Can you believe it's already October? That means the holiday season is just around the corner. And holidays can wreak havoc on our freelance work schedules (or at least they do for mine). Don't let the holiday season get in the way of work, or let work stress keep you from enjoying the holidays. Let's look at a few ways you can stay productive throughout this time of the year with a bit of planning.
Plan your vacation time early.
More importantly, let your clients know when that vacation time will be. Taking time off can feel like a guaranteed rush on your billable hours, so give clients time to get project details to you early so you can clear them up before you're away.
For me this is easy. I take off the same time every year -- Thanksgiving and Black Friday and then December 24th until the first work day of the New Year. If I need more time, I clear up gigs early and take a personal day.
Simplify your admin and marketing work.
One reason some freelancers don't like to take time off is that we don't get paid vacations. Well, we do. We just have to account for them when we set our regular rates. If you didn't do that you have another option. You can increase your billable hours prior to taking time off so you don't miss out on monthly income.
That said, I don't encourage freelancers to pull overtime to make this happen. Your mental health is as important as your financial health. Instead look for other areas where you can cut tasks out, decrease their frequency, or otherwise work more efficiently.
For example, you might cut back on your social media time. You could blog three days per week instead of five. You could thoroughly review stats weekly instead of daily. You can check blog comments once a day instead of several times. Little things add up, and the time you save can be put toward increasing your billable hours before taking time off.
Plan for the New Year now.
One reason the holiday season can get hectic work-wise is that we're busy planning for the New Year on top of dealing with our usual workload and family commitments. Why not plan early?
Get your financial records in order so you have less to do near the end of the year. Look at your progress so far this year and start thinking about your goals for the next. How will you reach those goals?
You probably don't need another three months to figure out what you're doing right and what isn't working out so well. Plan your adjustments now to save time later. You can always tweak your plans at the end of the year if something significantly changes between now and then.
How are you getting ready for the holiday season? Or is it still too early for you to want to think about it? Share your tips for working more productively as the holidays approach in the comments below.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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