Freelancer Tip: Take Monday Off!

I glanced at the calendar the other day and did a triple-take when I saw that Monday is Labor Day. Uh, what? How’d that happen? Didn’t June just start?

Nope. Apparently I was so blurry eyed from busyness I failed to notice summer sailing past. Perhaps you can relate.

Anyway, in case you need a one-sentence refresher course, Labor Day is a holiday celebrating the economic and social contributions of workers. This includes you, freelancer friends!

Like a lot of other independently employed people, I've voluntarily worked many a federal holiday over the years. On rare occasions it seemed absolutely necessary. But far more often, heading for my home office on what should be a day away has been a reflex, a less-than-healthy habit, a nagging compulsion to either get caught up or get just a little bit ahead.

After nearly a decade, I've finally started to give in to the well-worn warnings that you're not doing yourself any favors when you go-go-go all the time. Occasional timeouts — yes, even just a three-day weekend — are critical to staying creative and keeping burnout at bay.

Volumes have been written about how, when and why working professionals should take breaks. But I like the way veteran freelancer and creativity guru Jim Krause put it during a recent chat: "Work when you're working, and don't when you're not."

How's that for pithy and profound?

So, instead of making a call to action, I'm issuing a call for inaction. Freelancers, this coming Monday, give yourself permission to completely disconnect and decompress. Leave your out-of-office message on and your computer off. Do something fun and engaging that recharges your batteries ­­— or do nothing at all. Your brain and creative muscles will thank you on Tuesday.

As for me, I intend to hit the pool with my kids, reorganize my basement (the wife's idea) and then have dinner with friends on my deck as I hoist a craft IPA and toast to a season that flew by too fast.

What are your non-work-related plans for Labor Day?