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Protecting Time Off as a Freelancer or Small Business Owner

Protecting Time Off as a Freelancer or Small Business Owner

As a freelancer or small business owner, you’re no stranger to hard work. In fact, your loved ones might even say you work  too much. (We know how it feels!)

But when it comes time to take time off, it can feel like a huge uphill battle. Clients have too many projects to work on, your emails pile up, and you’ll just have to dig yourself out when you come back online. So what’s even the point?

Well, if you don’t take time off, you already know what will happen. You’ll burn out. Nobody wants that! So, instead of waiting until  you’re forced to take time off, let’s talk about how to take time off and bake it into your business operations so it’s regular and respected. 

More importantly, let’s dig into how to how create contracts that help ensure you can take as much time off as you’d like — whether it’s for a family reunion, the holidays, or anything else. Protect your time off just as much as you  protect your pipeline and your clients! 

How do you make sure work gets done? (And clients stay happy?)

Many of you are probably reading this and thinking that you just have too much work to do to take time off. So you’d be an irresponsible freelancer or business owner if you took time off, right? 

Wrong! Yes, there’s still going to be work that needs to be finished, content that needs to be published, deliverables that need to be sent, and more. That doesn’t mean you should be working to deliver Christmas morning or while you’re on a plane to your vacation! 

Instead, frontload your work where you can. For example, if you’re a  social media manager who regularly delivers 10 social media graphics a month for Client A, with the deadline being 2-3 a week, you can design those graphics and deliver all 10 two weeks before your vacation, giving you plenty of time to handle any revisions needed while still taking time off! 

Inevitably, you will have a client or two who has an “emergency” the night before your vacation or while you’re supposed to be off. If you’ve got that time off in your contract, though, you simply set up an OOO message and can deal with the problem when your return! 

Make sure you’ve got help

One of the biggest reasons we at The Contract Shop® get to take time off in peace is our amazing team. While we all go dark for the holidays, for example, which means we’re all working to get content and projects out the door before that happens! When someone goes on vacation, we have help to step in and take on their role if needed.

When you have freelancers, contractors, and employees that you trust with your business life, it can totally change how you approach vacations and time off.

Of course, make sure you have a solid contract with each team member, as well. We know this can be one of the hardest parts of bringing on new team members, which is why we’ve created our  Ultimate Hiring Bundle! This bundle digs into the nitty gritty of hiring legally and effectively. 

Build systems to work for you

Here’s a question we recommend all business owners ask themselves: Where can I systematize and automate to make my life (and business) easier? 

And yes, this goes for both business AND personal life! Automation isn’t just a great tool for business growth. It’s also extremely helpful in lowering your stress levels and ensuring you can take time off without missing anything. 

Some key automations we recommend business owners use are: 

✨ Client on-boarding/off-boarding (using tools like  HoneyBook!)

✨ Scheduling for meetings (again, using HoneyBook or tools like Acuity/Calendly)

✨ Email automations + autoresponders

✨ Invoice scheduling + reminders

✨ And more

Put a vacation clause in your contract! 

Lastly, the best way to ensure you get guaranteed time off is to  put it in your contract. 

Contracts are legally binding agreements that will absolutely give you recourse to end the client relationship if someone is unable to respect your time off, provided it is stipulated in the contract. 

Our Independent Contractor Agreement, for example, allows you to create a clause or add a section in your contract ensuring you get time off. 

We all want and deserve time off. The thing is, though, unless it’s in your contract, it might not happen. Or people will step on your boundaries, no matter how clear they are. 

Yes, some amazing clients will never send you a text or email on the weekends, during holidays, etc. But there are also those clients who will blow up your phone, no matter what time of day or year — and others who just forget you’re off. 

To protect your time off and make sure you get to take a break around the holidays (and really, whenever you need to), it’s important to plan ahead and  build vacation into your business.

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