Shutting your "work brain" off as an independent author is difficult. You don't have the luxury of leaving work at the office and if you're not working, you're not earning money. Relaxing becomes even more challenging over the holidays, when there is pressure to attend family events and the added expenses of gift shopping.
If this sounds familiar, read on for some tips to survive the annual writers' battle between getting work done and enjoying the holidays.
Most authors are exceptionally well-organized, even if their system involves Post-It notes. During the holidays when people are dropping by for impromptu visits and there are spur of the moment gatherings, it's critical to be organized.
- Use a planner. Whether you use an app, a traditional paper planner, or your phone's calendar, mapping out your schedule is a highly effective way to stay on track. Evidence also suggests that writing things down by hand helps people retain information.
- Block out your time. Schedule everything: Appointments, holiday parties, deadlines, and work hours, leaving some cushion to allow for anything that may come up. This enables you to see at a glance when deadlines are and where you have free time.
Be a stickler about your schedule
While it's tempting to fit in writing at every opportunity, do your best to stick to your typical schedule, working when you are most productive. Since it's beneficial to get into a writing groove, working in short bursts may actually cause you to be unproductive. When you do get to work, be diligent about prioritizing tasks. Knocking out the most important things first will free you up to enjoy the festivities for the rest of the day.
Let your loved ones know what you're working on and what type of schedule you need to maintain, and ask them to respect that. Similarly, communicate to clients and publishers what your working hours will be so they know when they can reach you.
Schedule "me time"
In the same way you schedule deadlines and appointments, pencil in time for yourself, whether it's doing nothing at all or a favorite activity. This allows you to recharge and gives you something to look forward to. It's important to actually schedule it so you treat it with as much importance as any other appointment. As a bonus, stepping away from writing and coming back after a break often generates new ideas.
Don't be Afraid to Say No
When you receive invitations this holiday season, evaluate whether you actually want to go or if it will be the best use of your time -- and be honest with yourself. If you politely decline, it's unlikely anyone will be upset.
Flexibility is one of the best perks about being an independent author, but it can be difficult to balance your workload and personal life, especially during the holidays. Put some of these tips into practice this season to get the most out of both your writing and your downtime.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!