You’ve been so well organised all year.

You’ve communicated regularly with clients, ensured all your work is done to the best of your ability and delivered on or before the deadline, filed every invoice, and even kept the receipts for thoseChristmas and freelancing emergency dashes to the local shop for stationery items. The Father Christmas of Freelancers must be smiling down upon you, you think smugly, putting a tick beside the shiny new tablet, Beano Annual and Downton Abbey box set at the top of your Christmas list.

Bus this is the point where it can all go horribly wrong, if you’re not careful. Beware these Festive Pitfalls…

Christmas Creeps onto your Work To-Do List

Don’t let this happen! If you’re meant to be working, work. I don’t care if it’s Black Friday or Blue Monday, mister! Christmas shopping feels urgent. Those limited deals feel urgent. But save browsing through them for lunch times, or when you’re done for the day.

If you can’t do that because you’ve got the Jingle Bell Jitters (you know – that panicked voice in your head that’s permanently calculating the remaining shopping hours until Christmas), then set aside a morning or a day to get the bulk of it done. And then, Get On With Your Work.

People Persistently Invite You Out For Coffee and a Mince Pie/ Christmas Lunch

Be honest with yourself, not only about whether you have the time in your schedule to accept these invites, but about how long this coffee or lunch is going to take – including travelling time and that second glass of wine. Try to combine these trips with present deliveries or shopping to save on time and travel costs.

Perhaps you could invite other friends along too and get all your pre-Christmas socialising done in one go? (Yes, it sounds harsh. Only you know if you have the time and money to spend half of December sipping mulled wine or seasonally flavoured coffees and eating your own weight in Festive Slices. If you have, don’t let me stop you. Mine’s a gingerbread latte).

You Take On Too Much

For many of us, December does come with extra commitments. We do need time to shop, catch up with family and friends, write mountains of Christmas cards, deliver presents, help out at the local Christmas Fayre… so this isn’t the month to take on mountains of work.

The money may come in handy, particularly when the bills arrive in January, but the last thing you want is to be a stressed-out, exhausted wreck by Christmas. Trying to play catch-up on Boxing Day when everyone else is eating chocolates and watching Christmas telly is no fun either. Aim for a realistic balance between work, relaxation and money requirements.

You Let Everything Slide

Don’t! Keep track of deadlines and invoices, make sure you’re on schedule to complete work (preferably before 10pm on Christmas Eve!), and communicate regularly with clients. Make sure they know your availability over the Christmas period well in advance – and that you know when they’ll be available, too. If you’re old-fashioned and like to use a diary or calendar, get next year’s as soon as possible so you can start marking out deadlines and scheduling work.

I’m sure there are more pitfalls but frankly, I can’t hang around. This text from my friend says my latte is cooling off at the local hostelry and apparently, if I get there quickly, I can have a warm mince pie. With cream.

Ho Ho Ho!