The fridge is full of festive treats, the presents are wrapped and under the tree, and the Christmas specials have started on the TV. It can only mean one thing… It’s the week before Christmas.

As most of us rush around to buy last minute gifts, tie up any loose ends at work and attend carol recitals, nativities and Christmas parties, Christmas when you’re self-employed can look slightly different.

There’s no office Secret Santa, Christmas party, Christmas bonus or paid days off when you work for yourself. If anything, you probably have even more to do to make sure you’re ready to take a break and see family and friends.

For freelancers, the holiday season can often feel like a juggling act between meeting deadlines and making time for festive celebrations. This Christmas, you deserve a stress-free break, prioritising well-deserved time off, while ensuring your financial affairs are in order with the assistance of a skilled accountant.

Here’s how to make sure you get the right work/life balance this festive season by planning ahead, so you have peace of mind that everything will run smoothly whilst you take a break. Evaluate your to-do list, look at your workload and identify any upcoming deadlines so you can plan ahead for them.

Should I tell clients in advance when I’m available over Christmas?

It’s good to communicate with any clients to see when their availability is over the holiday season too, so you’re on the same page with what needs doing and for when.

Not only is it good business practice and good manners, but it also helps you to plan ahead, especially during busy periods. This will manage their expectations for project timescales and also allow them to prepare for when you won’t be available. Set clear expectations on both sides for timelines on projects and response times, letting each other know when you’re available to discuss anything and when you’re not.

If there’s things that you need from clients such as briefs, assets or any further information, speak to them in advance so that you give yourself more time to get the work done.

Update your availability

If you have a website or use social media, make sure you are communicating on there when your availability is over the festive season. Festive open hours tend to differ for all businesses, no matter how big or small, so no one will be surprised if they see reduced hours.

This way, any clients or potential clients will know when you are around. This will help you take a break without interruptions, and is courtesy to anyone who is looking to get in touch with you.

Clear your desk of annoying admin tasks

Alongside finishing off any client projects, keeping on top of your admin and making sure everything is clear and fresh for the new year can really improve your workflow. Update accounts, make sure subscriptions are paid and up to date, sort email and tidy your files to make sure your desk is clear of any mess.

Before Christmas it’s also a good idea to send off any outstanding invoices. Having that cash flow will mean you can confidently take a break without being out of pocket.

How do I decide when to take time off as a Freelancer?

Being your own boss means that you have the ability to pick your own annual leave over Christmas, or any time of the year. No one tells you whether you have to work certain days, so you can work around your own schedule.

How long you decide to take off depends on you and your plans, but other circumstances will need to be thought about. If you have a big project on or deadlines for the end/beginning of the year, you might want to take less time off. Your finances are also something to think about. As a freelancer, as you well know, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

It is worth remembering that many businesses will shut down over the Christmas period though, so even if you do work, you might not be able to communicate with clients, have meetings or get any responses from them.

Embrace the Freelancer Lifestyle

One of the main perks for freelancing is that you’re not tied to your desk in an office. If your job can be done from a laptop, you can work from anywhere. If you are left with unfinished projects or you need to work between Christmas and New Year, don’t let that ruin your break. Yes, it can be a little annoying if other people have finished for the year, but you can still unwind with the flexibility you have.

If your family has chosen to go away for a few nights, work from your cosy cabin or looking out from the balcony onto the beach during downtime to keep on top of everything.

Can I charge more over Christmas as a Freelancer?

If the work you are doing is during unsociable hours, or is what would be deemed ‘overtime’ to someone in employment, you may have a good case to charge more for what you’re doing. In the same vein as supply and demand, your rates should reflect the effort you are making to complete the work.

If you do charge more over the Christmas period for your work, you need to make sure you’re telling clients up front to avoid any awkward conversations down the line. The last thing you want to do is ruin a relationship that you’ve worked hard to achieve.

Can I delegate and outsource as a freelancer?

Freelancers wear multiple hats, and during your busy periods it can all seem a bit too much. Over Christmas, especially in the run up to the self-assessment deadline. One of the easiest ways to outsource some of your workload is to consider appointing an accountant.

Alongside bookkeeping, managing finances and giving you advice on how to develop your business further, they can help you understand your tax and complete self-assessments with no mistakes. Hiring an accountant really can be a game-changer to how you run your business, allowing you to focus on what you do best while financial matters are expertly handled.

Do I need a freelancer accountant?

Keeping on top of your finances as a freelancer can be hard work, but appointing a freelancer accountant at Gorilla Accounting can take all that away for you. Our fixed fee packages for freelancers mean you know where you stand every month, and gives you peace of mind that you can take a break when you need to, and nothing gets forgotten.

Appointing an accountant for peace of mind makes handling financial tasks easy by:

Tax Planning and Compliance:

Ensure your taxes are in order by enlisting the help of an accountant. They can assess your financial situation, provide guidance on deductions, and ensure you’re fully compliant with UK tax regulations.

Invoicing and Cash Flow Management:

An accountant can help make sure your way of invoicing and monitoring cash flow is the most time effective as it can be, ensuring that you’re paid promptly for your hard work. This allows you to step away from the billing process without compromising your income.

Year-End Financial Reports:

The end of the year often brings the need for comprehensive financial reports. An accountant can compile these reports, offering insights into your business’s financial health and areas for improvement.

Budgeting for the Future:

Collaborate with your accountant to create a robust budget for the upcoming year. This can include setting financial goals, identifying potential cost savings, and planning for business growth.

How to get ready for 2024 as a Freelancer

Taking a step away from day to day life gives you room to start thinking about your plan for 2024. Whether you’re looking to increase cash flow, take on more contracts or expand your business in the New Year, having some time to relax and breathe can help you come up with a plan to do just that.

–        Work out what projects you’ve got coming up in January, manage your time for them and make sure you’ve got everything you need to hit the ground running.

–        Make a strategy for any marketing you need to do.

–        If you haven’t already, get everything ready to do your Self-Assessment Tax Return.

–        Draft some emails to clients scoping out if there’s any more work you could help them with in the New Year.

These are just a few simple things to think about so you hit January running hard.

This Christmas, as a freelancer you have the opportunity to truly unwind and recharge by implementing strategic measures and seeking professional support. By planning ahead, setting boundaries, and enlisting the help of an accountant, you can enjoy the festivities guilt-free, knowing that your financial affairs are in capable hands. Treat yourself to the gift of a stress-free holiday break… After all, you’ve earned it!

Contact Gorilla Accounting today to see how we can help you with your freelancer accounting next time you take a break and here’s to a prosperous 2024. Call us on 0330 024 0406 to discuss your options.