If you work freelance or own your own small business, December can be a tricky month to deal with. If you’re not working in the retail or service industries, work tends to get a bit quieter around this time of year. Often, other companies are preoccupied with clearing their slate ready for the New Year and dealing with other important matters such as the annual Christmas party.

Do the things you’ve been putting off all year

If things are tumbleweed quiet for you at this time of year, it’s a good idea to prioritise those tasks that you spend the rest of the year putting off. Think filling out your tax returns, updating your growth business strategy and researching  new marketing methods to invest in once the New Year rolls around.

Make the most of being your own boss

If you haven’t already seen it, this years’ Sainsbury’s advert (below) is all about not having enough time to spend with family. But for the freelancer, this can be one of the best things about being your own boss. You get to dictate when you take time off, which at Christmas, can often feel a lot less guilt-ridden than other times of the year as other businesses are also winding down for the Christmas break.

Of course, one of the biggest downsides to working freelance is that your holidays are unpaid. But, if you’re savvy with your time, you can plan ahead and work a little bit extra in the months and weeks leading up to Christmas to make sure you can truly relax during your holiday.

Stick to your guns

Once you’ve made the decision to take the time off, it’s really important that you really stick to your guns. When your last day of work for the year arrives, turn your out-of-office on, log-off all business related accounts, update your answerphone message and switch off your work mobile until the New Year. Before you do, though, it might be an idea to speak to your biggest clients about when they are closing up for the Christmas break to make sure your holidays neatly coincide so there’s little chance that you’ll miss out on any work or harm your reputation with them. It’s also a good idea to update your website with a quick message to let new and existing clients know that you will not be available over the Christmas break and provide information about when you will be returning back to work in the New Year.

Reward yourself with a Christmas party

If you own a limited company, you might be pleased to know that there are some tax exemptions that will help you throw a Christmas party for your small business – whether you’re on your own or have just a few employees. Find out more information about this here.

Try not to panic

Yes, December can be tough if you’re a freelancer or own your own business. You might spend a few sleepless nights wondering how you’ll be able to get yourself through the festive period but it’s important to try not to panic. The Christmas lull is natural and, more importantly, it’s temporary. So try to stay focused on the good things it affords you – a chance to reward yourself and employees for all their hard work during the year, the opportunity to catch up on the unpaid admin that’s been piling whilst you’ve been pursuing paid projects and – best of all – guilt-free time off with the family.