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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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