Freelancing offers freedom and flexibility, but it can make your holidays challenging. You deserve a break as much as anyone, but you may be worried about halting your momentum or losing out on paying opportunities. However, taking the much-needed time off while managing your workload is possible.
Are you feeling guilty about stepping back from work? You’re not alone — nearly 62% of Americans experience remorse for taking time off. On top of that, women are 20% more likely to feel that way.
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Studies from the American Psychological Association show that taking a vacation reduces your stress levels, because you’re removing yourself from the sources of your stress. Whether you plan to travel for the holidays or simply spend quality time with family at home, taking a break can do wonders for your mental health.
When you work in an office, you can put work out of your mind as soon as you leave the building. You may not feel the same way as a full-time freelancer, especially if you work from home. However, you can take some of the same measures to ensure your work doesn’t creep into your time off.
- Notify your editors or clients: Let your editors or clients know about your plans. Shoot them an email with the dates you’re unreachable and when you’ll return to work. Notify them at least a week in advance about your break so you have time to wrap up anything they need before you’re away.
- Use a holiday “out of office” message: Craft an away message to send back to your clients when they send you an email. Include the dates you’re unavailable and will return in your message. However, if you still want to remain available, inform them to reach out on a separate platform.
- Pay bills before you leave: Settle all your bills before the holiday rush gets in. Update invoices, schedule your payments and pay off your contractors earlier so they can enjoy the holidays, too.
- Hire a virtual assistant: If there are tasks that can’t wait, you can hire a virtual assistant to cover for you. Administrative tasks, plotting your schedule and making phone calls are some activities you can give them.
- Finish urgent tasks before the holidays: If there are jobs you can finish before the holidays, try your best to complete them earlier than their deadline. Ask your clients or anyone you work with if there’s anything you can do to help them before you take some time off.
In some cases, you may not be able to stop working completely. Freelance writers, for example, may have seasonal content to work on with hard deadlines. Others may actually want to take on more work during the holidays to earn extra spending money for gifts and travel. If that sounds like you, there are still ways to manage your workload while celebrating the season.
The best thing you can do is manage your schedule and avoid working overtime. Map out your holiday schedule in advance so you can plan your work around your family gatherings, holiday events and gift shopping. Maybe you work an extra hour a few days so you can free up time other days.
Doing more tasks in less time is another way to help you plan better for the holidays. Here’s what you can do to help maximize your productivity so you don’t find yourself work on the holidays:
- Identify your most productive time of the workday: Pay attention to your energy and focus levels. Do you feel most alert when the sun’s up or when the house is quieter at night?
- Take breaks during your workdays and weekends: Allow yourself to rest after working hard so you’ll be refreshed the next day.
- Use time-management strategies and techniques: Try strategies like the Pomodoro technique or time-blocking system. If you frequently pause to scroll on your phone, use social-media-blocking applications to improve your focus.
- Work in a conducive environment: If you work from home, dedicate a quiet room or space where you can work for hours. Try working in a café or co-working space if you’re more productive outside your home.
- Listen to music: For some,it helps improve their concentration.
- Tidy up your workplace before working: An organized space helps you focus better.
Detaching from work during the holidays is good for your health, providing benefits such as a lower risk of heart disease, reduced stress and better job satisfaction. They’re a perfect time to take care of your well-being. Here’s how you can squeeze in some me-time amidst the holiday hustle and bustle:
- Set aside time for yourself: You may have a full schedule this holiday, but always try to carve out time for yourself. Quality time alone is a great way to destress. Whether it’s playing an instrument, watching a TV series or journaling, some quiet time can do your mental health plenty of good.
- Exercise regularly: It’s normal to look forward to holiday food, but try to stay on top of your health. Make time for exercise — even short bursts of physical activity — to keep up your energy.
- Reflect: Take time to think about the past months. How was your freelance journey? What about your wins? Are you better at writing now? Do you take feedback better now? It’s so easy to overlook small successes and growth milestones because of how fast paced the industry is. This holiday, take time to pat yourself on the back for doing your best every day.
- Get rid of the guilt: It’s easy to feel guilty about all the money you could earn if you didn’t take some time off. But remember, you’re human — you deserve to enjoy the holidays with your friends and family, too.
Full-time freelancers deserve to enjoy time off. While looming deadlines and workloads make it seem impossible initially, these tips will help you manage your time a few days before your well-deserved rest. Happy holidays!