Every year, hundreds of freelancers share a similar holiday experience: visiting with family, friends, and relatives who expect you to spend time with them.
The problem? You’ve also got to make money. Some people get paid vacation; you get to figure out how to keep running your business while your mom forces everyone to wear matching sweaters for the annual holiday photo.
However, your holiday doesn’t have to be unproductive. You can make it work and get your work done. You just have to get a little creative.
1. Take long “showers”
The last time you lived at home, your parents probably remember you taking 20-minute showers. Use that to your advantage. Tell your folks you’re going to take a shower, but write a 600-word blog post instead while you’re sitting on the toilet. The impending knock and “are you okay in there?” from your nosy relative will push you to finish it quickly, and you’ll wonder why you don’t do this more often.
2. Be a good helper
Volunteer to bring the holiday decorations down from the attic. Take a little extra time to find them. If your relatives ask what took so long, just tell them you got nostalgic about all the dust-covered boxes that haven’t moved since Jimmy Carter was president.
3. Make one too many grocery runs
Offer to help your folks out by running to the grocery store for those last-minute holiday supplies. Make sure there’s a Starbucks attached so you can sit down and revise an article.
If that isn’t enough time, make sure to forget a few important items. You’ll have an excuse to go back to the store later that evening. Don’t worry, Starbucks baristas don’t judge.
4. Watch the big game
Tell your dad you’ll watch the big game with him. He’ll be asleep in 20 minutes, which means you can pull out your laptop and get to work.
If you’re the dad in this situation, just tell your folks you’re checking your fantasy scores. If they wonder why you’re typing so much, inform them that they wouldn’t understand your masterful fantasy skills and that dad needs to focus anyway.
5. Waste way too much time “on Facebook”
If your mom asks what you’re doing on your phone, don’t say “I’m pre-scheduling social media posts for the article that goes live tomorrow morning.” Don’t say “I’m checking to see how many retweets my last piece got.” Don’t say “I’m emailing a client who’s two months late on a payment.”
Say “Facebook.” Everyone else will probably be doing the same thing, anyway.
6. Spend quality time with your young family members
Tell your young siblings—or nieces or grandchildren, depending on your age—that you would love to play hide-and-seek with them. They’ll go hide, and you’ll count to 100 before opening up your laptop. When you’re done working, yell “Olly olly oxen free!” and tell your the little ones that they won. They’re happy, you’re happy—everyone’s happy.
7. Be a social butterfly
Say that you’re meeting a friend or two for coffee (make sure to name the most obscure friend you can think of). Your “friend” is actually your editor, and “meeting” is the two of you emailing back and forth about a draft, but if you drink a cup of coffee during this exchange, it counts.
8. Work through every poop
Amazon employees do it, so you can do it too.
9. Stay up, sleep in
Chances are your parents—or your kids—go to bed several hours before you do. This is prime freelancing time. Put your loved ones to bed, open up that laptop, and get to work like the workaholic you are.
There’s also nothing wrong with “sleeping in,” which are two words you can almost re-arrange to spell “secretly freelancing.”
10. Or, you know, be honest
Be honest with your family. No, seriously. If you tell your family that you need to get some work done while you’re home for the holidays, they’ll probably be fine with it.
For 10 more tips that are a bit more serious, head over to this post by Julie Collazo.