Around about this time of year it becomes apparent that we’re all human, and sometimes something’s got to give.
This year, for me, it was Christmas cards (again) and house decorations (again).
It’s not that I don’t get into the Christmas spirit, it’s just that I haven’t got into the Christmas spirit. Let’s just say that when you have a ton of work to do and no time to bingewatch Christmas films, it just isn’t the same.
I tend to leave work around a week before Christmas and start back in the first week of January (hey, I rarely get a proper holiday during the rest of the year), but this year I’m having to work right up until Christmas Eve (I know, boo hoo, poor me).
So, I’ve decided that:
- I will enjoy the time off I give myself.
- No one will actually notice that I haven’t sent Christmas cards (again). I may, however, send New Year cards instead. They will actually mean more as people will be over the ‘ten ton turkey’ that the festive season usually turns into, and a non-Christmassy, upbeat card may help blow away some January blues.
- I will not berate myself for taking on some really interesting, if demanding, work.
- I will not berate myself for taking on work that will help pay off a disgustingly huge (for me) credit card bill (I know, I know …)
- I will try to get as much done as I can before Christmas, then put away the computer for a minimum of four days.
For freelancers this time of year can be quite depressing. Unlike our gainfully employed colleagues the Christmas parties can be thin on the ground (the Northern Editorial Christmas Shindig this year was taking time out to go and see Wick Players’ Panto; we like to support our amdram rivals) and there’s nothing quite so sad as a party plate for one complete with a bottle of Prosecco drunk through a straw.
But for freelancers the festive season can also be quite liberating. The Christmas/New Year lull is the perfect time to look over the past year and see how it’s gone. We can see what has worked, what hasn’t and what has potential.
I’ve realised that:
- This year has been pretty good for me.
- I’ve worked on a really interesting variety of projects, from business documentation, academic papers and a white paper to a few fabulous memoirs, a charity book and a rather wonderful cookbook, among others.
- I’ve said no to a number of projects that weren’t my thing, said no because I didn’t want to over-stretch myself and said yes to some projects that were out of my comfort zone – none of which killed my business.
- I’ve had fewer jobs that fell below my self-imposed minimum wage, due to better quoting practices and sticking to my guns (there will always be some that fall short, for various reasons).
- I’ve had blogs read, shared and commissioned by others.
- I’ve enjoyed meeting up with colleagues old and new, and know that I have friends around the globe that know how it all works.
With this in mind, for me, what has worked has been: sticking to my business plan, not saying yes to poorly paid work, and stepping back before immediately saying ‘no’ to something.
What hasn’t worked: I’m still not there with getting my quoting system right and I’m still too quick to give added extras to clients (the clients often don’t realise, but my bank account and timesheet does).
What has potential? Well, I’ve gained more work on memoirs and histories this year (which is something I love) and think it’s something I could take on more of. I’ve also done more designing too, which has the potential to grow.
This is all well and good, but there are still improvements to be made. So, my New Year business plan includes:
- Taking more time out for myself, to look after my mental and physical health and to be present for my family.
- Being selective with new work that comes in. I’ve proved to myself that it can work, so I will only take on work that interests me (unless I have unexpected bills that necessitate me to take on work outwith my joy zone).
- Taking on new copywriting work. It’s something I enjoy and pays relatively well.
- Taking time out to work on a personal writing project.
- Quoting fairly and competently, whilst taking into consideration my qualifications, experience and value to the client.
Taking time out to reflect like this doesn’t take too long and can be a really valuable insight into your work. So I’ll leave you with this:
- What has worked well for you?
- What could you do better?
- What is showing potential?
- What should you stop doing?
- Which direction do you want to go in next year?
I’m taking a couple of weeks out from blogging: I need to refresh my batteries, finish the work I need to do and drink copious amounts of Baileys and Rock Rose Gin (not together, that would be minging).
Have a lovely festive season everyone, be kind to yourselves and remember – freelancers need rest too (unless you have two corgi puppies … in which case, you may never sleep again).