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August 10, 2011
Vacation Time: You've Earned It
“Give me a break!” the saying goes, and everybody needs one…especially freelancers, the self-employed, and independent contractors.  
However, officially clocking in isn’t the only way to validate vacation time. Getting up and doing a job for yourself counts as much as the next employed nine-to-fiver. Yet without the benefits of a company, vacation time is harder to finance and justify. But when it starts to feel like “Groundhog Day,” the needed vacation is way past the due date.  
The privilege to escape, unwind, and relax is physically needed by all in order to recharge the human battery and help a mind perform at its best. Research shows that positive effects happen simply from the anticipation of planning a vacation. Mood can improve for up to two months before the actual trip.
Every country from Austria to Vietnam has their own minimum, legally REQUIRED, PAID vacation policies, except for China, which has “none.”
The country with most required days in the world is France: five weeks + two weeks of RTT (Reduction du Temps de Travail, which means “Reduction of Working Time”) for a grand total of seven weeks. But on the other side of reality, the minimum of seven days is observed in many countries including Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Interestingly the U.S. does NOT require vacation time, but 7­–21 days is standard for most employers and the norm is usually ten working days with eight national holidays.
Now when the employer is yourself: unlike China, be good to that “valuable person” and take the minimum of seven days…whether it’s a staycation or trip to the Ibiza.
Basic tips to help the working, poor, self-employed take five:
  1. Save vacation money throughout the year, whether it’s in the bank or under your mattress.
  2. Let savings help determine how far you can travel, and porch views count as long as you vacay.
  3. Use part of the saved money to live on when you return.
  4. Always save coins to turn in for cash (you’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up).
  5. Choose your date and place and let your clients know ahead of time that you have “gone fishing.”
  6. Depending on business size, a trustworthy sub to fill your shoes may be a consideration.
  7. Leave your biz at home (as impossible as that sounds) or you may as well stay home.
  8. Take the day off before the trip to prepare your mind AND the day after to prepare for reentry.
  9. Plan something fun the day of return to ease the shocking transition back to the planet.
  10. Take a lot of pictures to keep as memorable reminders and motivate the next year’s plans.
Bon Voyage! 

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Phyllis Briskman is a verse contributor and does PR/marketing. She sharpened her first pencil as retail fashion copywriter, writing to count before Twitter tweeted its first hello. Later, she flew the cubicle to do freelance creative becoming a writer of all trades, from beauty to fitness for catalogs, magazines, and websites. Born to brainstorm, she's named retail businesses and website domains. She loves quick wit, survives on laughter, is a little hokey, but aims to please because that’s what life’s all about.

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