Tag Archives: small business

Working From Home: Taking Time Off/Vacation


Important: This is the last article for 2023. (Aside from December’s Product Review) I’ll be taking the last half of December and first half of January off from posting.

I’ll be back January 12th, 2024 with the first short story of the new year! (The first article will go up January 15th)

Knowing when/if you should take a vacation or time off from work is confusing at best. But it’s even worse when you work for yourself.

It’s not like you can ask the boss and get your request approved or rejected and that’s that because well, you are the boss! And being your own boss, while full of amazing benefits can also muddy the waters on important things.

You’re the boss, so you have to decide how much or how little you work. Not only does this have the potential to muddy your day-to-day life, but what about big upcoming events? A wedding? A funeral? Some kind of emergency?

Outside of emergencies, how do you decide if you’ve ‘earned’ a vacation? Is it once you’ve finished x amount of work? Is it after x amount of ‘work days’? Sure you could give yourself a certain amount of days off at the beginning of the year, but as we’ve established you are the boss. What are the real consequences if you take a not-scheduled day off? It’s not like you can call yourself into your office and yell at yourself.

I touched on this in my Time Management post, but working from home can severely blur the lines between your work and home life. Feeling guilty for not working when you’re trying to relax at 9pm in your living room is one thing, but actually scheduling yourself a vacation for your stay-at-home job?

Unfortunately society doesn’t help with the pressure that if you work from home (as an entrepreneur) you don’t need time off. It’s not ‘real’ work, right?


Running your own business – especially your own in-the-arts business – usually comes with more work related stress. The stress of making it, doing literally all the jobs (boss, social media manager, booking clients/selling pieces, content creation, customer service, etc.), the aforementioned blurred lines of home and work life, convincing the people around you that the work you’re doing is ‘actual’ work… the list goes on.

You also usually have to be more strategic in your vacation/time off planning. Most (good) 9-5 jobs will give you paid time off, but when you work for yourself, when you take time off, you lose money. And not to mention, you also ‘lose’ time to schedule, or update, or whatever your business. Because everything rests on your shoulders, if you decide to take time off, your business essentially freezes until you come back.

Even if you have passive income, you’re still essentially losing momentum.

So what are you to do if you’re a burnt-out artist? Do you just keep ‘sucking it up’ and plowing ahead?

No, you shouldn’t. Not only is that not healthy for you, it’s actually not healthy for your business, either.

You’ll work much more productively after you’ve given yourself a break. But how do you decide when that time is?

Well I can’t tell you definitively. What works for me may not work for you. And what works for you may not work for someone else. That said, you can try one of the methods above and see if they fit:


  1. Give Yourself a Set Amount of Days Off

Calculate how many days off you can take without hurting your business/losing too much money to bankrupt yourself, and then write them down either in a list or on your calendar.

If you’re not sure, take a look at some 9-5 jobs that offer vacation days and base your number on theirs. If you think you’ll need more, give yourself more, if less, take less.

This also doesn’t have to be a number you stick with forever. At the end of the year, evaluate yourself. Would you have benefited from taking more or less time off? Readjust the number and try again next year. Keep experimenting until you get it right.


  1. Take a Project-Related Vacation

Tell yourself once you finish a certain project, you’ll take a set number of days off. The project can be anything from finishing half your book, to scheduling three months worth of work. This one will depend a lot on the type of business you have.

This type of vacation based days also has the potential to help you be more productive. If you know you get two (or however many) days off after you finish a project, you might be more inclined to not put it off.


  1. Calendar Based Time Off

Some companies use quarterly reports to review things like their earnings, productivity, etc. You could give yourself time off the same way. Tell yourself once a quarter (four months), you’ll get a set number of days off.

Or, tell yourself at the beginning or end of the year, you’ll take a set amount of days off. If you’ve been around here a while, you’ll know that with my website, I take the last half of December and first half of January off from posting every year.

For example, this means that this year (2023) I’m off December 13th until January 12th. This gives me about 1 month to relax, go through the holidays, visit family and start gearing up for the next year.

If you decide to try this method, make sure to let your clients/customers/readers know a few weeks beforehand that you’ll be taking time off/away during a certain period of time. This way they don’t wonder what happened/go somewhere else while you seemingly disappeared.

Whatever method you decide to try to give yourself a break, make sure that when those days roll around you actually take them. No pushing them off to a different day, no “oh well after I finish this” – no. Stop. Pushing back vacation days is a great way to put you right back down the path to burn out.

Remember: vacations only work if you actually take them.

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Working From Home: Focusing


While I think I touched on this in my Top 5 Pros and Cons of Working From Home article, I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to perhaps the biggest/hardest part about working from home: focusing.

(If you live alone feel free to disregard most of the following)

When you’re working from home – especially a home that you share with others – sh*t is gonna get loud, especially around the time everyone else comes in from work. They just got back from work, so they want to relax with watching T.V., playing video games, and they most definitely need to cook dinner. You may need to call/text friends and family through out the day, go to the store and if there are pets you need to attend to?

And that’s not even mentioning digital distractions, like social media. So, with all these distractions, how are you ever going to focus? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated: You just gotta make yourself do it.

Whether this means waking up earlier/staying up later than everyone else so you can have a few hours of quiet, working with headphones on, or having a dedicated ‘work’ room (or space), do something that will allow you to get your shit done.

Is it fair that you may have to work around others’ schedules just so you can get what you want done? Not really. But what is the other option? Sitting there doing nothing day after day when you could be working? Everybody has to start somewhere, and one day when you’re in the middle of living your dream, you’ll thank your past self for taking the initiative.

Anything that’s worth getting is worth the work.

If interruptions are unavoidable/people absolutely need to talk to you, maybe try giving them certain times they can interrupt you. Like a short recess, it allows you a quick break from your work, and allows the people in your life to not feel like you’re blowing them off. As your list of things that need to get done grows, it will be increasingly good to schedule yourself breaks and check-in times with those around you, so you don’t go down the work spiral. It can be hard to keep to your scheduled breaks, but working constantly isn’t good for your health. And, there are studies that show that constantly working and not taking breaks can actually make you less productive.

I actually gave myself a ‘quitting time’ of 8pm. This may sound late, but since most days I wake up at 10am, it’s actually only 9 hours of work a day – which is only 1 hour more than the typical 9-5.

I also usually write with headphones on, so if people are talking, being loud, etc. it doesn’t usually bother me. And, if I need extra non-distractions? I just close my door. (My desk is set up in my bedroom.)

Everyone in my house knows that if my door is closed, not to bother me, unless it’s really important. Or, a less invasive way to get my attention? Shoot me a text! I always have my phone to the left of my computer, so I can see it light up. This system has been working since I started publishing books in 2016, and so far there haven’t been many issues. (This may be because my mom is also a freelance writer, so she understands the need for space)

However, as life tends to do, things won’t always run smoothly. No matter how many scheduled times/breaks, meetings times, etc. you have, some days it will just feel like people can not give you time to yourself to complete your work. I understand the frustration (trust me), but try not to let this get you agitated. Sure, it’s annoying, but these people care about you, and chances are they don’t realize they’re being annoying.

This is why having a conversation about what you need to be productive can help. (Instead of not saying anything and then blowing up at people when they do the thing that’s secretly been annoying you) I’ve found most people aren’t actively trying to be assholes/annoying, etc. so just tell them what you need so you can get things done.

Okay, I feel like maybe things got a bit muddled up there (I was actually writing this while fielding interruptions… go figure!), so in the interest of keeping things simple:

Ways to Focus:

  • Get up earlier/stay up later than others
  • Work with headphones on
  • Have a designated ‘work’ space (that people know not to bother you)
  • Schedule breaks/check-ins with people so they don’t constantly interrupt (or feel ignored)

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