A lot of people tend to get envious of the freelancers because freelancers never have to maintain a 9to5 schedule and never have to rush to the office everyday to to keep their places intact in the office. If you ask anyone who’s been trying to jump onto the freelance wagon why he wanted to be a freelancer, he’d probably say that it’s because he wouldn’t have to always maintain a routine life and he’d be able to set his own hours and take breaks whenever he wants.
A lot of people also think that freelancing means having a fancy computer setup and laying around with a cool laptop while earning a more than a decent amount of money. Well, while part of all these are true, freelancing isn’t as fun as it sounds to be. What most of the people don’t know, even hundreds of freelancers themselves is that when you start freelancing and quit your day job to get rid of a 9to5 life, you actually get into a life where you lose track of your working hours and by the time you can realize, you’re working more hours than you ever did a day. Just take a look at this blog post by CSS mastermind Chris Coyier and you’ll know what I mean.
There have been times when I’d go weeks without stepping out of the house, I still do. Just this last month, the only reason I got out of the house a few times was because I had fours exams to sit on. And while writing this post, I just realized I hadn’t taken a break since my brother’s wedding which was like 6 months ago. It might sound like complaining, which I am not, because I like what I do, but this I have to admit that being so into what I do, was the only thing that sometimes held my creativity back time to time. And until this last month, I never even realized how real it was.
What I realized in the past few days is that you can’t really get the best out of yourself if you constantly keep thinking about how you could get the best out of you. I had known about the pros of cons of not taking a break a long time but I never actually felt the effect until my recent experience. I mean, finding something new to write about or something that I like was getting harder every day, coming up with different and cool at the same time designs for new themes was getting daunting by every project, and just when I decided to not think about my blog and client works for a couple of days and started to use my laptop just for fun, you know to watch trailers on Youtube, browsing site that are in no way related to my work, ideas really started kicking in, in two days, I had more than 5 posts half ready in my head already without feeling any pressure! Taking short breaks (10/15 minute breaks after 1/2 hours of work) always worked pretty well, but long breaks work better sometime.
One thing though, there is chance that you might find yourself lost when you get back to work, but I think if you realize you’re working a lot longer than someone who works a 9 to 5 job, you should definitely try a long break. One day break is better, because if you go weeks without taking any break at all, except for the time you eat and sleep, it might seem pretty hard to get back on track. When you get too obsessed with your work and always think about it and take a break, it’s very hard not to think about the pending projects all the time. And when that happens, it gets harder to really get back to work after a long break. It took me almost 3/4 days to really start blogging and designing again when I got back to work from my elder brother’s marriage. I was thinking about work, work and work the whole time of the wedding break and when I got back to my computer, it felt like I had left thousands of design work and stuff and didn’t know where to start or which one to start first. But this time when I took this break, nothing really bothered at all, and when I came back to work, I actually felt relieved.
I think the most important thing to consider when you’re planning a break is timing. When I took this break, I only had two client projects in my hands, which I knew wasn’t going to be a problem at all because I had already finished the layouts and I knew how I was going to finish the coding and stuff. I’m pretty sure now that If I had left a few projects that needed more than I could afford, I’d probably have gotten lost again right now. Here are a few things you should consider before taking a break:
1. Don’t fix a date and rush to finish up things in time. Just take a break when you don’t have any super critical project pending.
2. Never leave something that requires constant attention. For example, a half done template.
3. Do not do stuff that are related to work when you’re in a break.
4. A very good way of keeping the pressure of the back is using a computer that doesn’t have much of your work on it. In my case, my laptop.
5. Never check your inbox when you’re enjoying a break. Just CC a note to all your contacts stating that you’re not gonna be available for a couple of days.
6. Rent/buy a couple of movies that you had seen and liked sometime and thought you didn’t get the hang of the story and or couldn’t notice everything properly. In my case, Transformers, I had seen it, but I always felt like I missed a lot of details.
7. Hang out with your school mates, it’s one of the best things you could do when you’re taking such breaks.
8. Plan an imaginary trip with your friends, a road trip or something. I really had fun planning a trip to Nepal with a couple of my buddies.
9. Spend a few bucks on the most stupid things. In my case, I bought quite a few books that I used be fan of back in the medieval times as a kid.
10. And finally, write a blog post right away when you get back, better if you don’t use any of the topics that popped up in your head during the break. In my case, this one.