Most freelancers, sole traders and small business owner/operators rarely take a total break from their work because they are worried about losing potential clients and jobs while they're not looking after their business. Instead, they usually take a kind of half-work/half-holiday break for which I've coined the phrase, 'Claytons Break'.
If you're non-Australian or under 40, you may not know what 'Claytons' means to everyone with a television in Australia in the 80s. Find out here: Evolution of the word 'Claytons'
A 'Claytons Break' is the break a freelancer or sole trader has when they need a rest but are not in a position to have a total break from work because taking a real holiday at that time is likely to lose clients or important jobs and have a really negative impact on their business.
What does taking a Claytons Break mean for me? Taking a total break from doing paid work but continuing to run my scribing and editing business so it doesn't go down the drain.
During my Claytons Break, I 'check in' to work once a day to answer and respond to emails and calls, send out quotes to potential clients, accept bookings (for scribing, editing etc.) for after my return to work, and update or edit my website and social media platforms. Sometimes, I have to transfer large files from clients to subcontractors so my transcriptionists and/or editors can continue to work on jobs while I'm taking my break. When I return to work, I'm not as refreshed as I would have been had I taken a total break from everything work-related. But I'm always reasonably refreshed from my Claytons week off.
Some people would rather not take any time off until they can afford to take a real break from their work so they can fully relax, so they do that. Some people have lower overheads or lower income needs and can afford to take several real breaks from their work every year, and have no need to take a Claytons Break. But a lot of freelancers and sole traders, like me, depend on taking these Claytons Breaks, as well as the occasional real holiday, to give them the R&R they need.
Managing the risks of poor work-life balance and burning out is part and parcel of running your own business. A Claytons Break is a compromise: it's better than no break at all but doesn't allow you to totally switch off your work brain, or give your body and soul a proper rest. To avoid burnout, it's important to take at least one real break every year.
For example, I'm usually able to take two weeks' real break from my scribing and editing business between Christmas and early January. During this 'real break', I don't use any screens apart from my iPhone, I don't check any emails and I don't glance at any social media or the internet. By the end of that two weeks, my eyes and brain are totally refreshed. I also take a one-week Claytons Break every school holidays which gives me the rest I need between the busy-ness of full time work/managing the household during school terms.
Freelancers or small business owner/operators who want to take not just a Claytons Break but a total break from work, for a couple of weeks, are often too worried to do so because of the potential to lose jobs or clients during their time off. Here are some ideas for how to take a real break without losing too much business:
Taking enough breaks from work and maintaining a healthy work-life balance go hand in hand. Here are a few more articles related to work-life balance:
Taking a complete break and stepping away from your business for a couple of weeks enables you to return to work with a clear mind, objectively review how your business is going and decide what to do for the next six months or year. Read this article: Conducting a six-month review of your business
This article is based on my own experiences since starting On Time Typing as a small (sole trader) online/onsite scribing business in 2002 which has evolved into an online transcription, scribing, writing, editing and proofreading business.
Stay posted for future articles about work-life balance and other aspects of managing freelance or sole trader businesses and, in particular scribing and editing businesses.