How I Prepare For the Holiday Season Go-slow

presentsHoliday season is just around the corner. Some of us will stay home, some will go away. Some will work every day that’s not a public holiday, or on which our presence is not required elsewhere by friends and family. Others will take days, if not weeks, of time out from work. Some will remain connected at every moment, come hell or high water. Others will switch off, kick back, and only get online to read the news, check personal accounts, or find out if the weather will be fair tomorrow.

Whatever your plans, there’s a lot for the web worker to prepare before the holiday season hits and business in many parts of the world grinds almost to a halt. Here are some of the steps I’m taking to ensure things don’t go pear-shaped over the next month or two.

1. Work Plan

When time is short, I like to prepare a work plan which outlines what I need to do and how much time I have to do it in. I break those tasks down to a daily to-do-list and endeavor to stick to it. I make note of the date on which I can expect work to return to normal, so that I can ensure I’m prepared to hit the ground running when the wheels of commerce start turning again.

Like many freelancers, I’ll also be looking at my task list from a budget perspective this holiday season: How many billable hours will I need to fit in between now and when things pick up again in the new year? And where can I find work to fill any budget gaps?

2. Holiday Plan

You probably already have an idea of how much time you’d like to take off this holiday season, and how much vacation time you’ll be able to take. Once I’ve got an idea of the amount of work I have to do, I can schedule my break time to take in commitments with family and friends. But my vacation timeframe will also be affected by my colleagues’ and clients’ schedules.

We’ve all been through the frustration of working when everyone else is holidaying: you can’t get the inputs you need, you have trouble accessing information or gaining approvals — it can be a real nightmare, not to mention a complete waste of time.

Of course, depending on the types of jobs you have to do, you may find this “quiet time” while everyone else is vacationing to be a blessing for your productivity.

3. Connectivity Plan

Whether you’ll be Twittering pictures of your Thanksgiving turkey as it’s being devoured, or you’re heading for the hills, to a little place with no phone or web access, it’s fair to say that all web workers need some sort of connectivity plan for the holiday season.

For me, that plan will entail periods without connection. But work commitments will necessitate that I’m not away from my computer for more than a few days at a time. I’ll build this into my schedule as well, and try to stick to it on the basis that the break from the everyday will do me good.

Your connectivity plan may, of course, necessitate a packing list if you’re going away and need to take your gear with you, or even a wishlist of equipment you’d be happy to receive as gifts this season…

4. Goal Plan

Depending on your work and workload, you may choose, as I will, to set a rough goal plan for next year now.

Yes, now. I don’t want to sail into the new year and then start wondering what I’m going to do next. As a remote worker, I find that planning past the holiday season helps my motivation, and lets me maintain momentum through the lazy days ahead.

In some ways, it even helps me to relax over the holiday season: since I know I have things to get on with after the break, I don’t spend the time worrying about what’ll happen when the fun stops.

These are the kinds of plans I make against the ravages of the heady holiday season. How about you?