How to relax and enjoy your holiday when you know there’s work to do

It’s the holidays, and holidays are supposed to be full of family and joy and laughter and putting aside work for the “things that matter.”

And I totally, 100% advocate for this.

But at the same time, you’re an entrepreneur, and it’s often difficult to “turn yourself off” because you’ve got all of those back-of-your-mind worries like:

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  • what if there’s no new work after the holidays?
  • what if I miss out on the perfect job?
  • what if there’s an urgent client request?
  • after the holidays is going to be so stressful, maybe I should just get some extra work done now

And before you know it, you’re checking your email when you should be spending time with your loved ones.

Or you’re fretting about work at the neighborhood party.

(I’m guessing many of you started freelancing to avoid this scenario! Me too.)

So here’s how to actually relax and enjoy your holiday even when there’s work to be done:

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Walk away

Leave your computer desk. Turn off work email notifications on your phone. (Heck, remove that icon from your phone’s home page!)

Put some space between you and your work environment.

It’s amazing how much easier it is to stop internalizing work when you’re physically away from it.

Live in the moment

You know how easy it is to tell everyone, “I’m busy working, please don’t bother me.”

Now, turn that same laser focus on baking Christmas cookies, playing cards with your family, building snowmen with your nieces / nephews, or having a long conversation with someone you don’t get to see very often.

Be still

True story: After I finished decorating the inside of my house for the holidays, I sat down on the couch and basked in the soft glow of multi-colored Christmas lights.

I took in the tree trimmed with 3 decades of memories in ornaments, the stockings hung around the fireplace, and the little village we add a piece to every year.

And you know what? Tears of joy, nostalgia, love, hope, awe, wonder, the missing of loved ones, and 1000 other feelings fell down my face as I reveled in the emotion of the moment.

It was glorious, and it reminded me exactly who and what to be extremely grateful for in this oh-so-short life.

(And why I’m so thankful to be an entrepreneur.)

Stick to your schedule

There’s always more work. One more client to call. One more RFQ to submit. One more loose end a client wants to finish pre-holiday.

Always.

And that’s a very good thing!

You’ll never “be done,” and it’s hard to find that comfortable place to stop for the day (or in this case, holiday).

So decide on your holiday out-of-office schedule and stick to it.

If you’ve told your clients you’re not working on Wednesday, don’t work on Wednesday. Don’t even check to see if there’s work on Wednesday! (See above…just walk away.)

Pro tip! If you just *must* check in to work to set your mind at ease, set aside specific times when you’ll do this. Otherwise, don’t check in.

Example: 1 hour in the morning, or 2 hours from 3-5pm.

Do something just for you

If you’re anything like me, when you have free time, your mind automatically runs through the list of things you should be doing but haven’t had time for yet.

  • Exercise
  • Wash the dogs
  • Mop the floor
  • Read those tutorials on Photoshop techniques
  • Make a dentist appointment
  • Clean out the hall closet

And play my guitar, or go on a hike / walk along the beach, or put together a puzzle always seems to be at the bottom of a never-ending task list.

Get to it. Taking care of you needs to be a bigger priority than dead last.

How do you relax and enjoy?

Got any tips that help you get away from work without stressing subconsciously? Share ’em in the comments!

And have an absolutely wonderful holiday!


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  1. Great and innovative as always April! Good to have someone out there who understands us better than we do ourselves as freelancers. Or, maybe we are leaving a trail of Christmas “cookies” on the internet? [insert smarty face]

    All the best to you for Christmas and the holidaze!

  2. Great post April. I think just about every freelancer can see themselves in this and it helps to have it ‘verbalized’ and know that it’s natural to have concerns but you need to control the situation and not let it control you. Happy Holidays!

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