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Time Out: You Need a Break, But How To Take It?

Written By: Erica Winston

Topic: Vacations: Making It Happen
It is the paradox of self-employment: schedule flexibility is one of the biggest perks, yet fears about losing clients and income keep many of us from taking the breaks we so desperately need.

“Everybody needs a break,” says Gene Fairbrother, a small-business consultant for the National Association for the Self Employed. “Isn’t that what we work for? We work to do what we want with our time.”

There are ways to take time off. And healthcare practitioners who do, say a respite from work is a business necessity to ensure you are rested and recharged, and able to continue providing the best service to your clients. But for the self-employed, taking time off requires careful planning and execution.

You need to set your revenue planning and your pricing to cover your vacation plans. If you need x number of sessions a week, add one to your goals to cover vacation costs including missed revenue. Or set up a “vacation fund” where you put one session a month into a savings plan.

Here are suggestions to make it feasible:

• Get a credit card that gives you miles for airline tickets – most give you a bonus for signing up so you can get a free ticket fairly quickly.

• Clump appointments in the slower months, like the summer, so you can create long weekend opportunities. Leaving Saturday evening, and taking Sunday and Monday can give you a welcome break – without really loosing any sessions. This takes planning ahead, so you block off the Monday on your calendar way ahead of time.

• Share vacation “backups” with a respected colleague. Trade vacation referrals, so that your clients will have someone to go to in need while you are away. Your clients will feel cared for if you give them an option when you go on a 2-week vacation.

• Use voicemail wisely. If you are just taking a weekend, don’t leave a vacation message. Instead check your voicemail once a day to handle scheduling appointments. Just offer them availability for the days you get back. It is not a problem to say you are already booked for that Monday – you ARE booked with yourself to get a break! For longer vacations, get a friend to answer your phone and schedule for you. If you forgo leaving a vacation message on your voicemail, your clients will leave messages and you’ll be busy when you get back!

• Tell your clients that you are planning a vacation and when. You are setting an example of self-care. Be what you preach – take care of yourself emotionally and physically with breaks from your routine.

• Look at last year’s calendar and pick a slow time for vacations. For many practitioners, early January or July 4th week is normally a slow time. Perfect for that much-deserved break!

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.

--James Dent

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