Summer is here at last and for many, thoughts turn to taking time off to relax and have fun. Vacations make us feel good but they’re slipping from the grasp of an increasing number of workers, most notably the country’s 57.3 million Freelancers (2017 data), who receive no paid vacation benefit. In fact, we pay twice for our vacations. The first hit happens because we stand to lose money when we don’t work. The second hit occurs when paying for the vacation itself, if we choose to travel. Vacations are an expensive proposition for us. Yet, they are an investment in our well-being and they are worthwhile.
Numerous studies show that we become psychologically healthier, we have a more positive outlook on life and we’re more resilient when we regularly take vacations. We’re also more productive, better problem solvers and more inclined to create and achieve business and personal goals. It’s been amply documented that uber analyst Sigmund Freud was especially fond of vacations and he took great pleasure in personally planning his family’s annual summer get aways.
I’ll take my usual mini-vacation this summer and with some advance planning, I’ll bet you can, too. No matter when you’re able to get away for a few days, or even if you opt for a “stay-cation” and take local day trips or just unplug from the daily grind, planning will be the key.
Step One of your vacation planning is to consider your business cycle so you can arrange to slip in a vacation during the usual slow periods. In most industries, the Christmas to New Year’s Day period is very slow and the final week or two in August is almost as dormant. However, for wedding planners and those who participate in that industry, summer vacations are out of the question because it’s your busiest season. If you’re an accountant, celebrating Valentine’s Day at Punta Cana is something you’ll never do, because it’s tax season from January – April. If you are in certain retail businesses, then traveling is out of the question between October 1 and Christmas Eve.
When you see a gap in your schedule of projects, pounce. “Stay-cations” are of course a lot easier to fit in. You just have to do it. Maybe you can schedule a spa “stay-cation” that’s spread out over three or four days, when you’ll schedule a massage one day, a mani /pedi the next, a facial the day after and so on? You might also visit a museum or find a free outdoor music performance nearby.
Step Two entails your vacation budget. Wherever you’d like to go, you probably already have an idea of the cost. Research the price of air fare if you must fly and compare traditional B & B, airbnb and small hotel room rates. Start setting aside funds that will get you to your preferred destination several months in advance.
Step Three will find you plotting out your work load, to ensure that all projects are completed by their deadlines and all milestones reached as promised. In some instances it will be necessary to inform certain clients (a month in advance) that you’ll be away for a few days but ideally, you’ll schedule the vacation when you know you’ll be between projects.
Create a spreadsheet with all project tasks listed, with milestone and deadline dates noted, so you can plan and pace your work load 4 – 6 weeks in advance of your vacation date. Do you publish a blog or newsletter that would appear while you’re on vacation? Add your content marketing to the spreadsheet as well, so you’ll have time to write posts and schedule them for automatic publishing on the desired dates. You may need to work a few nights and weekends to ensure that all work is completed, but you’ll have something to look forward to, right? While you’re at it, make a post vacation to-do list that will be ready for you when you return, to give yourself a stress-free re-entry.
Finally, take care of your accounts receivable so that cash-flow will not be interrupted, a very important matter when paying for a vacation. Ready all invoices, attach to the appropriate emails and save as drafts. On invoicing days, go into your phone and send from anywhere in the world.
So get away from it all and enjoy yourself! Even if your schedule and budget won’t allow you to spend two weeks in Buenos Aires or Marrakesh, taking one or more short vacations throughout the year is also beneficial, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life. The study researchers queried 974 Dutch vacationers and found that the excitement and anticipation associated with vacation planning delivers more of the psychological and physical benefits than the vacation itself and those benefits are multiplied when vacations of any length are taken throughout the year.
Thanks for reading,
Photograph: © Rachel Landau
Go with the Flow, a sand sculpture designed and built by Melineige Beauregard of Quebec, Canada for the 14th Annual Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival (2017) in Revere, MA