Lots of self-employed people are lousy about taking time off, particularly when work is scarce. There is this overwhelming fear that you will miss potential income if you take a couple of days off.
Truth is, you might. Or you might not. Or you will, but you will get MORE out of taking the personal time and reconnecting with your spouse/partner/family/self. Money isn’t everything. But, of course, it is important.
So how to balance the two? The key word is balance. If you are not taking any time for yourself, time off, away from work and cell and email, etc., clearly that is not balance. If you are taking every other day off, I think most people would agree that’s too much the other way.
The French get 30 days off a year, guaranteed. I think that’s great, but probably unreasonable for Americans. How about half that? 15 days. That’s three weeks (5 working days per week). That seems reasonable, especially if you split it up. Take at least one week entirely off a year–that needs to be a non-negotiable written-in-stone company policy. Then take a day off here and there throughout the rest of the year.
You will find that if you stick to this plan, you will be more productive during your working time. And, when you come back from time off, your brain is refreshed so your creative work is better.
Now about the missed gigs–if you miss a call from a client, they will not hate you and never call you again…not unless they are total jerks. You should dump clients who think and treat you that way so that is no loss. The other clients will be there when you get back. Often, the project they called about will still need to be done when you get back, so you haven’t lost anything but the stress of sitting around waiting for the phone to ring! And you can use an impending vacation to connect with your regular clients who might be thinking about working with you–let them know ahead of time that you will be unavailable on certain dates so that they can schedule their shoots appropriately.
Truth is, most of the time you will not lose any work by taking a vacation. And the payoff for your health and creative spirit is of very great value to your business.