by Karin Beery

I’m not going to lie – I love this time of the year. Temperatures are dropping, leaves are changing colors, and all the stores have their Christmas decorations out! In the next two months we get to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day (plus Black Friday, which my family considers its own form of holiday).

In between all of those holidays you’ll probably experience at least one of the following: a company Christmas party, a school pageant/band concert/choir concert, a Christmas concert, Friendsgiving, Christmas caroling … you get the picture! This is a busy time of year. Add to it the time commitment and stress of running your own business, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

If you’re anything like me, one of three things happens when you overbook your schedule: the quality of your work suffers, the quality of your relationships suffer, or the quality of your health suffers.

What if I told you none of those have to suffer? Take a few minutes now to plan, and you can enjoy a less-hectic, suffering-free holiday season.

  • Decide to Plan. Even if you’re not a natural planner, realize that it won’t take long for your calendar to fill up this season. Being proactive now can save your sanity in a few weeks.
  • Prioritize. What are the most important things you need to do this holiday season? Perhaps finishing a book edit for a publisher is more important than attending your neighbor’s granddaughter’s preschool Christmas program; perhaps the program is more important. Sit down with your spouse/family and figure out what events you can’t miss. Then look for ways to bring your personal and professional schedules together.
  • Be Realistic. If you have dance recitals, band concerts, a company party, and four family Christmas dinners on top of an already full editing schedule, don’t take any new jobs. It can certainly be tempting to add a few hundred extra dollars to your Christmas stash, but will you be able to provide the same level of service to your December clients that your April clients receive?
  • Be Honest. Did you already overbook your schedule? Let your clients know before you reach their deadlines. Ask for an extra week or two so you can make sure their projects receive the attention they deserve.
  • Ask for Help. You talked with your client about the extension, but his deadline is firm. Instead of skipping the church Christmas program (and your nephew’s theatrical debut as shepherd #3), ask for help. Yes, it can be hard to pass up the income opportunity, but it also proves to your client that you’re more concerned about the quality of the edit than about the money in your pocket (and it shows your family that you value your holiday traditions). Plus, establishing that kind of relationship with other editors can pay off in the future when they need help.

Some of these steps are easier to do than others, but working through each one will help you create a work and personal holiday schedule that you can live with.

Owner of Write Now Editing and Copywriting Services, Karin Beery specializes in fiction and professional business copy. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the American Christian Writers Association. A Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network member, she is the Substantive Editing for Fiction instructor for the PEN Institute. Karin is represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at Word Wise Media. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website,