Writing Professionally: Paid Leave

One problem contractors often mention is the lack of paid sick leave or vacation time. When you work for yourself, your boss tends to be a harsh taskmaster. But we all get sick, want time off, have emergencies. There’s no getting around that. A freelancer needs time off without suffering financial hardship.

The trick is to treat your leave just as an employer treats an employee’s leave. Employees don’t get paid for not working – they get paid extra when they do work, and that extra is held back until they take time off.

As a freelancer, you accomplish this by working ahead. Do enough work to amass a savings account from which you can draw your weekly or daily nut while you’re not working. When you return to work, schedule in additional hours until you’ve refilled your bank of leave money.

This can be a problem for the less disciplined among us. With no boss or time clock to make sure we work, it’s easy to take time off when we don’t have any banked time to cover it. The only solution to this is personal discipline: don’t take the time unless you have it. If you have an unavoidable emergency or serious illness with no time, you will need to scramble for extra work until you’re caught up.

Planning, discipline and organization are important traits if you choose to take this approach to scheduling time off as a freelancer. If you don’t have them, you’ll need to practice them until you do – or get an “accountability partner” to bust your chops for you on a daily or weekly basis.

Thanks for listening.

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