The Way We Work

christmas holiday communication oneAt the close of the year, most remote contractors can become distracted by the trappings of one holiday or another — whether it’s Ashura, Hanukkah, Advent, Las Posadas, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, or another set of observances. You might be fasting, or making ginger snap cookies, or lighting candles, or buying gifts and attending religious ceremonies (and we haven’t even factored in the school holidays of our darling children), but if you throw in flu season and some out-of-town relatives you could have full-on chaos around your home office right now.

So, how do you stay on top of your freelance and contracting work at a time like this? One thing most of us have learned is that communication and at least a little bit of careful planning are key:

1. Take an actual holiday from work. Decide now which days you will take off of work and let all your employers know in writing. You need some boundaries. Especially this time of year. (Just don’t forget to communicate them!)

2. Plan ahead. Going somewhere and need to work while you are there? Make sure you’ll have Internet access now, not when you get there (hotels with free wifi and airports with wifi). If school holidays give you childcare nightmares, arrange what you need now … don’t put it off, or you’re likely to end up in a bind. Think ahead, plan ahead.

2. Broadcast your hours. Put any “holiday hours” on your email signature and on your voicemail outgoing message. Keeping set work hours may be more important this month than any other time of year.

3. Be organized. Keep track of your tasks and look at them daily. (This goes for work and for personal tasks, if you want to keep a handle on all the holiday-related comings and goings!) Get yourself organized now — there’s still time!

4. Communicate. Stay in touch with your employers. They are under stress as well. If you are past deadline, text them, call them — go out of your way this time of year to keep them in the loop, especially if a crisis comes up.

5. Send out some holiday cheer. Consider sending a holiday greeting to current and past employers. It’s courteous, friendly, and it may just get you some extra contract work in the New Year by reminding past employers just how wonderful you are!

christmas holiday communicationLastly, don’t forget that whatever it is you are celebrating only comes once a year. Make time for it! Make time for your family and friends and for traditions you treasure. But do skip the stuff that brings you undue stress. Hate baking? Buy the cookies for that holiday party! Hate the frenzied shopping at stores? Buy gift cards or shop online. By remembering each day that you are a person, a family member, a friend and a professional contractor (in that order!) and by taking time to nurture each aspect of who you are, you might just stand a chance of surviving this chaotic time of year!

How do you handle the holidays and a contracting career? Let us know in the comments!

tamaraforodesksmallerTamara 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. She sees the twinkling lights of Christmas and loses all short-term memory capability for the month of December — making daily to-do lists a must!

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.