After over a year of freelancing, Christmas has come around for me twice already.
Many people struggle with this time of the year, even in the workplace, as a time to really fully relax. For many, the Christmas period signals a break from the world of work and a focus on putting your feet up, but a lot of people this is a struggle, their work-brain doesn’t switch off and they keep on emailing, tweeting, document creation, project managing, creating and managing their staff like there are only a few days break.
For the majority of people, Christmas break is determined by the staff who manage them and normally consists of around 10 days or 2 weeks of break from the pressures of work. For freelancers, it is true that you do get to chose the time you have off.
But this does come at an expense.
Last Christmas, I struggled with planning my time off. My workload was reasonable, an organization of what to do was strong and everything else was in place during that time of year.
But due to my inexperience of freelancing, I did the following:
- Checked emails 8 to 10 times a day across the week
- Worked early morning (6AM – 7AM) to make up for time-off
- Planned calls for the middle of the day, damaging potential days-out
- Took podcast interviews in the later hours of the evening (US time for many)
- Batched recordings for morning periods
This alongside a string of other activities caused pressure for me in most aspects of my life. Family time felt constrained due to timings and a lot fo potential time-off wasn’t had. This was further pressured by the fact that I was still a “full-time student” where all of my university friends were off, planning time off to go on day trips in the local area.
All of this felt harsh on all parties.
Time was limited and I’d be focusing my attention on other spaces. This practical issue does revolve around what I’m aiming to do. For many, who don’t know, I run a YouTube channel, a few blogs and work freelance, in tandem. This is all in an effort to execute my long-term of running my own start-up, creating resources to help to get things done.
For me, these Christmas periods are a battle. A short-term battle to enjoy time and quality experiences with family and friends, and a long-term war to accomplish life-long goals. A healthy battle to have I think.
Many of the mistakes of last Christmas I replicated this year, but on a smaller scale.
This year I have focused more of my attention on spending time with family and making experiences a lot richer than the ones before with a few work modifications.
What I activated this year:
- Reduce workload in the build-up to Christmas (15th December)
- Plan events/activities at Christmas in advance to avoid double-booking
- Be clear on the days I’m working to bulk workload in advance
As a freelancer, there are many sacrifices that you take in the attempt to deliver what you need. This is something I think many freelancers don’t consider before entering the field.
The goal of Christmas is to relax, to recover for round 2 and even to catch-up on what you’ve missed out on across the year. Each Christmas, as a young 23-year old freelancer I expect to get better and better as I learn and adapt my workload based on this.