When I came down with the flu last month, I had to take a day off from working for my freelance clients. I can’t think of the last time that happened. A sick day.

Now that summer is here, the temptation to take some vacation time looms as large as the thermometer in the corner of my computer screen.

What about time off for freelancers?

Full-time employees understand how important it is to have time for yourself and your family outside of work. They get weekends, holidays as well as paid vacation and sick days. But when a day off means losing a day’s pay, is it still worth it?


Although sick days are not ideal when you just have the sniffles, the time you take to heal will most likely be shorter if you rest and let yourself recuperate. If you do work a day or two while you’re under the weather, you could find yourself worse and have to take more time off than you ever intended.

Vacation days or even just long weekends are also times to recharge, revive your creativity, engage in your hobbies and get some exercise. All of those activities can also increase your productivity better than if you would have kept your nose to the grindstone.

What are the secrets of taking time off?

  1. Transparency–If you are too sick to work, communicate that to your clients. They will understand. It happens, and they should understand. If there is someone else who can cover for you or deal with emergencies, let them know as well.
  2. Plan ahead—As soon as you know the dates when you will be taking personal time off, let your clients know. Also identify whether you will be contactable during this time, checking in, or doing any work while you are away. This is even more important if you are going completely “off the grid” or maybe somewhere you might not be reachable. 
  3. Don’t feel guilty—You’re probably saying to yourself, “I never feel guilty about taking time off!” But it usually hits when the smaller paycheck lands in the mailbox. Try to remember the benefits of your time off are worth more than money if you use that time thoughtfully.

I will be away for a couple of weeks soon, part of that time totally disconnected. I plan to enjoy my time off thoroughly. Let us know what you have planned for this summer in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative