5 tips for taking guilt-free holidays as a freelancer

How to get that all-important relaxation time without losing work.

There's a myth about freelance life that it largely comprises lounging around in your pants watching endless box sets. But working for yourself demands the stamina and discipline of a marathon runner.

What's more, while your PAYE counterparts can sit back knowing that a payslip will magically appear in their bank account every month, you've not only got to hustle for the work and then do the work, but you even have to fight to get paid for it too.

Illustration: Jamie Coe

It's exhausting just thinking about it – and yet (unsurprisingly) taking a holiday as a freelancer remains a daunting prospect. But without a rest you risk burnout, and that's the quickest way to lose your clients.

Taking time out as a freelancer is essential. Here are five ways to take holiday as a freelancer without feeling guilty...

01. Turn off out of office

If you're able to check your work email once a day, consider leaving your out-of-office off. Sometimes clients are put off by a ping-back, and will immediately commission someone else rather than risk you turning it down. With no out-of-office, it gives you the opportunity to agree with the caveat of a later start date.

02. Redirect to agent

Illustration: Jamie Coe

If you have an agent and they agree, redirect your emails via them, and ask them to text you if there is a major commission. That way you know you won't miss anything big but won't have to constantly check your mail.

03. Take some work away

Unpaid time-off is hard to do financially, especially if you're just starting your career. Unless it's going to cause massive issues with your nearest and dearest, take a small amount of work on holiday with you, and limit yourself to two hours in the morning and two at night. Check any work before you send it if sangria has been involved.

04. Get creative on holiday

Going somewhere unusual – or just breaking your daily cycle – can provide plenty of ideas for self-initiated projects and an excellent opportunity to gather reference material.

If you see your holiday as part of the creative process, it's easier to be guilt-free. Let your clients or art directors know, so that they can alter their schedules so you have time to work on amends before you leave.

05. Manage your online time

The camps are split between turning everything off (emails and social media) and staying online full-time; in the end, of course, it's totally up to you what will better help you relax.

One thing's for sure: you should only ever deal with things that are absolutely necessary, and leave all other minor things for when you return back from holiday.

The full version of this article first appeared inside Computer Arts issue 246, on sale now, which reveals the UK's top 30 studios and is packed with advice for freelancers.

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