7 Freelance Hacks to Get You Through The Holidays

freelance hacks

Whether you celebrate something or not, the final weeks of the year can be difficult for freelancers. Family might be enjoying paid-time-off while you’re still hitting the keyboard late at night for a demanding client, and friends could be chatting about the latest office holiday party as you sip a mediocre mug of eggnog and stare at the blinking cursor on screen.

Holidays: love them or hate them, the truth is that you can often make small changes to ensure a merrier season (or at least more bearable one).

1. Deck Your Desk

If holiday decorations make you happy, bring them into your work environment. Whether that’s tiny trees and twinkly lights or candles and paper ornaments, the accoutrements of personal cheer belong in your office as much as they do in the living or dining room.

Other ideas for customizing your work space might include timely tunes in the background, candles or essential oils with seasonal scents, or a bright and fluffy blanket to ward away winter chills. The key is to add things that bring you joy; don’t worry about what’s traditional or expected.

[ctt template=”4″ link=”IFbXV” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Use these 7 freelance hacks to get through the holiday season with a minimum of angst.[/ctt]

2. Make Time to Take Time Off

Whether you participate in seasonal celebrations or not, consider planning time off at the end of the year. Freelancing is hard work, and we don’t get paid sick leave or vacation. We definitely don’t get paid holidays off, so we have to plan in advance.

Many full-time freelancers I know decide on planned time off at the beginning of the year and incorporate that into their earnings goals.

Budgeting for Time Off

If you wanted to make $42,000 per year gross (before taxes), but you wanted to take a week off around Christmas and a week off during the summer, you’d be working 50 weeks that year.

  • $42,000 / 50 weeks = $840 average per week
  • $168 per day (working 5 days a week)
  • $21 per hour (working 8 hours a day)

Freelancers all work different schedules, so you’ll have to do the math according to yours.

Related: 4 Ways for Freelance Writers to Stay Productive from Their Home-Based Office

Communicating for Time Off

Let your consistent clients know when you’re planning to take off and offer to do work ahead of time if they need it. If you write a blog post every week for a client, offer to write two the week prior to your vacation. As planned time off approaches, avoid procrastination at all costs. Turning everything in early helps protect your vacation or holiday time.

3. Work When You Want, But Be Clever With Communication

Not everyone wants Christmas Day off, and some people really do complete their best work in the wee hours of weekend days. If spending time with your family or friends is important, schedule time for that, but if New Years Day is downtime in your home, don’t be afraid to catch up on work if it’s calling your name.

When you work outside of traditional hours but don’t want to give clients the impression you’re available 24/7, consider using an email scheduling app. I love Boomerang for Gmail year round, because it lets me schedule communication during business hours and set follow-up reminders on important messages.

4. Add Rewards to Make Your Work Days Bright

The carrot-and-stick approach has always been a favorite for freelancers, but it’s especially important during the holidays when distractions run rampant. Enjoy wrapping presents? Wrap a gift after every 500 words you write. Kitchen full of seasonal goodies? Schedule a snack break between long articles.

Other freelancers have told me what rewards work for them, and they include:

  • Getting to read the next chapter of a great book
  • Watching 15 more minutes on Netflix
  • Relaxing in a hot bath or shower
  • One M&M for every 50 words
  • A brisk walk once the midday goal is reached

Sound off in the comments if you’ve got a creative carrot you motivate yourself with.

[ctt template=”4″ link=”r6d5c” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Freelance holiday hack: Make time to take time off[/ctt]

5. Be Happy for Others

It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Celebrating when others are happy helps you experience more joy. Be happy for friends and family that get paid time off or other good things during the season instead of of reflecting constantly on the disadvantage of freelancing during the holidays.

6. Use Slow Periods to Plan and Organize

The feast-or-famine of freelancing is often more famine as you get closer to major holidays. Clients may take time off, and marketing budgets could be depleted as the year winds down. Use that time to gear up for next year. You might:

  • Clean and organize your workspace
  • Get next year’s planner ready to rock
  • Apply for new work opportunities
  • Beef up your writer profiles or web page
  • Look into new ways to market your services

7. Boost Your Vitamin D Intake

Finally, amid the chocolate, peppermint and other seasonal sugar, make sure you’re eating well and consider foods high in vitamin D (or take a supplement). Freelancers often spend a lot of time indoors at computers, and that’s exacerbated during cold months. Vitamin D deficiency can increase your risks of getting sick and lead to (or worsen) fatigue and depression.

If you’ve got some holiday hacks of your own (or just a link to something seasonal and fun) feel free to drop us a comment below.

Sarah Stasik

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Sarah is an experienced writer and copyeditor with a background in project management. She’s Six Sigma Black Belt certified and leverages her knowledge of statistical analysis, process improvement and content marketing to help clients engage audiences and increase conversions.

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