The sleigh bells may be ringing, but that’s not much good to you if you can’t hear them for your phone ringing and your email pinging every few minutes.

We all know it can be hard to put boundaries on our freelance hours, but if you want to spend Christmas Eve finishing off last minute details before hopping off early to start the festivities, you need to take action NOW.

Inform Clients of Your Intended DowntimeFive Ways to Put the Ho Ho Ho in Your Holidays

Some long-term projects may be entirely down to you to schedule – so hopefully, you allowed for some time off over the festive period when you planned and pitched for the work in the first place.

Other jobs, though, may require regular or scheduled input from you. Make sure you’ve informed clients of your intention to take time away from work and what they can expect from you and when Also, ensure they’re clear about how, why and when they can contact you. If you’re off somewhere with little or no internet and/or mobile signal, make sure they know – otherwise, they may presume they’re being ignored.

Resist The Urge to Take On That ‘Quick’ Job.

Unless it’s a transparent project from a reliable, realistic client you know well, this ‘quick’ job may end up ruining your Christmas. Yes, Christmas can be an expensive time of year, but exhausting and stressing yourself by squeezing every working hour and penny out of the fortnight beforehand isn’t worth it. Come the New Year, you’ll be shattered and less productive!

Give Yourself a Shopping Day

Many employees are given a day’s special leave to do Christmas shopping and organisation, and if they’re not, many book a day or half-day anyway. Consider allowing yourself a shopping day or some early Friday finishes to get things done – and do it sooner rather than later.

You may think this will mean you get less work done, but knowing these tasks are out the way or those gifts for people difficult to buy for are out the way will help to clear your mind of nagging distractions. This will help you focus on your work and get it all done and dusted before the big day.

Be Flexible But Organised

Unexpected guests, gifts that are out of stock, long queues and interminable traffic jams – all these things can ruin your work schedule in the run-up to Christmas, so try not to jam-pack this final fortnight with work. Prioritise, tend on the generous side when you’re estimating how long things will take to complete, and always know what’s most urgent to tackle next – this will mean that you can make the very best use of any time you do have. Use your freelance flexibility to your advantage.

Be organised: ensure any invoices due to be paid are submitted well before Christmas to give your bank account the best chance of a festive top-up and tie up any loose ends such as paperwork, estimates or phone calls, so that clients aren’t left waiting over Christmas.

Down Tools – and Leave Them Down!

How much time you allow yourself off and when is a personal choice. It will depend on if and how you celebrate Christmas, where you go and who with – and of course, it will depend on how much time away your clients take, too.

But try to stick to your intended dates for stopping and resuming work and once you’ve downed tools, leave them down! However you plan to spend your holiday, ensure you cut off from work completely and relax so that you can return to it refreshed.

Of course, if you end up with unexpected time on your hands in the run-up to Christmas and you haven’t yet submitted your tax return, getting it done and out the way for a worry-free holiday may be one of the best presents you could give yourself… Merry Christmas!