The freelancer’s guide to getting ready for Christmas. How to tie up loose ends & plan time off.

The festive period should be a time when you can put your feet up. For freelancers, who don't have paid holiday entitlement, this isn't a given.

This is how to get ready for a break this Christmas, get those November invoices paid on time, and feel good about January.

Choose your days off and communicate this to your clients

Everyone needs a break over Christmas. The big day falls on a Monday this year, but if you want to go away with family, enjoy New Years to the full, or just put your feet up and eat Celebrations for a week straight, you'll need more than one or two days off.

Decide when you're going to close for Christmas, and when you're going to start working again, then communicate this to your clients as early as possible. This will set their expectations and give you clearer structure. People are generally very receptive to boundaries like this because they want to enjoy their Christmas too!

Alternatively, you might decide to work around your clients. Some might be closing their doors for a couple of weeks, or have already specified when they will and won't need your services.

Get your Self Assessment out of the way (if you haven't filed already)

The Self Assessment deadline is 31 January 2024. Sorting out your end of year accounts could wait until after the Christmas period, but it's smart to get it out of the way before the festivities if you can.

Filing as soon as possible means you're more able to access support from a real person. The closer it gets to the deadline, the harder it is to get through to HMRC on the phone. It's also a great move if you're prone to the January blues, or just don't want last year's receipts hanging over your new year's resolutions.

Create a positive plan for your return to work

Speaking of January blues...

Returning to work after Christmas can be pretty miserable. Keep the post-Christmas slump at bay by creating a plan for January you'll want to work on. This could include pitching to new clients, updating your business' branding, learning a new skill, or lining up an exciting new project.

Even if you're going to be working on the same things with the same clients, a new-and-improved work space or work/life balance 'shakeup' could also put a spring in your step come January.

Declutter your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone

Even if you regularly tidy and organise your workspace, when was the last time you deleted those unwanted files in your 'Downloads' folder...?

Clutter has been found to increase the stress hormone Cortisol in one 2009 study. So-called 'digital clutter' could make our minds feel cluttered too. Sorting out folders and deleting unwanted files can also free up space on your hard drive, make your laptop or tablet run more efficiently, give you chance to backup the most important things, and - hopefully - help you feel calmer each time you sit down to work.

You could even extend this to unsubscribing from emails that persistently annoy you and your inbox or switching to one calendar app instead of three.

Plan next year's holiday dates

Time to bring it all full circle. If choosing your days off this Christmas has been tricky, start the next year like you mean to go on. Pre-book some time off when you think you'll need a break. For reference, full-time employed people are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave each year.

You might have to move things around if a big new project comes in. It doesn't matter when you take your holiday, as long as you take it.

Get your late invoices paid before your Christmas break

Stop staring at those unpaid invoices and start getting paid 3x faster on average. With Solna, freelancers can set up automatic invoice reminders for all their clients. Set the frequency, create the message, and sit back while your late-paying clients receive a polite nudge.

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