Festive Week Nikki McCaig

A Festive Week In The Life of a Freelancer

We’re mid-way through December, the most festive month of them all and oh boy are we getting busy. With presents to buy, trees to decorate, baking to do and deadlines to hit, it’s a crazy time of year – both personally and professionally – for a freelancer working from home. Whilst I do love being at home throughout Christmas, with the fairy lights and the decorations making everything feel cosy and welcoming, it can be a harsh contrast to the heavy workload facing me before the year is out.

So I thought I would share a little insight into the average week of December for me – if such a thing exists – for anyone interested in working from home in the festive season!

Monday: Emails, Prepping and Planning

I’ve recently gotten into the habit of starting my days earlier and finishing them earlier too. I like to wake up at around 6am, pad into the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee in my favourite Christmas mug, before settling down on the sofa to get started. Still wrapped in my pyjamas and dressing gown, I start working through my emails – deleting any spam, replying to any urgent enquiries, colour-coding and labelling them accordingly. I try to keep a very organised inbox, as the minute it starts to get cluttered I can feel my anxiety spike.

I also find that I’m at my most creative in these dark hours, when the world is still asleep and silent. So I tend to work on the more creative projects and tasks then; blog posts, copy and writing. Then at around 9am, I’ll get dressed, grab another coffee and sit down at my desk.

Mondays are usually a busy old day, especially at Christmas time, with the last week of the month being a complete write off from all clients. Unfortunately this means that I have to cram as much work into the remaining 3 weeks of the month to be able to make up the numbers when it comes to invoicing. I like to plan out what needs doing from both a working perspective and personal one. I draw up to-do lists, Christmas shopping lists, festive chores lists and food shopping lists to help me feel ready for the week ahead. I’ve even got a spreadsheet to help me keep track of my presents, which ones have been wrapped and their exact location under the tree… like I said, it’s a very busy month.

At 2pm, I throw on my coat and head out for a therapy session. This usually takes an hour, and luckily I don’t live too far away from my therapists office, so it doesn’t take too much time out of my day. Once I’m back, I’ll grab my last coffee of the day, and work on setting up any social schedules for the week ahead. At around 4pm, I tend to switch off my computer and head into the kitchen to do some food prepping. After we do the big shop on Saturday mornings, I like to start prepping for our meals on Monday evenings – sticking on the radio and getting to work. I make up batches of soups, stews and curries, chopping and peeling until my hands get sore as a welcome distraction from my screen.

Tuesday: Advents, Wrapping and Designing

By Tuesday morning, I’ll usually remember that I forgot to have my advent calendar for the day before, so I’ll sneak out two chocolates before I get to work. I’m still up at 6am, turning on the heating early to make sure I don’t freeze in the chilly winter mornings. Tuesday’s are typically quieter days, so I like to catch up on some admin jobs – designing invoices, curating imagery and organising my digital folders.

Throughout the morning, I tend to work on editing social schedule content – making any necessary amends to content and adding logos to images for Instagram feeds. I like to plan Instagram feeds in grids of 9, to help me figure out what the feed will look like for any new visitors, meaning I have to find 9 images and captions ahead of schedule every single week.

This tends to fill up the day quite quickly, as well as keeping on top of my emails and responding to any comments on my blog. By 4pm, I like to sit down and catch up on my wrapping. Although I did most of it at the start of the month, there always seems to be more to do, whether it’s adding ribbon to a blank gift, writing out gift tags or popping presents in bags for travelling. Then I like to relax for the evening, turning off my phone for a while to just enjoy the night.

Wednesday: Coffee Meetings, The Apprentice and Crafts

On Wednesday, I tend to spend a little less time away from my computer and more time in meetings in coffee shops. Sometimes I meet up with friends, other times it’s a business meeting, but scheduling my external appointments on Wednesday means that I have the rest of the week to catch up with any work or action any outcomes from the meetings.

Usually, this means I can award myself a bit of a later start to the day, as I find it hard to get started on a big task if I know I’ll have to leave halfway through. I catch up with a couple of my favourite content creators, stick on some Christmas music, reply to any personal messages, update my diary and then head out.

After my meetings, I always like to spend an extra-hour in town, writing up any notes and grabbing some lunch whilst I’m there. I’m a firm believer in the follow up email, as I’ve found that so much time can be wasted through simple miscommunication. Then I’ll head out into the city, running any errands, heading to the bank or the post office, picking up any essentials whilst I’m out of the house.

Once I’m back, I’ll usually try to finish off any last jobs and then get started on a festive crafty project. Whether that’s making homemade crackers, baking salt-dough baubles or turning old Christmas cards into gift cards, I find it a really nice way to wind down and relax after a hectic day. Then of course, I’ll pop on The Apprentice and lose myself in the struggles of someone else’s business life for an hour before heading straight to bed.

Thursday: Home Office, Lunch Dates and Photography

On Thursday mornings, I’m back awake at 6am, curled up on my sofa with my coffee again. I’ll respond to more emails, make any edits to copy work or socials, and then work on my own blog post for the week. This can take a couple of hours to work through, finding images and optimising the post before I can finally hit publish. Then I’ll hop in the shower, get dressed and give the house a quick tidy before my Marketing Assistant arrives.

Once Celie gets to the flat, we’ll have a quick catch up over a coffee on how the week has been and then both get to work. I’ll set her a list of jobs to do, such as working on socials, taking photos for Instagram or curating an outreach strategy and then we get stuck into our jobs for a couple of hours. At around 1pm, Celie heads off to work from home and I like to pop out to lunch with Elliot. It’s a nice treat for us both before Friday, and one that we both look forward to as a midday break from work.

In the afternoon, I’ll start promoting my blog post and work on my own projects for a while – designing festive prints, outreaching my work to publications or improving my Pinterest boards. It’s a really nice way to finish off the day and I always feel better once it’s done.

Friday: Pool, Analytics and Travel

festive week

On Fridays, I still work in my favourite design studio in the city centre. It’s such a welcome break from working from home, and it’s nice to be around other people for a change. I like to grab a coffee from a cafe on the way in, and then we usually have a rather competitive game of pool before the day starts. Then it’s a morning meeting and back to work.

I tend to be responsible for the analytics – both social and web – and it’s quite a therapeutic process, working my way through sheets of data. Particularly around Christmas, our social figures can tend to rise, so it’s always worth keeping track of them. At lunchtime, I usually head to Starbucks and grab another coffee and a sandwich, and finish off any errands in town before I go back to the office.

After I finish up my day there, Elliot usually heads over and picks me up. In any normal month, we like to go swimming on Friday nights and get some lengths in before the weekend starts. But at Christmas, it feels like we do nothing but travel. From visiting family, to breaks away to overnight shopping trips – the travel never ends. So we tend to spend our Friday nights packing or on the road. Still, it’s always nice to change up our routine a little.

So that’s my week! It’s a little chaotic, a little hectic, but it’s Christmas. What else did you expect?

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions about my week or my work, then let me know!