Surviving the Year End Drought
The last two weeks of the year tend to be about tying up loose ends and generally not get a whole lot of work done. It might be the most wonderful time of the year as the song implies but it’s not the most productive. It’s no secret that websites see a noticeable decline in traffic at the end of the year, so chances are your regular clients aren’t looking for new content to publish during this two week period. People use this time to travel and visit their families and might actually put their smartphones down for a while. A gadget website isn’t going to get a lot of hits on blogs about tech content when a large share of the audience is busy opening those gadgets on Christmas Day, so why would they want to publish quality content then?
Welcome to the No-Productivity Zone
Freelance writers may find themselves in a very different situation during the holidays: they have an abundance of time to get work done and nothing to do. This is especially true
for part-time writers that hold day jobs that shut down at the end of the year. On those days you’re not traveling or visiting relatives you might feel like you’d rather be getting some writing done to make some extra cash, but you can’t because there is no work. Try the following tips to at least put some productivity back in your down time.
Do Some Accounting
Do you know how much your clients paid you this year? Do you know if you received a check or payment for each assignment you’ve completed? If you don’t, the end of the years is the perfect time to catch up on all of that. Clients that you do a lot of work for will typically send you a 1099-Misc form that tells you how much they paid you, but 1099s do not tell the entire story. You still owe taxes on your earnings even when you don’t get a 1099, so make sure you’ve accounted for all of your projects throughout the year. Additionally, this is great time to make sure you received payment for all your work. If a client sent you several checks at once, make sure you received payment for everything you completed. If you don’t have copies of the checks or didn’t keep records, you can use your bank account deposit records to fill in the blanks. This information can also help you determine if you’re going to owe any tax payments to the government. If you do and work a second payroll-based job, you can contact your HR to remove deductions from your W4 so you don’t end up owing a substantial sum at the end of the year. Alternatively, you can calculate how much you expect to earn next year to determine quarterly tax payments.
Clean up your Desk
Even when you’ve gone all digital, it can be astounding how much junk your desk accumulates throughout the year. This problem gets worse if you do all of your work on the computer itself because you have no need beyond appearances to avoid clutter. Well, the end of the year drought means you’ve run out of excuses. Sort and discard the documents that have built up through the year, dust off the parts of the desk that never get used, and clean the gunk out of your keyboard. This is also a good time to use compressed air to clean dust and debris out of your computer hardware, which helps keep those devices running longer. That office improvement project you’ve been holding off on doing? This is the time to do it. Get your act together now with your workspace so you won’t have to worry about it in January when the work starts pouring in again.
Take a Break
As a final point, you may notice that all of your hard work throughout the year is taking a bit a toll on your mental acuity: all of those late nights trying to finish extra projects is wearing you out. Since there’s not going to be a whole lot of work to get done, enjoy some time off at the end of the year. That way you can get back to work in January feeling refreshed and productive.
Dan S is a former news journalist turned web developer and freelance writer. He has a penchant for all things tech and believes the person using the machine is the most important element.
4-Star writer Dan S is a computer expert, web programmer and award-winning Journalist.