06 March 2008

A day in the life

Dougalfish wrote a great post last week on her typical working day. I'm quite often asked "but what do you do all day?". It's hard to answer as no 2 days are ever the same (well, not unless I'm editing some mind-numbingly dull book on insurance risk management for 2 solid weeks) but I suppose yesterday was a fairly average day in most respects.

6.00 - switch the alarm off. Lie there for 2 minutes thinking I really want to go back to sleep for another 3 hours. Instead, I drag my sorry carcass to the bathroom to clean my teeth and have a hot shower. The steam wakes me up a little. A quick towel down and I dress in gym kit - yoga pants, t-shirt and trainers. It's chilly so I add a fleece then spend 10 minutes putting some make-up on (mascara and brow pencil if you're wondering) and beating my hair into submission.

6.45 - the cat is by now going crazy trying to get my attention because quite clearly I am at fault for being up a whole 45 minutes without feeding him. Downstairs, I feed the cats (there are actually 2) and make a pint of hot water with lemon slices. I empty the dishwasher while the kettle comes to the boil.

7.00 - sit at the PC. A s I sip my hot water, I take a quick look at any emails that came in overnight - one from a US client asking if I have any stories for her (no, I don't. I'd tell her if I did), several mails from a journo listserv I belong to (I delete these as I'm not interested in the topic being debated) and one from a colleague about organising a drinks do for freelances in our neck of the woods. Then I surf the net for half an hour - Facebook, the Journobiz forums, the BBC headlines. I'll read the rest of the news later.

7.45 - my trainer is at the door. Time to work out. For the next hour or so, this evil sadist (just kidding, he's very sweet really) has me lifting weights, doing squats and using a Swiss ball to tone up. The trainer comes 3 mornings a week and I go to the gym in between. Sitting at a PC all day is a good recipe for turning into a lardarse. The workouts are supposed to keep that in check.

9.00 - the trainer's gone so I have another quick shower and dress in jeans, a long green jumper and my trainers. I put coffee on to brew then rummage in the fridge for breakfast. I ought to be making juice, but I can't be bothered today so I grab a banana and make two slices of toast. I'll be alone for the rest of the day as the cleaner's not due for another couple of days.

9.30 - back at the PC. I read the Guardian and the Sun for more news. A broadsheet and a tabloid so I get both takes on what's happening out there. I rarely have time to read other papers, but if a major story breaks (such as the 7/7 bombings) I'll turn on News 24 and surf other news sites as well. Then I log in to Bloglines to read the blogs I subscribe to and some news feeds.

10.00 - time to log in to Googlemail and trawl through the press releases. I do this 2-3 times a day. Mostly, it's delete, delete, delete but today something catches my eye about a new website that could prove to be of use professionally. I immediately go and have a look and decide to register. It takes less than 10 minutes for me to realise this was a big mistake as the site has privacy issues. I decide to pitch a story about this to one of the papers I write for - it takes me about 10 minutes to draft the pitch then whizz it over the ether in an email.

10.30 - I start drafting a press release for a local businesswoman. I'm doing this as a freebie as she runs a virtual PA company and will give me some free hours in return, useful if I need transcription or some other service done. I find it hard to concentrate and keep sneaking 5-minute breaks on Facebook and Journobiz. The postie delivers the mail at 11-ish but there's nothing of interest today. I also take 2 phone calls, one from a freelance editor in the mood for a chat (he gets a polite brush-off as I'm too busy), the other from a client wanting a progress report.

12.00 - I've finished the first draft of the release so I mail it to my "client". Then I start my next task. Last week, I interviewed several industry spokespersons for a corporate job I'm working on. It's time to type up my notes. I hate this as it's the dullest part of the project, but essential if I'm going to produce a quality report for the client. I grit my teeth and crack on with it.

1.00 - lunch. I make a cheese sandwich and a pint mug of tea. Time to check emails again. I have an offer of editing work for a financial company - yay, right up my street. I email back to suggest a time for a phone chat on a different day. Another contact emails to say she's leaving her job and so-and-so will be handling projects in future. Time to chase as I have a number of corporate pitches sitting with this client that they haven't yet responded to. I decide I need some air so grab my coat and bag and head out the door. I nip into the bank across the street to pay in a cheque that's been sitting on my desk for 2 weeks already then I walk up to the parade to buy stamps. I'm home inside 20 minutes and chuck some washing in the machine.

2.00 - back to transcribing my notes. I need to listen to the recordings here and there as I have gaps but decide to do that tomorrow instead. I take mini-breaks to surf Facebook, Journobiz, the BBC, Bloglines and incoming mail. It's quiet today in terms of interruptions - the phone has barely rung and my email level is unusually low.

5.00 - I'm done. My notes are all typed up and I have a very clear picture in my head of how I'll be structuring the report for my client. I'll be starting that next day. I raise 3 invoices for clients - I should have done these last Friday but I was too busy. I turn 1 into a PDF and email it, then nip to the postbox with the other 2. Ideally I'd like to email all my invoices and have a paperless office but some clients still want a "proper" invoice. I also post a cheque to a colleague who bailed me out last week on a research problem and has to be paid for her time. I try not to outsource such work if I can avoid it but I was pushed for time last week and juggling too many jobs.

5.45 - I sift through the papers littering my desk. I can't bear clutter so I file what I can and divide the rest into 2 piles - "must deal with tomorrow" and "can hang around for a while in a neat corner".

6.00 - sit down with a drink. Briefly fancy a ciggie before remembering I gave up last June. I still miss them very occasionally. I feed the cats again and cook a quick dinner of steak and salad then get changed into a posher top over the jeans. I swap the trainers for heels and put on more make-up - eyeshadow, liner and lip gloss. The hair looks just about ok. A spritz of Coco Mademoiselle and some earrings are the finishing touches.

7.30 - head out the door. It's my monthly night out with a particular gang of friends. I walk to a pub in town and I'm first to arrive so I chat to the landlord, who's a pal of mine.

8.00 - my friends turn up and we proceed to make inroads into vast quantities of vodka. I end up talking shop as 3 mates want to know about a magazine I commission for, so we natter about that for a while then gossip about absent friends and holiday plans.

11.00 - I'm slightly tipsy and don't fancy walking home alone so I scrounge a lift from a friend. He drops me on the corner of my street and I wave goodnight to him. The house is in darkness when I let myself in. The vodka has left me wired so I pour a large brandy and sit at the PC while I drink it (and a top-up). I surf my favourite sites once more.

12.00 - it's midnight. Time to crash. As I flip the bedside light off I realise I'm still wearing my make-up but can't be bothered to get up again. Within seconds I'm fast asleep.


Anne Brooke said...

I'm so impressed with the trainer thing! You make me feel quite ashamed and very unproductive indeed - especially today when I have been a committed blob!



Unknown said...

But you dance and play golf and run around the uni several days a week (not literally), whereas I just sit here stuck to the chair. You are bound to be fitter than me!

Anne Brooke said...

Ah, but I spent 2 days collapsed in exhaustion post-dance, and golf is quite leisurely!