An FFJ day in the life
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This week we have been inspired by Anna Codrea-Rado’s recent A-Mail newsletter taking a look at how she organises her time. We too are always fascinated by what the day of other freelancers looks like so we thought we’d do a random snapshot of our day starting with Emma. Other members of the team will share their versions at some point this year. We’d love to hear back from you too so head to the Facebook community to share your working patterns.
7am: It’s Monday morning and I need to get my brain back in the zone after a week away for half term. During sunny Norfolk beaches, seal trips and amusement arcades, I didn’t think about work much at all. I really had limped to the holiday feeling a bit unmotivated but I’m refreshed once more and now is the time to get my freelance hat on. I usually wake up (or am woken up by a small child shouting “cannon ball” while leaping at us) at around 7am and then have that first cup of tea in bed while checking emails, social media, whether anyone has actually paid me, and of course doing the obligatory Wordle. Turns out on Sunday I had been so relaxed after a week off I forgot to do it thus ending an 82-day streak - whoops.
8am: I usually get to my desk somewhere between 8-9am, depending on which one of us is taking the kids to school. I like to have my breakfast in peace once they’ve gone while getting my head round what I need to do. But today is an Inset day so they’re at home. My other half has gone to the office so my plan is to let them fend for themselves with Lego and TV while occasionally popping upstairs to feed them. Today I get to work by 8.30am and while I would usually have left myself a to-do list on Friday, the holiday has thrown that out of the window, so the first half an hour is spent sorting emails, updating the diary and remembering what it is I do.
9:30am: Most of the time, I like to do some quick admin jobs first to ease me into my day. It ticks a few things off and is not too strenuous. It could be sending invoices, chasing invoices, updating my commissions spreadsheet, etc. This is also the time that I do any admin that’s needed for the Facebook group, including admitting new members. We tend to divide up the FFJ work as we go and today Lily is sorting a load of emails. Today is also the first day of our four-week online course with journalism.co.uk so I contact all our sign ups with details of our Slack group and send a welcome message. I also check in with Helen, our research assistant who has been sorting out the logistics for the next podcast series we hope to record this month.
10:30am: After throwing some snacks at the kids and grabbing a cup of tea (there’s always a lot of tea) it’s time to get on to my main task today which is to write a news feature on some conference coverage. I did the ground work for this before I left but now need to put it all into a coherent article. It’s really complicated and involves lots of different documents and listening to recordings of proceedings to find some good quotes. It does mean I need to concentrate so I close down social media and emails for a while to get my head around it all.
12am: It’s lunchtime which normally would mean a walk to the shops, perhaps a run or a quiet cheese toastie while listening to a podcast and doing some jobs round the house. But today it’s feeding the masses (the eldest child has convinced a friend to come and hang out) and cleaning up the mess they’ve made while I’ve been working. To be fair it only takes 30 minutes and I’m back to it.
1pm: I’ve got to that ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ part of the feature so take a break to sort some emails that have come in. There’s a commission, an editor reminding me to send an invoice I had completely forgotten about (thank you lovely editor), another apologising for not having looked at a feature I submitted before half term yet. There’s also a video chat to set up for tomorrow to discuss some new work. I spot a couple of press releases that I may need for a news shift I’m doing later in the week so I file those away.
3pm: After a hour or so more on the feature, it’s finished a day before deadline. It’s for a new publication (part of a publishing group I do other work for) and they didn’t provide me with much of a brief so I decide the best thing is to send the draft and ask them if it needs any changes. Treat myself to a cuppa and a biscuit.
4pm: I normally work til 5-5.30 when I need to go pick the kids up but I need to finish early today because I have an appointment and have to get tea in the oven to hand over to my partner who will be home to take over. I spend the final bit of the day sorting some more emails and pondering a potential pitch I want to send later in the week that needs a little bit more research. There is quite a bit of scrolling through Twitter at this point to catch up on what’s happening. And I finalise an email to a potential guest for the next podcast series after tracking down her contact details.
4.30pm: The last thing I do before I log off for the day is to write my list for tomorrow so I know what I need to do in the morning. I have two news shifts later this week as well as a few features with longer deadlines that I also need to make a start on. Having that list (just in a notebook on my desk - no fancy apps for me) helps me to avoid wasting time. Since the kids are all now school age, my main aim is to get everything done in working hours with no evening or weekend working. It’s a work in progress.
You can find out more about Emma at https://emmawilkinson.net
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Triumph of the week
Finishing work at 4.30pm two days in a row!
That feeling when
You finally get paid a big chunk of money that should have been in your bank account a couple of weeks ago.
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Bye for now!