, they intensified after I became a solopreneur. The pressures of wrapping things up are a wee bit more demanding than when I had colleagues within a department to cover for me while I was gone.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With some thought and planning, you can make preparing to go away a less harrowing experience.
Solopreneurs’ Pre-vacation Survival Guide
Here are my ready-set-don’t-fret tips for getting your act together before you leave your office.
- Let clients know you’ll be going out of town.
Don’t only inform them about when you’ll be gone; also let them know on what date you’ll no longer be working on assignments. For example, if your plane leaves for Florida on Tuesday, August 5, you might decide you won’t work on client projects after Friday, August 1.I typically give myself at least one business day off before I leave because I always discover there are eleventh hour errands to run and personal tasks to tend to. You might also want to include the day after you return as an off-limits day so you can catch up on things at home or administrative tasks. Email the dates of your unavailability to your clients at least one month in advance. If you tell them by phone, email them a reminder. They’re human after all, and they’re likely to forget exactly when you said you’ll be leaving and when you’ll be back.
- Reschedule assignments that would be due during the week(s) you’re on vacation.
You’ve got the responsibility to come through for your clients. Plan to get their work done before you leave for vacation. About one month before you depart, schedule assignments on your calendar throughout the week or two before you leave so you’ve reserved ample time to complete them. Your clients will appreciate your reliability – and you won’t have to play catch up when you return home.
- Resist taking on new assignments the week before you leave.
Yes, the money will look awfully attractive because you know you’ll probably be spending lots of it during your vacation. But if a prospect or client brings a new project your way just before you leave, ask if you can begin to work on it after you return. Remember, in adherence to the last bullet point, you’ve already scheduled client work for that week before vacation. And then there’s always the unexpected that can – and likely will – pop up just as you’re starting to have visions of palm trees and margaritas dancing in your head. Don’t load up your pre-vacation week too heavily, or you could find yourself scrambling.
- Schedule your blog posts and social media updates.
Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean your marketing efforts have to go on a hiatus, too. You can still keep your blog and social media accounts afloat by writing your posts and updates ahead of time and scheduling them to publish while you’re gone. If you have a WordPress blog, you can future-date posts. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer make it easy to schedule social media updates, plus Facebook has built-in scheduling capabilities.
- Pay your bills in advance.
If you’re not set up for automatic payments, schedule time in advance to take care of any bills that will be due while you’re gone. This year, my Verizon Wireless and Visa payments will be due during my vacation, so I’ve created an appointment on my Google Calendar to remit them the week before I leave. That helps me in two ways: 1. They won’t slip my mind. 2. I won’t lose sleep over worrying about them slipping my mind.
- Set up your automated email vacation response.
Don’t haggle with this at the last minute. Do it at least a week or two in advance so you’re done with it. Set it so people know when you’ll be unavailable, which would include the time before and directly after vacation when you’ll be preparing to leave or catching up after you return.
- Change your voice mail greeting on your office phone and mobile phone.
Obviously, you wouldn’t want to do this too far in advance of your vacation, but take care of it the day before you’ll no longer be available to field client calls.
- Create an instructions sheet for the person(s) who will be looking after your home while you’re gone.
If you’ve got a house/pet sitter who takes care of your home and furry family members when you’re on vacation, you can avoid the worry of “Did I tell them everything they need to know?” by creating an instructions sheet. We’ve used one for the past several years, and we update it each time we go away if anything has changed. We include: our dog’s feeding and medication schedule, our plants’ watering schedule (I’ve got 40 outdoor potted plants in a variety of places, so yes, this is a necessity!), the combination for opening our garage door with the outdoor keypad, swimming pool care instructions, our mobile phone numbers, our home’s landline voice mail password, location of our vacuum cleaner, local emergency contacts, and most important – our Wi-Fi password!
I know. It sounds like a lot of work. But when you’ve got everything in order ahead of time, you can spare yourself the debilitating rush of cortisol that comes from frantically taking care of loose ends at the last minute.
Try it, and I think you’ll agree; you’ll relax more easily and enjoy that first vacation cocktail so much more by planning for your departure in advance.
By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post
[Image is from one of our past vacations at South Padre Island TX]
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