Advice for Freelancers

Preparing For Your Christmas Break as a Freelancer

Welcome to a new year. By now, whether you are a freelancer or work in a “proper job” as some people insist on calling them, you are most likely back at work. Being a freelancer means you get to control your own holiday schedule time at any time of the year. Work doesn’t tend to stack up unless you are working on one long continuous project which makes the January return to work all the easier.

However, that’s not to say that freelancers in any industry shouldn’t plan for their Christmas break. There are many reasons why you should, not least of all so nobody interrupts you on Christmas Day. Here is how you go about creating a stress-free Christmas break.

Set a Clear Out of Office and
Return to Office Date with All Clients

There is a strong chance they will not be available anyway, but different countries and different organisations have different policies and settings. For example, we Brits shouldn’t take it for granted that our clients won’t be straight back to work on Boxing Day (or St Stephen’s Day as it is known in continental Europe). The US doesn’t mark Boxing Day but Canada does. Your American clients are likely to work 26th-30th December when those dates fall during the week. If you intend to take the week off, make it clear to all clients, set your Upwork as unavailable and your email as out of office. Communicate those dates in all personal communications.

Plan Workload Meticulously

Do you want to let anyone down? No, neither do I. Not at Christmas or any other time of the year. It just so happens that December is in my busiest period (typically October-January) so I need to think carefully about how much new work I typically take on. New clients will approach you and your existing clients are likely to require more work. Keep an eye on your schedule and plan how you are going to fit it all in. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to say no to work when too busy. Your bank balance may look good, but you don’t want to head into Christmas feeling stressed.

Have a “No More” Day

No matter how busy or quiet, you need to set a boundary date for yourself for when you won’t take on any more work up to the festive period. It’s not a good idea to go looking for work on Christmas Eve. If you have nothing to do on your last working day of the year then you still have options:

  • Do nothing and enjoy your break starting earlier than expected this year
  • Start on work not due until the new year. Get ahead of yourself because you may find yourself hit with new work

Having a time or a day at which point you will say “No More”, draws a line under the year and helps you truly wind down into Christmas.

Don’t Even Think About It

And I mean that in the most literal way possible. Stop thinking about work. You need to disconnect physically from the actual process of doing the work and mentally to stop it spinning around your head. As a freelancer, you are your own boss. That means refusing and rejecting work and telling clients when you are able to do work rather than having no choice but to do it to their time frame. It’s so easy to get caught up in the process of thinking about work and it’s important that you stop for a few days. Your mind and body will thank you later.

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