What my day looks like
And a special agony aunt event
Earlier this month FFJ co-founder Emma Wilkinson shared a snapshot of one of her days. It was a particularly productive day, she has since admitted, but it was a good example of what can be achieved in a short space of time.
In this week’s newsletter I also share what my day looks like. This is not a typical day as there is no typical day for me. I have no set time slot for answering emails or routine for when I write and no precise time for setting my morning alarm. Instead it is a lovely higgedly piggedly hotchpotch of organised chaos which varies day to day.
I love the variety each day brings and this unsystematic system seems to work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am an extremely organised person, but I work best when I go with the flow and take a flexible approach each day. It’s probably why I hate working shifts and why I could never have a staff job again. Routine kills my soul.
So here my typical / atypical working day:
Get up early because I am awake and I’m aware that there is a lot on my to do list today. I get dressed, grab a cup of tea and do a bit of admin on my phone (check/delete/send emails, send a few WhatsApp messages) before turning on my PC.
The kids are not up yet so I decide this is the perfect quiet time to write this newsletter. Once they rise I leave my desk and get some breakfast with them whilst doing Wordle. I also chuck a load of vegetables and chickpeas in the slow cooker with curry paste so I don’t have to worry about dinner tonight.
This bit is always the same and often the part of the day I hate the most. It’s school run time. I nag the kids to brush their teeth, put on their socks and try to get them and the dog out the door on time. We are pretty much always late.
Kids dropped off, time to relax. Most days I take the dog for a walk at this time. Sometimes it’s a quick 20 minutes to the field to chase around with a mad lurcher but sometimes it’s a 60 to 90 minute walk along the canal or a 10k run together. I keep an eye on emails and messages whilst out on this walk and sometimes listen to money podcasts to give me story ideas. Today is very hot so we do a 60 minute walk along the shady tow path.
I have Zoom tutorials with university students to give feedback on their podcasts. This is timetabled for two hours but one group doesn’t show up so it gives me time to find a case study and set up an interview for a Metro money feature I have to write tomorrow. I also keep checking and answering emails.
I interview another case study for the same feature, on the telephone, taking shorthand notes in my notebook. I then write a quick press release and find a photo for my local triathlon club. I’m their voluntary press officer and over the summer send race reports to the local newspaper. During all this I grab a quick sandwich and eat it at my desk.
I go and run a one hour running group. My side hustle is that I’m a running coach. I coach two groups on a Tuesday evening and one on a Wednesday lunchtime (today). These are always at the same time so at least three hours of my week are a set routine whether I like it or not (I do, because I’m always happy to be out running).
I dash back to record a FFJ podcast. We have just started recording Series 8 which is a special summer reads series where we interview freelance journalists who have written books. We have a fascinating chat with an author even though I’m still in my sweaty running gear.
I prepare for an interview with a sports scientist in America at 3.30pm. I quickly read through his research papers before we have a Zoom chat. I’m writing about yoga for runners for Runner’s World website and I need some impartial, science-backed input.
I interview a second case study for the aforementioned Metro feature. I already have an exclusive set of data to go with the story and some generic quotes on email so tomorrow morning I will put it all together with the case study interviews for the double page spread article. After the interview I grab the dog and take him to the park for a run around before picking the kids up from afterschool club at 5pm. Some days this will be me done for the day and other days I’ll need to send a few more emails when we get home or do some FFJ promotion or financial stuff.
My eldest son has an online tutorial so whilst he is doing that I squeeze in another telephone interview. This is the third case study for Metro piece. Fortunately the first one which I found earlier has agreed to to speak to me first thing tomorrow so I now have all three sorted.
Time to give the kids a top-up tea as after school club doesn’t feed them enough, make sure they do their reading and music practice and put the youngest to bed. My husband goes climbing on a Wednesday evening so it’s my turn to be on single parenting duties. Tuesday night is his turn when I’m out running for two hours.
I very rarely work beyond 6pm but today is different because my interviewee is a teacher and only available in the evening. I do a telephone interview with a former elite athlete about how she incorporates yoga into her training.
By this time I am finally done and all I need to do is boil some rice and have my curry (and grab a shower!). My husband is still out and my oldest son now puts himself to bed so I can sit down with dinner and catch up on Stranger Things. At this point I put my phone away to charge in the kitchen so I can switch off properly. It will remain there until tomorrow morning.
This is quite a hectic day but I don’t mind because on Friday I will go for a long run, pop into town to do some holiday clothes shopping and just do some bits of work like writing a podcast script and recording another episode. It’s all swings and roundabouts which is just the way I like it.
What’s coming up
We are taking part in a Women in Journalism Agony Aunt session for freelancers with the brilliant Donna Ferguson and Heidi Spalding on July 4, 6pm. It will be an hour long Q&A where you will have the opportunity to get live feedback on freelance dilemmas. Come along and ask us about thorny subjects like getting paid, dealing with tricky editors and selling the same subject more than once.
Tickets are £7.50 for members of Women in Journalism and £15 for non-members.
Don’t forget we’d love to hear your feedback on this newsletter. What can we improve and what other features would you like to see? Complete this quick survey and be in with the chance of winning our complete set of freelancing guides.
Triumph of the week
It has to be coming 2nd and 3rd female in a 100km ultra running event at the weekend! We even managed to get some FFJ business done whilst running.
That feeling when
You’ve taken off a long weekend and your brain is foggy but you have a very busy week ahead.
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Bye for now!