The last month of the year is alternately insanely busy and insanely unproductive, for most photographers. Work is sporadic–some years December is crazy-busy with clients and other years you can hear the crickets. But somehow, for me at least when I was a studio manager and later producing, it always felt frantic.
I encourage you to try and control the madness some. You know you have outside commitments this time of year, so don’t overbook the working hours. There are parties and open houses and events galore and you should try to go to many of these. These are great places for networking and taking the effort to go and (re)connect with people can pay off in the future.
At the same time, if you have lots of projects to shoot, you aren’t going to be able to do everything. I’m not saying don’t take the work–I am suggesting trying to schedule a balance.
For example, I have a huge final project for my Business Planning class (in law school) plus 4 exams to study for, plus putting out another Creative Lube & all the usual biz stuff, plus doing the usual holiday shopping… all before Christmas. I still made the time to meet out of town with a photographer/friend the other day, to go to the local APA holiday party, and I intend to at least stop in at the ASMP party later this week. It takes some picking and choosing, but it can be done.
Here is what I try to do when I look at the list of things I need to get done: I try to pick something that will get me in contact with my targets (like the APA and ASMP parties) and make sure they get significant priority in my schedule. That person-to-person contact is crucial for building and maintaining a business. Holiday events are fantastic ways to do this. If your local creative groups (AIGA, adclub, etc.) throw an event, find a way to go and SOCIALIZE! Have fun, be gregarious, but try not to be the guy everyone talks about for having panted Santa or other drunken exploits.
Anyway, then I schedule in my school commitments, then my other business ones (my current priority system, during exams), and my personal (shopping) ones. I know where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing pretty much for every minute at least through my exams. The frantic-ness is about as reduced as it can be. There is work and fun in the mix.
I hope you can find a system to balance your holiday schedule. It makes December a much more pleasant month.