A Reminder to Take Time Off
As I write this, I’m riding a bus back to Chicago with my Bose headphones covering my ears to block out the sounds of rattling windows and chatty passengers. I need to physically recover from a road trip to Mississippi, which I embarked on with my nuclear and extended family for an annual family reunion.
When I arrived in Michigan and told my mom that I didn’t bring my computer, she gasped, “You’re unplugging?!” Honestly, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I finished up my edits so I could be present, I told my mom. And besides, whatever came through my email inbox on Monday could be handled via email, I reasoned.
I can understand her reaction. After all, freelancing means not having paid time off and having to budget conservatively for travel and leisure. She knows that if I don’t write, I don’t eat.
The weekend turned out to be hot, long and loving. I saw family members of mine that I didn’t know I had. I felt the warm southern rain on my skin just before turned into a storm. When the air conditioning went out on our RV, I sweated and crevices I didn’t even know head sweat glands.
But in between the loving and suffering, I noticed that I wasn’t on Twitter that much, nor was I checking emails and working nonstop. The trip was a healthy reminder that it’s OK to not be working.
And even if you’re not a freelancer, American culture is littered with hustle rhetoric. Everybody has their side hustle or they’re putting in extra work at their full-time job or they’re cobbling together income from multiple jobs. Wouldn’t it be easier if we all made enough money from one full-time job or a handful of high-paying freelance clients? Should we have to hustle to make ends meet if were working 40 or more hours per week? If nothing else, this weekend was a reminder that taking time off is a radical act in a world that glamorize is working too hard. And you cannot give your freshest inspiration if your brain has not been exposed to new experiences.
If you’re on the verge of burnout, it’s time to take a trip. A 2019 Honeybook report said that 92% of freelancers work while on vacation.
As a freelancer, it’s easy to get caught on this hamster wheel of constantly marketing yourself and working on projects that you hope will lead to the next gig. It’s also common to feel that lingering fear that stopping could lead to a period of famine for your business.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for me. When I returned from my trip, I found emails from a couple clients asking for assignments or sending me edits for stories I’ve already written.
And though my body was tired from sleeping in spurts on the road and laughing and eating with my family, my mind felt refreshed. I was so ready and grateful to return to work when I got back, because I had way too many distractions to be tuned into social media and work.
If you’ve been waiting to take a trip this summer or this fall, do it. Save some money so that you can have a comfortable experience. Go by yourself or with someone you can have fun with. But whatever you do, don’t forget to take time for yourself. Life is too short not to.
Have you taken a trip this summer? How did you balance it with your freelance work? Did you have fun? Tell me in the comments or email me at email@example.com