The wine is mulling, the carollers are singing and we’re almost finished opening those doors on our advent calendars. It can only mean one thing – Christmas is nearly here. Christmas can feel very different when you’re self-employed. There’s no office Christmas party (although they are a contentious issue altogether this year!). There’s no statutory days off. There’s no work Secret Santa where you have to decide on the best present for Colleen from accounts with just a fiver. No, when you’re a freelancer, you have to make your own Christmas traditions – and be in charge of your own time off. But there’s probably a lot you need to do to get ready to make sure you can have a proper Christmas break. So without further ado, let’s get to our Christmas checklist – here’s how to make sure you’re ready to have the very merriest freelance Christmas.
Decide what days you are having off
One of the absolute joys of being your own boss is the ability to pick your own annual leave over Christmas. There’s no one telling you that you have to come in on Boxing Day because there’s a half-price sale on, or that you can’t have Christmas Eve off because too many other people want to take leave that day. Early on in December, it’s a good idea to decide what holiday you’ll be taking so you can start to prepare.
How long you want to take will depend on your circumstances, finances, and current workload – it’s entirely up to you. However, it’s also worth remembering that many businesses will more or less shut down over the Christmas period, so even if you do decide to work on through, it will have to be work that you can get on with without requiring quick responses or client meetings.
Let clients know your availability
It’s good manners and good business sense to let your clients know when you will and won’t be around this December. This will manage their expectations for project timescales and also allow them to prepare for when you won’t be available. If there’s things that you need from clients – like briefs or information – make sure that you get it well in advance so that you have time to turn things around before you finish. The last thing you want in your final few days of work is a lot of pressure and a rush to get jobs done.
Clear the decks
Set out a schedule for December. Focus on what work needs to be finished so that you can enjoy your break guilt-free. It simply won’t be the same with work hanging over you. We’ve recently published a blog with some helpful tips as to how to stay focused when freelancing in the winter [LINK].
Update your availability
If you use social media to promote your freelancing work or you have a website, make sure that you update your availability there too, so that clients and potential clients know when you’ll be around over Christmas. This will help you take a break without interruptions, and again is a good courtesy to anyone who is looking to get in touch with you.
Sort your admin
As well as finishing off any client projects, there will probably also be a few of those fiddly admin jobs left to clear off your desk before Christmas. You know the sorts of things we mean: updating your accounts, clearing out your email, tidying up your files, chasing up unpaid invoices. It’s a good idea to send in your invoices as soon as you can as well – so that clients have time to get them paid before the Christmas break. Be aware that if you send it in nearer Christmas then you might have to wait until January to get paid if the accounts teams are on holiday.
Remember, if you ever have a problem with ongoing outstanding invoices, and the total amount owed is more than £200, Freelancer Assist from Dinghy can help you chase those unpaid bills and get the money in your account where it should be. It comes bundled free with every Dinghy insurance policy. And, speaking of which, now is also a good time to check that your professional indemnity and public liability insurance for your freelance business is up-to-date – so that you start the new year with the right cover in place.
If you have any spare time…
If after getting all that cleared, you find you’ve finished early and are left twiddling your thumbs, you could always use the time to start thinking about your plan for 2022. Some good things to do at this stage in the year are:
- Work out what projects you’ve got coming up in January.
- Make a plan for any marketing you need to do.
- If you haven’t already, get everything ready to do your Self-Assessment Tax Return.
- If you’re now going to be busy: make some project timelines to decide how to allocate your time when you get back.
- If your new year work schedule is looking a bit sparse: draft some emails to clients scoping out if there’s any more work you could help them with. It’s probably not worth sending them out right now as everyone is finishing for Christmas, but have them ready to go for January.
Your future self will thank you!
Get your out of office on!
With all that sorted, it’s time to put your feet up, get your Santa hat on and crack open the Quality Street because it’s Christmas, freelancers! Remember that Dinghy customers can always pause their freelancer insurance over Christmas if they’re not working, saving money while you take a well-earned break. This can be done by logging into the website on your dashboard. Merry Christmas everyone – we hope you have a relaxing and fun-filled time where you can switch off from work for a little bit.