It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Christmas. Thanksgivingkah. Yes, the holidays are here. And for freelancers, it’s particularly interesting. What to do when you don’t have an office party to call your own?

I like the Freelancers Union’s approach to this – on December 9th, they’re holding an Unoffice Holiday Party in New York, giving freelancers and independent business owners a chance to mingle in one place. You can be sure I’ll be there; I’m even bringing a friend.

As a freelancer over the years, I’ve been pretty lucky, though. My friends tend to invite me to their office parties as an honorary employee. And of course, there’s usually a client luncheon or party; those are always nice, too.

When it comes to gifts, it’s mandatory to remember the agencies/clients who continually give you work. Even if business was lean this year, a pretty card can’t hurt, or a bottle of wine, box of chocolates. While most consider this to be common sense and good etiquette, you’d be surprised how many people forget that a bit of thanks goes a long way. A Director friend of mine was shocked a couple of years ago when she didn’t receive one bottle of wine from her freelance editors. That’s a no-no.

To conclude: always acknowledge the companies that help you pay your bills and put food on the table. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Image




How to thrive under pressure

Late nights. Deadlines. Dozens of emails. Common factors many of us face, especially in the world of Production.

How to cope? I’ve created a list of 5 Top Tips that are sure to lower your blood pressure at work.

1. Play music: Music helps tremendously. Some may argue that it can distract you from your work. Not the case for this writer. Pandora has been a Godsend for me these past few weeks. I even played Christmas music while working on a Friday night. Let yourself be lulled by your favorite tunes, especially if you tend to work solo like I do from my house. Pick a band or song that matches your mood in a given moment. Did you just have a flash of brilliance that your client is going to love? Or is he/she driving you nuts? There’s a tune for those situations. Of course, if you are working in an office, get those headphones out!

2. Breathe: Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But taking deep breaths when you’re stressed really does help. During my most stressful moments, I heard the words of my athletic trainer saying, “Breathe! Breathe!” – and that’s exactly what I did. Really made a difference. And you don’t even have to go to a Lamaze class!

3. Develop a rapport with your colleagues on the project (if you haven’t already): Misery loves company. Triumphs are better in twos. You get the idea. Share your thoughts/ideas/emotions/wins with fellow co-workers assigned to your project. Is something baffling you that you need input about? Do you need a second opinion about a creative idea? Are your eyeballs about to fall out from squinting at a document for nearly 12 hours straight? Don’t be afraid to vent a little, whether it means stopping by someone’s cubicle, sending an IM or text, or picking up the phone. What your mother taught you is applicable in this situation: getting things off your chest works wonders for stress.

4. Take short breaks: No matter how much work you have on your plate, it’s essential to take short breaks from time to time. Run out and grab a sandwich. Take a walk. Phone a friend. Jump on the treadmill. Your eyes, head and stress levels will thank you.

5. Finally, keep a calendar nearby: Remember, projects end. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Acknowledge that your stress is temporary and will disappear soon. Stare at your calendar and look forward to positive events on your horizon: a Christmas party perhaps? Dinner with friends? A hot date? A fun shopping excursion? Focus on all the good stuff you’ll be doing once the project is over. In short, always look at the bigger picture and you’ll be okay.


The mind-body connection

One of the perks of freelance life is that you often get to create your own hours. Even while on deadline (which is the case for a current project I’m working on), I still manage to set aside a small window to work out every other day.

In the old days, I used to use work as an excuse to skip the gym. “I’m too busy to get there,” I used to tell myself. Or shall I say, rationalize? “I’ll get there tomorrow.” “Well there’s always the weekend.” Both common expressions that crossed my lips.

However, I recently made a pact with myself that I will try to get to the gym no matter what. Not that I’m becoming a gym rat or anything. It’s because I’ve now discovered the true mind-body connection that so many of us may have heard about (or read about) but never experienced first-hand.

When I work out, I write better. I produce better. I think more clearly. My stress levels go down. It’s because of the good energy that comes with working out. It rids my body of toxins and negativity and creates a positive flow of energy.

More importantly, working out gets me moving! As a writer, I’m often sedentary. When I’m at the gym, I run, I flex, I bend, I tone.

And for those freelancers who might say, “I can’t afford a monthly gym membership, it’s too expensive,” have no fear. There is plenty you can do to stay active without breaking the bank.

My favorite non-gym activity? Taking the subway. More specifically, the R to F train transfer at Fourth Avenue/9th Street in Brooklyn. There are soooo many stairs to climb at that station that even the fittest person winds up huffing and puffing on the last few steps. A few weeks ago I ran into a young video editor I used to work with and even he was breathing heavily during our ascent to the F train stop. While it’s a challenging transfer, you legs, butt and thighs will thank you later. Image(The F train pulling into the Fourth Avenue station in Brooklyn).