No-drama downtime - how to enjoy the quiet times
For "regular" people, who are employed by someone else, a quiet time of the year at work is something to be celebrated. It's a time when they can take longer lunches, maybe leave a little earlier, take an extended coffee break and book in some vacation time.
For people who are self-employed, on the other hand, it's a time to PANIC. (All caps very necessary.) You need only to consider the word we use to describe these times - famine. With all its panic-stricken, desperation-infused connotations of hunger, suffering, deprivation and, of course, death.
But is it so bad?
Do we need to be quite so dramatic?
Couldn't we view it using the same lens as "regular" people?
What we mean is, can't we consider our quieter times as something to look forward to, where we take those breaks, enjoy life and stop to smell the roses?
But it's the unpredictability of it that's the problem, we hear you mutter.
It doesn't have to be unpredictable.
Looking for patterns
A good way to avoid the panic attacks of your quieter times is to see if there's a pattern to your freelancing year. Here are a few ideas on what to look for:
Is it quiet during the same period each year? Do your clients have a schedule that is predictable? If you translate a certain document type, is there a busy time of the year for it, e.g. the end of the tax year? Are there certain conferences or events which affect your timetable?
If you're an LSP.expert user, you can run reports to identify these patterns - you can add various filters and conditions which will help you track your year.
What's the benefit of noticing these variations? Hopefully, you can see that these are just a normal part of your year. That yes, there may be times when your workload is a little lighter, but that, in the end, it evens out.
Embrace the downtime
Once you've identified the patterns to your year, you can move on to the next part - embrace the downtime! Scratch that - don't just embrace it...enjoy it!
Think back to what we said at the beginning of this post, about how, on the employed side of the fence, downtime is something to be celebrated.
Yes, we know that it's different when you're self-employed. After all, when you don't work, you don't get paid (unless you're a passive income king or queen!), so it can be hard to relax if you're thinking about how a quiet period affects your earnings.
But, if you've taken the time to look at the patterns to your year, you'll hopefully see that it will pass. You may even, from looking at past periods in detail, be able to tell when it will pass...which should definitely help you chill out and cherish the peace!
What to do with your downtime
Now that you've come to terms with taking some time off, here are a few ideas on how you can turn the downtime into something you look forward to…
To-do list ticking
Anyone else got a to-do list as long as their arm? The quieter times of your year provide a great opportunity to attack the dusty depths of your to-do list. The satisfaction you'll get from ticking off an item that's been there for months will quickly shoo away any lingering resentment of the downtime.
Note: do make sure that the tasks you're ticking off are really important for your business, we're not talking about rearranging the business cards gathering dust on your desk ;)
We've all heard people say that it's important to keep marketing throughout the year, but often it's something we forget about until we have some time on our hands, or when something surprising happens, like a big project ends unexpectedly or a client parts company.
Take advantage of having extra time to plan your marketing for the next quarter in advance. Work on your strategy, prepare material and schedule it so when work picks up again you know that your marketing machine is working hard for you in the background.
How many times a year do you say, "Oh, I'd love to learn something new, but I just don't have time." Um, hello! This is the perfect opportunity to do some CPD or, if you're really embracing the free time, something totally unrelated to work!
Learning something new or improving your skills, whether that's CAT tools, language skills, or your specialist subject area, will always pay dividends in the future.
As for doing something unrelated - we'd highly recommend it; we think it's simply good for the soul.
Vote for vacation
Finally, how about booking a last-minute vacation? We admit, this one can be tricky, especially if you have family commitments, but at the very least, booking something to do just for you, as a reward for all your hard work, is definitely deserved.
We hope this post has given you some food for thought (see what we did there...food, famine….?) on what to do when you're experiencing a quieter time in your business.
These times are inevitable, and should be embraced, not endured. You never know, perhaps your next step will be actively planning these downtimes in your year, so they become an essential element to your business and life.
Whatever you do - enjoy it.