Last week I took the first vacation of my freelance career. I found out I’m not so good at it.
By the end of the week I kind of got the hang of it, but it was hard for me to unplug at first. See, this last year I’ve conditioned myself to go and go and go.
Looking back, it all probably started after having kids…
Our oldest is going to be four this fall. I’ve always been the busy type. I just didn’t really understand what being busy was all about until after I had kids. I thought I knew. But in hindsight, I had no idea!
I’m not saying that if you don’t have kids you’re not busy. It’s just that being a parent to two toddlers brings a whole new definition to busyness for us. It’s what made us want to leave the traditional dual income household lifestyle for the much simpler (and poorer) one of the single income-earner.
Getting back to talking about how I suck at taking a vacation, my inklings were reaffirmed that if I don’t have internet access when I’m not supposed to be working (i.e. evening, weekends and vacation), I’m much better for it. Here are three reasons why I kind of suck at taking vacation.
1. I’ve Programmed Myself for Productivity
As you probably already well know, I started looking into freelancing a little over a year ago, in April of 2014. Once I figured out that freelancing writing was a viable career, I went full steam ahead.
I set my alarm for 4:30 every morning to get in an hour or two of work before the kids woke up and I needed to start getting ready for my day job. I worked every Friday (I had a four-day workweek) on my freelance business. And I hired a babysitter on the weekends from time-to-time to give my SAHD husband a break.
I’m committed to my family – to being the best mother and wife I can be. Now, we’re nowhere near perfect (our son told us on vacation that he wants “new parents” when he didn’t get his way), but they are my priority. So I needed to maximize my time – especially when this was my side hustle (not my full-time thing).
Needless to say, it’s hard to shake that productivity bar I set for myself last year while running two businesses. Now I only have one, so I don’t need to be on point all of the time. But it’s still how I roll…
2. I Can’t Step Away without Losing Money
One of the downsides to being a self-employed webpreneur, is that if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I do have a passive income stream in place through my freelance writing course, but that doesn’t account for the majority of my income.
The majority of my income comes from my performing a service for others – writing, as a virtual assistant or a business coach. With the service side of my business, if I don’t work, I don’t make money.
I can do my writing work in advance, but that’s about it. As a virtual assistant, my main role is to operate as the front-line of my client’s businesses. This means that I need to be present each and every weekday to do my work.
I let both of my VA clients know that I was taking a vacation. I did it during a holiday week (Memorial Day), so in theory I didn’t need to work on Monday, but I did anyway.
I went on vacation to my parent’s cabin, which is in northern Minnesota. They don’t have internet. So when we traveled there for weekends in the past, if we wanted to stay longer, I would have to drive ~10 miles each way into town to work at a coffee shop, public library or bar.
Since I didn’t know when I’d be going into town, if we ended up there, then I tried to log on real quick to check my and my client’s email and work for a bit. It ended up working out well, but I also worked more often than I had planned (seizing all of these opportunities).
3. The Thought of Hundreds of Emails Piling up Drives Me Nuts
This was probably my biggest downfall. I’m type-A to a “T.” Meaning, my brain keeps track of these “little things,” like how many emails might be piling up in my inbox on a daily basis while I’m away.
I only use my gmail email for business purposes. I subscribe to a few newsletters, but only the ones I really want to get. And I still get 50-100 emails per day. And I have a hard time not responding to someone that took the time to send me a real email.
I like to think this is what makes me a good VA. That I treat my client’s businesses like I would my own. I’m sticking by this for now, but it does make it hard to step away!
I know this post is a little bit too much about me, but I’m all about being authentic and telling you how it really is. For the 500th time, I’m not perfect (nor has anyone accused me of being;-) and I fail at things like taking a proper vacation.
My business is alive and well, I did get a break and I’m glad to have had minimal obligations while away. So all in all, it was a win.
We also have a TON of travel coming up this summer, so it’s nice to know that I can maintain a level of balance between work and play. I just hope that somewhere down the line, I’ll figure out how to step back, not worry about money and delegate more of my own stuff, like someone else sorting my email (cringe!).
It’ll be interesting to see how this works out next time. If nothing else, hopefully I’ll take baby steps towards being truly able to unplug. In the meantime, at least I really love my work!
Fellow webpreneurs, are you able to completely step away from your business during vacation? If so, how do you do it?