One benefit of being in the rat race (a.k.a. having a ‘regular’ job) is that you get paid annual leave to take over the Christmas/New Year holidays, when most businesses shut their doors for at least a couple of weeks.
But what if you are a freelance consultant? Generally speaking, if you’re not working you’re not getting paid.
If you have some fixed price or success-based fee work, and you can work on that even while your client’s business is closed for the holidays, then great – you can work through the holidays if you like.
What, I Can’t Work on Anything?
But what if that isn’t the case for you, and you’re not getting paid? Well hopefully you have planned for this time and managed your cash flow accordingly, in which case you can think of this as forced annual leave. While that may not be a good thing if you need the money, it’s actually a great opportunity to do some cleaning up and to take a step back and evaluate where you are and where you’re heading.
Get Your House in Order
I’m sure you’ve got all your paperwork and invoicing in order and completely up to date like I have, right? Yeah, right. Well now is the perfect time to do that – all the things you normally don’t get to do because you’re busy – without clients pressuring you. Of course, you may have family pressuring you instead. Just work out a schedule where you’re not working the whole time, and explain to them that this is important for your livelihood.
Look at the Big Picture
In general I don’t think we freelancers spend enough time thinking about whether or not we’re heading in the right direction, or even where we’re heading at all. We’re too busy working! But I think it’s critical that we think about two ‘big picture’ items in particular: how to do what we do better, and how we will eventually stop doing it.
Ultimately we want to make more money, work less, or both. So how do we achieve that? And one day you will want to, or have to, stop working. What then? I’ll cover both these items in more depth in a future post.
Take a Break
The ‘forced annual leave’ over the Christmas/New Year holiday is the ideal time to get your house in order, take stock of where you are, and do some big picture planning for your future.
And don’t forget to actually take some time off, relax, and recharge your batteries.