3 tools to help you prepare your freelancing business for a long break.
The best part about having your own business is, no doubt, the freedom that comes with it. Maybe this week you decide to take it slow and sleep in a couple days while working a little later at night. Maybe you decide to work over the weekend in order to not work a couple days during the week. You decide your work/life balance; and not very many people get to say that about their jobs.
I recently took a few weeks off of my freelance work for my wedding and honeymoon. I knew this would be tough to work out, but mind was in wedding mode constantly and I didn’t want my client work to suffer because of that. Not only did I need to plan for how I would take this time off successfully, but I also needed to plan on how I would transition from vacation mode to work mode after such a long time off. Since my business is just me right now, I searched for blog posts, asked friends for advice, and took some time for myself to try to figure out the best way to do this. I wanted to share some some personal insight as to how I did this for my business!
1. Write out a list of all your current projects and where they are at in Airtable.
At my 9-5 job, I would write out a to-do list for myself to complete on the day I got back from a long weekend or whenever I went on vacation. It always helped me ease back into work, so I decided to apply this concept to my business in a more in-depth way.
Airtable is essentially a more beautiful version of Excel. You can access it through both desktop and through its app. Best part: it’s free!
Start by making a workspace for all of your projects. In this workspace, you’ll want a sheet for your projects and then another sheet for your individual project tasks. Create both sheets by clicking the + in the top left hand corner of the workspace. From there you can set up each project with what you specifically want to track. For me, I like my project page to be a general overview of the project, including things like the phase that it’s in, the start date, the experience chosen, ect.
Above is an example of what my Airtable workspace looks like. The most important thing is to make sure you create a column for Tasks. You can link this to your actual Tasks page by clicking “Link to another record” as your adding the new column.
Your Tasks page is where you can make your to-do list and connect it to each project. Again, you decide what you want to keep track of. For me, it’s mainly a checklist with due dates. Before I left for vacation I made sure that this list was as detailed as possible; making sure I’d be completely up to date when I came back. For example, if one of my tasks was “Design About Page” for a certain project, I would go into detail about specific ideas I had in mind for this design in the Notes section of the task. I’d even add another column that allows you to attach images so that I could make sure I remembered any inspiration I had for this design.
This tool is simple, free, and has been so easy to manage on a daily basis!
2. On board any upcoming projects in Dubsado.
This step depends on how long you will actually be gone, and since I was going to be gone for almost a month, it was vital to my process. Before I get into this step, I have to preface this with the fact that I’m not an actual affiliate of Dubsado, I just I absolutely love this client management system and everything it has to offer!
Each project that I have goes through an on-boarding process, which includes a form to gain a little more insight about some project details, the contract signing, the initial invoice deposit, and then finally, the client homework. ALL of these things can be done weeks before the actual project start date; in fact, it would be beneficial if everything was done before the project start date!
Before I left, I had 2 projects that needed to be on-boarded. Even though their start dates weren’t until a couple of weeks after I got back from vacation, I wanted to make sure everyone was completely on-boarded so that they would have an ample amount of time to devote to their client homework and I wouldn’t have to worry about a step in the process being forgotten.
The on boarding process is different for every business, but Dubsado makes it so easy to set up each step in an automated workflow! If you have any questions about this, refer to my previous blog posts: How to automate your client on-boarding process with Dubsado Part One and Part Two.
3. Schedule out Instagram posts with Plann.
There are so many apps that help you schedule out posts: Planoly, Preview, Iconosquare just to name a few. There’s no “right answer” when picking out an app that works best for you, it’s just a matter of trial and error. Currently, I use Plann, the free version. It allows me to plan my content and doesn’t give me a limit to the amount of uploads I have per month.
I’m a huge believer in time off from work actually being time OFF from work. Especially when it comes to that time off being my honeymoon. However, since it’s just me and my biz, if I stop, my business stops. So if taking some time out of my day before I leave for vacation to plan out some posts and write the content helps keep my business current, then I might as well do it! In this app, you are able to not only plan the post and write the caption, but you are also able to schedule a date and time for it to be published. When it gets to that time, you’ll receive a notification on your phone to post it. All it takes is a minute out of your day to post! Right now, Instagram is my main source of how I get clients and how people get to my site. So it’s pretty vital that I maintain it to the best of my abilities, even when I’m not at my desk!
There are so many ways to prepare your business when taking time off, which means NO way is the RIGHT way. It all comes down to trial and error. What works best for your business? I would suggest practicing some tactics on a Friday before a long weekend, or researching what other client management systems or apps are out there that could possibly help your business. Owning your own business means learning along the way, so don’t be afraid to fail a couple of times before finding the solution!