I’m sure that I won’t be the first one to tell you that… Christmas is almost here! Even though for us, the zen freelancers, this doesn’t mean Christmas parties with the colleagues or Christmas bonuses, we still deserve some rest and holiday fun.
But how to make sure that you’ll have a merry instead of a
No doubt that December is the busiest month of them all. For some reason, there are a lot of things to be done within only 31 days. And all of them are urgent.
Furthermore, your comfortable work-from-home routine will be ruined by:
- family members staying at home because they’re having some days off
- family gatherings that require a lot of time and preparations
- friends who want to meet you “for the last time this year”
As your time until the end of the year is very limited, you should use it wisely.
During this tricky period, planning and time management will be your best friends. So, what are some steps you can take in order to actually enjoy the holidays?
Announce your vacation days
If you’re working for somebody else, you’ll most probably take some vacation days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve so that you have a longer break. You’ll go to the HR department or directly to your boss and you’ll announce your intentions. They’ll check how many days off you have left and will let you know whether this is possible or not.
The good news is that as you’re working for yourself, you don’t really have a quota of days off per year.
The bad news is that you still have to plan them because otherwise, you’ll most probably work all the time.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a freelancer is to burn out because you don’t take the necessary time off. And since you’re working from home, you’re literally never leaving the office so you have to be extra careful when it comes to finding the work-life balance.
During the holiday period, you have the precious possibility to sit back and relax. Everybody’s in a festive mood already so it’s a bit easier to arrange a small break for yourself.
Another very important thing to take into consideration is the way you spend your free time. In order to actually relax, you have to pull the plug on your online presence.
Are you ready to finally get some free time and effective rest? Give to this brain of yours a well-deserved break. Read The Ultimate Guide to an Effective Digital Detox now for some amazing ideas on the topic!
Make time for everybody (including you!)
First, you should decide how many days off you need and how many days off you want. These are two separate things. Let me explain.
You need days off to deal with the inevitable (pleasant or not) social part of Christmas. Are you planning to visit your relatives? Have you invited a bunch of people at home?
Calculate how much time all of the scheduled events will take. Don’t forget to include the time you’ll spend on travelling, packing the presents or cooking.
You want days off to do the things that you (oh, well, you saw that coming, didn’t you?) want. Plan some “me” time and take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is among the life aspects that are being neglected when you don’t have a lot of free time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you most probably tend to compromise on what you eat, how active you are or how often you practice self-care.
In the article 8 Simple Ways to Take Care of Yourself I’m talking about the things that will instantly make you feel better. Read it now to get some valuable ideas that you can use during the holiday period.
It’s crucial to make time for your closest people and for yourself as otherwise there’s a huge risk to have a very stressful holiday period.
If you keep your normal routine and don’t plan the necessary days off, you’ll still have to deal with the Christmas activities taking place in your surroundings while keeping deadlines and working under a lot of pressure.
Work hard, plan harder
After you’ve made the plan regarding your Christmas break, it’s time to focus on the work that needs to be done before you get in a festive mood.
Make a list of all the projects you have to finish within the next couple of weeks. Set your priorities and see whether it’s possible to postpone some of the projects for January. Making a last-minute change in your schedule will provide you with some additional working hours which will do you good.
It’s worth mentioning that during the holidays the possibility of finding a nice (but urgent!) project is very high. Of course, it’s entirely up to you! Do you already feel overwhelmed by the holiday hustle? Then it’s better to skip this chance and start the new year focused, balanced and well-rested. Make a decision in advance whether you want to land a new gig in case you have this opportunity.
If there’s no wow opportunity or you’ve decided not to be bothered with working on a new project, you can use the time left for advertising your services. Don’t be afraid that there’s too much going on – people usually are open to new ideas during this time of the year.
Get out there and show your potential clients how you can make their life easier. You never know, maybe your message will reach a customer who has been desperately looking for someone like you.
Time for a retrospection
The end of the year is the perfect time for a retrospection. What did you achieve during the past 12 months? Which was your biggest success? Which was your most painful failure? What did you learn from it?
Self-awareness helps you grow and become a better version of yourself. Unfortunately, in our everyday life, we rarely have time to assess our actions in an objective way. That’s why you can use the holiday period for making an estimate of where you were, where you’re now and where you’d like to get.
Set your goals for the new year and decide what your top priorities are. Plan the particular steps you’ll take in order to achieve your goals, boost your business and reach or keep financial stability.
Keep calm and dump some clients
At the end of the year, you should look carefully at your list of clients. How many long-term clients do you have? Do you make enough money? How often do you land a short-term gig?
Now answer to the following question:
Is there a client that you really don’t want to work with?
Think about it. And be honest with yourself.
To keep your motivation at a high level, you should love what you’re doing. If there are clients that don’t pay enough, require too much time or make a lot of issues, dump them.
If you’re wondering what type of clients are worth dumping, you can read my article 7 Types of Difficult Clients and How to Deal With Them. It will help you make up your mind whether you can improve your relationship with that challenging client of yours or you should just let them know that it’s over and break up with them.
If you take the time to create a plan for the next working year, you’ll be able to find new and better clients soon enough.
Raise your rates
It’s okay to raise your rates from time to time. At the end of the day, that’s how the economy works – things are getting only more expensive.
Furthermore, if you’re having a long-term client, you’ve already got to know their business in details and you’re capable of providing them
You can try negotiating your new rates in December. As everyone is very busy, they most probably won’t have time to bargain. Furthermore, you’ll make your statement right on time – this way, the first assignment for the new year will be already with the new rates.
Exactly because December is a hectic month though, there is a possibility that the client decided to postpone this conversation for January. By any means, avoid the negative consequences of a potential miscommunication. Make sure that the client has received your message and has agreed upon it.
Buy yourself a present
Don’t forget to reward yourself for the good job during the past 12 months! Buy yourself a present that will help you boost your freelance career even more. There are plenty of good deals during the holidays. Is there an online course or a tool that you’ve always wanted? Christmas is the perfect time to get it.
What will happen next year? The truth is that no one knows. But it’s a fact that you’ll increase the chances of having a successful and happy new year if you make the necessary steps in December.
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