As I type this, the summer holidays are just around the corner, and as I have written previously about juggling freelance life with time off with the kids, today I wanted to talk about one VERY important element of switching off.
This means boundaries with yourself, but also setting those expectations with clients and colleagues! If you’re not taking your phone away with you, tell them so they won’t try and call you; if you’re not going to do emails, set that out of office!
A couple of weeks ago, I sent this email to all my wonderful clients and they were 100% on board…
The school holidays are also looming as is my two-week break so I thought this would also be a good opportunity to let you know of my plans on managing work while juggling looking after the boys over the summer.
I’ll be on holiday from 5 August for two weeks
My plan is to have a complete switch-off break. I have been working with an associate VA more this year and so if you’ll need cover in that time, please let me know so that I can make arrangements. As ever, I’ll get as up-to-date as possible before I go and aim to get everything up-to-speed as soon as I return.
The summer holidays start on 24 July and school begins again on 3 September. My plan for the summer holidays to make both work and parenting balanced is to work Monday-Friday 8am-12pm. I’ll make sure I have an autoresponder on my emails during this time reminding you of this and will pick up on extra work during the evenings if I need to but I hope you understand that I want to enjoy some time with the boys too.
My youngest also starts school this September and has a delayed and phased start so there will be a lot of to-and-fro’ing in the first few weeks of September. Should all be settled down by the middle of the month. Just a heads up to bear with me!
People don’t like surprises, so if you can let them know in advance that you’re going to be unplugging and dancing barefoot on the beach now is the perfect time to let them know (they might even take a hint from you and switch off themselves!)
So what other steps have I been implementing to manage the busy-ness (and business) recently?
- I have an associate VA to call on when things get really busy.
- I’ve removed all work-related apps from my phone – including email. Terrifying but necessary to allow me to switch off properly in the evenings and not be distracted by notifications when the boys are around.
- I’ve blocked out and allocated time in my calendar so that I only focus on those clients/tasks in that time – with room for flexibility and urgent tasks of course.
- I’ll be adding a standard autoresponder to my email reminding senders of my working hours and when they can expect a response from me.
- I’ve actually made a plan for the summer holidays for the first time in 3 years – woohoo!
There you have it – the boundaries I’ve been setting with myself and clients to make this summer a breeze! Will you be implementing any of these?