Here in the UK our summer holidays have begun; I know for my friends in the US the summer break started what must feel like eons ago.
While our lives and social systems are somewhat governed by this concept of 'the summer break' it sure can throw a massive spanner into our collective works. I mean, what's a little routine disruption, price hike, and location chaos to keep running a business interesting?!
The potential for chaos isn't exclusive to those of us with children (I have two; 6 and 12). 'The Break' as it'll from herein be affectionately called affects us all, not least of those of us who are running freelance businesses.
The first massive challenge for anyone during The Break is routine.
When you have dependents whose life revolves around the time scheduled by education, it's modestly stress-free to wrap your work life up with a bow. When you're not tied into that system, you have marginally more freedom! You lucky ducks.
Introducing a break in routine can often be a good thing to keep you from feeling stale though The Break can be more of a shake to your snow globe than a slight step left of centre! Your working hours will likely change; your energy and self-management is going to need some renegotiation; the expectations of your clients, too, will require management.
If you're reliant on traveling to and from a location to work, the transport situation might need looking at. I mean, were you expecting troupes of families and gaggles of young people filling up your busses, trams, and trains so you can't get on?
Whatever it looks like, it's a pain in the ass. I get it; other freelancers around the globe get it; and, hopefully, your dependents get it, too.
Since it's not likely that you can shut up shop for five weeks to be 100% part of The Break, is there much you can do about it? In part, yes. Keeping communication open and planning ahead just a little (or slightly further than you might normally do) can be enough to give you mental space to process all the changes.
As a freelancer (or digital nomad of any kind) having known locations in which you can work is really important. Your favourite cafés, bookshops, or rest stops; maybe just sitting on public transport for an hour to write! Wherever it is, The Break can play havoc with the availability of space.
There's nothing quite like the fresh hell of stepping into your comfort café only to find all of the seats taken up, the queues spilling past the counter, and the wifi on the fritz. The noise levels have risen beyond comfort and the amount of movement in the room is heckin' distracting.
This kind of disruption can cost you; physically, mentally, and in effectiveness for the day. Nobody does their best work when they are uncomfortable or grumpy.
What's to be done about it?
Having a backup plan. Anticipating that the best spots will be busy. Predicting that the second-best spot will also be a bit too full for comfort. Keeping yourself a list of spaces where you can find your comfort zone is a keen strategy for when times like The Break roll around.
Shit's expensive at the best of times. Fuel. Energy. Food. Travel. During The Break things have a habit of getting WAY more expensive; more so than we ever anticipate.
Because you're working around new routines you're finding ways to make the most of your space, energy, and time. This can mean you're out and about more than normal which will then equate to coffees and lunches, paid-for wifi, and co-working hot desks. Costly.
If you're at home more? Your energy bills might be creeping because you're doing more cooking, keeping the house warm, leaving lights on, using your computer plugged in... It all adds up.
Holidays. Let's not even talk about holidays. Attempting to take a vacation during The Break is a thankless, expensive task. Prices rise exponentially which, for freelancers, isn't something you like to contend with. It's often a pretty big trade-off, too. Doing more work to make more money only to spend all of it on a vacation which could have cost 75% less if you went at a different time of year.
This can create hefty mental overheads, too. What are you going to have to take on to make up the cash you've spent? How are you going to find that work? This dialogue can eat you up and be enough to stop you from taking a break at all; the cycle continues...
Landing new clients
Depending on your sector or speciality, landing new client work during The Break may or may not be a challenge. In my design practice I always found it to be challenging to find and secure new client work, mostly because the people I needed to communicate with were in a similar boat!
You could argue that if you've a healthy business your pipeline of new work should never dry up. That is almost never the case, however. If it was the case I'd be afraid of a sense of complacency setting in!
Should your sales chats go slow during The Break, is it a good time to look ahead and see where you can make opportunities once 'normal has resumed'? It could a prime opportunity for you to explore what you're doing and find more value in some of the other tasks you're doing.
You might say it's work ON your business rather than IN it for a month or so...
The End of The Break
After all the griping about the disruption of The Break, it's still important to acknowledge that - culturally speaking - you are being given the opportunity to stop for a while. Time to rest. Time to recuperate. Time to spend with family and friends you might not normally see because their lifestyle doesn't have the same freedoms as yours.
Remember to be kind to yourself and others while you're traversing the challenges of The Break.
What golden moments might you miss if you're so concerned with keeping the status quo?
If you're about DONE with The Break and want to focus on getting yourself set for the last few months of the year, let's talk.
I'm here to help creative freelancers design their most inspired, effective lives centered around on what matters most to them. There's 1:1 and group support; whatever you need to make the most of your freelance business.