When Do You Get A Vacation?

As a home-based web designer first starting out, one of the last things on my mind was taking a vacation. I was so happy to get any work that I gleefully did the work at any time without hesitation.

As I found myself lucky enough to start  having a steadier flow of work, I still found it difficult to say no to a client’s need just so I could take a week or so off. It took some advanced planning so I could leave for a vacation without guilt.

I also noticed a couple of patterns. First, when my wife and I scheduled a vacation,  it always seemed that in the weeks leading up to that, instead of being able to clear off my desk, tasks were piling up as more clients were requesting updates to their websites.

And it seemed that clients with work that had been stalled for months while I waited for some piece of content suddenly got the needed photo, logo, or other material to me… and of course because I’d been hounding them, they expected instant turnaround time.

I would leave for vacation feeling guilty for leaving requested changed undone. I would secretly check and reply to emails and voicemail all during my vacation to try to make sure I didn’t miss any critical issues.

Now I’ve learned a few lessons that I’ll pass along in case any of these might help you.

• I plan on that pre-vacation surge of business far in advance.

• I no longer try to hide the fact that I’ll be on vacation. I just say I’ll be away in a couple of weeks and may not have time to make those changes until I return if that’s ok. I have a good enough relationship with my clients that they are delighted to know that I’m getting away for a while. I’ve never had someone insist I complete the task before going on vacation but if they felt it was urgent, I’d try to accommodate them.

• I no longer live a fantasy that I’ll ignore my email and voicemail for a week. It would pile up and besides I’d be a wreak worrying about whether everything was alright anyway. Now I plan on finding a lull once a day to check in. If an email or voicemail must be answered immediately I do so, but I try to put off any actual work until I return.

• Rather than returning voicemails by phone, for chatty clients I usually do so by email so I can control the time it takes.

• I alert my server management company that I will be on vacation. That way they watch the server more closely and handle any issues without bothering me. If a client calls me with email issues, I skip the preliminary troubleshooting and send them directly to the server gurus.

With a bit of advanced planning I can quickly check in, make sure everything is alright, and get back to enjoying my vacation. No stress and no worry.

I hope you can use some of my ideas. Feel free to share your own ideas or questions in the comments section below.

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