The Way We Work
December 1, 2009 by Tamara Rice

santa clockThe holidays make for busy months, and we are about to hit the busiest of them all. If you are like me, your gift-shopping list is longer than your grocery list and your calendar is full of family events and social gatherings (some of which you’d rather skip, truth be told). The problem is, when you work from home, all these pressures and the chaotic pace of the holiday season can be a real drain on productivity.

With that in mind, here are some pointers to keep you from settling into a seasonal work slump:

Don’t shop on the clock. Sure it’s great to have the option of shopping at 10 a.m., when stores are decidedly less busy. Just plan your shopping trips carefully, so your work doesn’t suffer or fall behind. Online shopping is a great alternative for those of us who are already on the internet 24/7, but be sure you aren’t cruising while still logged into your team room!

Don’t be a ‘yes’ man. Just because you can drop everything and run to your child’s school for the holiday bake sale, doesn’t mean you have to. Just because you could add a new client this month doesn’t mean now’s the right time to do it. Sit down now and plan what you will volunteer for this month, what events or parties you will attend and what kind of work hours you can put in. If things look daunting, start saying ‘no’ – and keep saying it.

santa familyDo put your kids first. If you have kids, chances are you’ll have a lot more time with them this month, so consider in advance how to spend it. Kids are only young once–should you take a week off work to enjoy them? And can you afford it? Setting up a week that you will be unavailable to your clients is probably better than promising things you can’t deliver when your kids are out of school and running in circles around your ankles.

Don’t spend more than you can work. There’s little doubt you are going to spend more money than usual this month, just don’t slack off on work and make things worse.  Work as much as you can in the early weeks of December and keep your spending on a tight leash to avoid being broke by the end of the month.

lady christmas shoppingDo write a mission statement for the holidays. That’s right. A mission statement. Summarize briefly what you think is important this month for your work life and your personal life, and then put it in four places where you’ll see it every day. Prioritize each day according to this statement and live by it all month. Reachable goals like more face time with loved ones or gaining one new client can leave you happy and satisfied Christmas morning before you even get to the presents.


Working from home can either liberate you or weigh you down — it’s all about how you do it. Having worked from home for over a decade, I’ve learned what works and what just creates more work. Here at oDesk, you’ll find the tips and tools to do it right.

– Tamara

Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.