How to Unplug on Vacation When You're Self-Employed

One of the things I enjoy about copywriting is that it doesn't insist on stiffness, formality, and perfection. This is not academic writing. And while I'll forever stress the importance of solid grammar, structure, spelling, and proofreading, copywriting allows for so much more freedom with your writing than your college English professor would have appreciated.

I want you to take this freedom and apply it to other parts of your business, as well. That's what I'll be doing soon myself, as I head out on vacation with my partner and his family


It's always hard for freelancers, business owners, and leaders to completely turn off from their work, even on holiday (may I recommend deep woods camping where cell signals don't reach?). But it's important to try as much as possible. Which is why while we're down on the Rhode Island shore, I'll be doing my damnedest to detach and decompress as much as possible.

Rest and rejuvenation are things we all owe to ourselves. But when you run your own business, there are a lot of pressures to remain active and available 24/7/365. It's hard to go on vacation without worrying about how often you should be checking your email and how quickly your customers and clients expect to hear back from you.

We all value providing wonderful customer service, and we feel guilty when it takes us longer than usual to address an email or phone call. But like any business, we need to set parameters based on our own capacities. By laying out clear expectations, we can maintain a happy relationship with our customers. Here are a few everyday tools and strategies to create boundaries that will allow you to take some time off without guilt or worry.

1) Prepare your customers

If you work directly with clients, give them a heads up that you'll be away from Date X to Date Y. Let them know whether you'll be checking your messages during that time, and prepare them that even if you will be checking in on work, it may take you extra time to respond. They'll appreciate the advance notice and will probably refrain from contacting you as much as possible while you're away. Even if they do get in touch, they won't get frustrated or worried wondering why it's taking you longer than usual to get back to them.

This also goes for your Facebook Groups or any other forums you manage, where the members are used to hearing from you on a regular basis. Just let them know what's up and when you'll be back, and you'll find more support than you'd expect. You might even inspire some of them to take high-quality time off, too!

2) Email autoresponder

When the time comes, set an autoresponder on your email letting anyone who emails you know that you'll be unavailable or less available during your vacation. As soon as someone receives that reply, they'll know it's no use bugging you again until you're back.

3) Turn off notifications

If you get email push notifications to your phone, consider disabling them for the length of your holiday. If you need to check your messages or just want to clear out the junk mail on a regular basis, plan a short chunk of time each day, or as infrequently as you can manage, to log in and check your email.

4) Prep as much as possible -- or skip a week

If you'd normally have blogs, newsletters, videos, and social media updates going out during your time away and you want to maintain that schedule, start prepping that content as early as possible, and then use scheduling tools to set it and forget it. And if you want to be completely transparent that you're off on a grand adventure (or enjoying an underrated staycation) while they're reading your content, that's totally cool; they're just going to be happy that you've kept them stocked with new content while you're away.

But I want to advocate for the flip side of this, as well. Depending on how long you're going away and what's going on in your business at the time, consider whether you can skip a newsletter or a blog post or video upload while you're gone. You'll save yourself a lot of doubling-up on content prep if you can, and I can all but guarantee that your audience will forgive you. They're busy with so much, themselves, that they probably won't even notice a short lapse in content, and you can always prepare them for the break in advance.

5) Share Your Whys

If it's appropriate to your business, tell your clients why unplugging is a good thing and how it will benefit you and your business in the long run. More than you realize, your customers and clients want you to be at your best, and if you're clear about the benefits of time off and your timeline for returning, they'll support your self-care, even if they'll miss you.

I hope you all have a chance to take some time off and enjoy the best of this season while feeling confident that your business will be right where you left it when you return!


How do you handle time away from your business? Leave a comment to help others who are navigating this situation.