Get Away from it All

Get Away from it All

Sacha Cohen writes for – a Ms.Money partner.

Between running your own business and juggling projects, who has time to go on vacation? For many independent professionals, the mere thought of taking time off often seems impossible. But, as anyone who has been solo for a while will tell you, vacations — whether they are for a weekend or a month — are essential to your sanity, your productivity, and the long-term success of your business.

Rule #1: Give your clients plenty of notice and tie up loose ends. When’s the right time to let your clients know that you’ll be unavailable? Well, that depends on the type of work you do and how long you will be away. In my case, all of my projects have very firm deadlines, so if I’m going away, I clear my schedule for the time I’ll be on vacation and finish up projects well ahead of time. If you plan to be away for more than a week, you should give clients at least a month’s notice.

Rule #2: Make sure you have some projects lined up when you return. Before going away, schedule a few projects that you’ll be able to throw yourself into post-vacation. In my case, I make sure I have a day or two to get settled back into my work life before any projects are due. Remember, the longer you’re away, the more time you’ll need to re-adjust and catch up on your voicemail and e-mail.

Here are some ideas, from mini-vacation to full-blown sabbaticals, that every eWorker should consider.

Play Hooky. Don’t overlook the value of day-trips or even just a day off. Go golfing, schedule a full day of pampering at a local day spa, visit museums, or go to the movies. One of the perks of working for yourself is that you can take a day off mid-week if your schedule permits. It’s amazing how even a short break can help renew your mind and spirit.

Make Time for Quick Escapes. What many people don’t realize is that even a three-day weekend getaway can be very rewarding. For example, I recently visited a spa in West Virginia for two days. During that time, I went horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, and even got a massage. Being away from e-mail and the phone for a short time helped me relax, and when I returned home, I was rejuvenated and ready to get back to work. Remember: It’s generally much easier to squeeze a few short getaways into your schedule than it is to plan a three-week vacation, so don’t overlook the benefits of quick escapes. Pull out your calendar, mark all the national holidays and three-day weekends that most “regular” employees will have off and try to schedule your breaks around them.

Combine Business and Pleasure. I’ve found that one of the best ways to avoid feeling guilty about vacations is to turn business trips into mini-vacations. For example, you might attend a two-day conference and extend your stay through the weekend during which time you can forgo work and just have a good time. Recently, I flew to L.A. for the Internet World conference, and was able to tack on a few extra days in nearby Santa Monica to visit friends.

Take a Sabbatical. After my first year in business, I decided to reward myself with a three-week vacation to Europe. I had about four months to plan my vacation, tell my clients, and get all my projects finished before taking off. The key here is planning — not only financially, but mentally as well. Figure out how much time you can afford to be away, what you can spend, and what type of trip you’ve always been itching to take. If you don’t prepare properly, you’ll end up spending precious R&R time worrying about the state of your business when you return.