Freelance Life: 4 Tips to Balance Work and the Holidays

Holiday Decorations” Flickr photo by Cliff shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license.

It’s the holiday season and I’m loving every second of it. I can’t get enough of the festive décor, merry movies, holiday gatherings, and anything else related to the season.

Of course, the holidays aren’t without their challenges, and one of those is work. Both getting enough assignments and finding time to complete them can be a struggle in December. I’ve been doing this for several years now, so here’s a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. Set Your Holiday Calendar ASAP

If your freelance bosses haven’t already asked what days you’ll need off over the holidays, expect that email soon. Coverage during this time of year can be rough, so they need to know what they’re working with.

2. Get as Much Work as Possible in Early December

December is typically my slowest month. My clients are either out of the office or busy wrapping things up for the year, so they don’t have a lot of work to pass on.

Each year is a little different, but sometimes there’s a little extra work to be had in the first couple weeks of December. If you can handle it, take advantage of this, because it will help balance out the slowdown that will almost inevitably happen later in the month.

3. Find a Quiet Place to Work Amid Holiday Chaos

If you’re still working in the peak of the holidays, chances are, you won’t be in your normal setting. Out-of-town guests might be staying in your home office or you might be visiting family.

No matter what the situation, you’ll need to find a makeshift space where you can actually get work done. This might mean holing up in your parents’ basement or finding a local coffee shop that can serve as your peaceful salvation.

4. Turn Off and Be Merry

The holidays only come once a year, so work hard, but set boundaries with clients. Don’t spend the most important parts of the season glued to your phone or laptop.

If you’re asked to complete a last-minute request, don’t feel like you have to accept it — especially if it falls during a time you’ve already blocked off on your calendar. Every client worth your time understands working freelance doesn’t mean you’re available around the clock during the holidays or anytime.