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Stress-Free Holidays for Freelancers—It’s Possible!

Stress-Free Holidays for Freelancers—It’s Possible!

(Engin_Akyurt / pixabay)

The irrationality of the square root of 2
Trisecting the general angle
Doubling the cube

If you’re a math buff, you probably know what all of these problems have in common: they’re impossible to solve. Years of attempts to crack them were finally put to rest through a “proof of impossibility,” which allowed mathematicians to establish that these thorny problems have no solution whatsoever.

So what does math have to do with the holidays? If you’re not careful, the holidays can start to feel like a mathematical impossibility.

Take a normal month filled with standard work, family, and social obligations. For most of us, it’s full to the brim. Now layer on Thanksgiving dinner preparations, holiday cards, decorating the house, holiday parties, family get-togethers, shopping for gifts, fighting for the last gaming console on the shelf, navigating holiday traffic, wrapping gifts… and, yeah, the math doesn’t work out. So no wonder we’re all running around like unhinged grinches hissing at all of those glittery posters that tell us to “believe in the magic.”

A Healthline survey revealed that more than 60% of Americans describe their holiday stress level as “very” or “somewhat” elevated, so you’re in good company if the holidays feel impossible. But I don’t think it has to be this way. I’ve been working on staying out of this holiday stress vortex in the past few years, and I’d like to recommend three steps that have consistently improved my holiday experience.

1.Start streamlining. People like you and I love freelancing because it comes with amazing flexibility, but the other side is that it comes with greater responsibility. The best freelancers learn to manage the responsibility well so that they can maximize their flexibility.

We’ve established that all of the holiday extras can’t peacefully co-exist with your already busy schedule so examine your obligations ruthlessly and decide which can be cut, simplified, or delayed until after the holidays.

If there’s a freelancing job coming in with a December 26 deadline, decide how much you need/want it vs. how much you want time to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. If it’s going to send your December into the crazy zone, it may be best to pass or ask for an extended deadline.

New gigs tend to come with an intoxicating sense of possibility, but don’t be hypnotized by every new thing. Sure, it may be a great opportunity, but the happiest freelancers learn to make smart decisions between good, better, and best.

Pare down your personal obligations, too. Could your lunch plans with friends wait a few weeks? Could you send an e-card instead of addressing dozens of snail mail holiday cards?

Consider long-held traditions and whether they can be minimized. Could you order part of your Thanksgiving dinner through the local grocery store? Do you really need homemade sugar cookies to decorate for Santa? Or could you have just as much fun decorating the ones from your local bakery.

2. Communicate. Some of your deadlines and obligations may be firm, but others may be negotiable. Stress mounts when you have too many things to do at once, but you can often diffuse it by bumping out some deadlines—as long as you communicate.

One of my work associates recently sent out an email to all of his clients to communicate that he would be out of town: “I’ve been married for 15 years, and if I want to stay happily married for another 15, I won’t be checking emails (on these dates).” Not only were people not angry that he didn’t respond to their emails right away, they were giving him virtual high-fives for being an awesome husband.

If there’s a deadline that can be extended, request it, but make sure to communicate when you will deliver—and stick to it.

3. Use your resources. One of the perks of being part of our Copy Accelerator mastermind is that it connects you with other copywriters. This paves the way for you to find jobs and delegate jobs. If you decide to turn down a job to keep your holidays sane, you can send it to a fellow copywriter. You’ll establish goodwill with the client by steering them toward a competent writer and with your colleague by sending them work.

There’s also the option of hiring someone to work for you temporarily to shoulder your holiday load. That way, you can keep the work and the client and still have final editing rights.

On the home front, there’s no end to the resources you can tap into to alleviate holiday stress: grocery delivery, pre-made hors d’oeuvres for your holiday bash, a housekeeping service. Stop thinking you have to do everything on your own and use the people and services around you.

And while you’re putting these three recommendations into practice, don’t forget to take care of yourself physically. I’ve been eating healthier and working out more lately, and I’ve noticed a big difference in my quality of life. Watch your alcohol intake; there are always ample opportunities to get wasted over the holidays, but you’ll be able to manage your obligations and stress much more effectively if you’re not fighting hangovers. And make sure to get plenty of sleep. Focus, creativity, and problem-solving—all of which are needed to write better copy—are blunted by lack of sleep. I’m a big proponent of early to bed and early to rise. Getting up early can help you get your biggest tasks out of the way first.

Happy holidays are possible when you take control. Decide how you want to look back on the 2021 holiday season, create your game plan in advance, and make the deliberate choices that will get you there.

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