Freelancer 'Day in the Life'

Freelancer 'Day in the Life'
Molly Bolding walks through a 'day in the life' as a WFH freelancer.
One of the very best things about being a freelancer is the control of your schedule: with no commute, no office, and no manager, I can make each day suit my changing needs. Sometimes, I’ll work late into the evening on a Saturday; other times, I’ll take a whole Wednesday off for a personal day.
To quote Sian Meades-Williams, author of The Pyjama Myth, “Sometimes I get very little writing done but I’ve finally put some laundry on, been to the bank, returned that dress that was a little odd around the shoulders, and called my parents. One of the greatest things about working from home is the freedom to create your own schedule.”
However, one of the things I struggled with when I started freelancing was precisely this - no expectations on when or how I will work left me feeling unsatisfied no matter how much I got done. Because every freelancer’s situation is different, it’s really hard to get a good idea of what’s ‘normal’ or reasonable for your day-to-day schedule.
I used to worry that I was spending too much time at my computer, or that I was spreading my work over too many hours. In reality, finding a routine that works for you is a matter of trial and error as much as planning, so testing out different work patterns and hours is useful. I also did a bit of research and bought a planner and desk pad, so I could write out some concrete goals for each day and week.
With all that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to lay out an average day in my freelance life, for anyone who’s curious.

7:10am: My partner works in Finance, so the alarm goes off early and he gets up for work. Because he’s lovely, he usually brings me a cup of coffee in bed and I inevitably wake up in time for it to have gone slightly cold. I read a chapter in my library book (currently ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’, by Robert Tressell) while I sip.

8:00am: I get up, get dressed and ready, sort out my face, and put on my watch. I haven’t worn one for years, but I’ve been trying to spend less time on my phone and this simple change is really helping. I don’t know about you, but too often I was picking up my phone ostensibly to check the time and somehow ending up on Instagram...

8:30am: Breakfast is usually something quick and sugary - I really like those chocolate chip brioche rolls, or a croissant as a treat. At this point, I check my schedule for the day and see when my first meetings are. I usually prefer to book in meetings immediately before and after lunch, and most of my tutoring takes place in the late afternoons or after school finishes.

10:00am: By this point in the morning, I’m usually at my computer with fresh coffee in hand, having trawled through a frankly astonishing number of emails that have somehow accumulated in my inbox overnight. I also use this time to check my social media and respond to comments, so it’s out of the way and I won’t be tempted to scroll for hours later in the day. I'll also try and get some copy written for my latest article because the ideas are usually fresh in my head from the day before.

12:30pm: I usually have a light lunch - I’m really into lentils and salads with sweet potato at the moment - because if I eat a lot I’ll be very sleepy in the afternoon. We eat in the conservatory, to get a little Vitamin D away from our respective desks.

2:00pm: A lot of my work is either conducting interviews, delivering lessons, or writing about either of those activities, so I spend a lot of my day staring at a screen or staving off hand cramp.

3:00pm: Anyone else find themselves taking a kind of ‘afternoon tea’ break in the mid-afternoon? I always have to step away from the screen and do something else with a cup of coffee and a biscuit, if I want to get anything else reliable done before 5pm. Sometimes I’ll go for a quick walk and get a takeaway coffee instead, if I’m craving some human interaction.

5:00pm: My partner usually finishes around 5, so I’ll finish somewhere between 5 and 6, depending on what I’m working on. I like to wrap up the day with yet more coffee and find out what my partner got up to that day.

7:00pm: Tea time! I love to cook, so we have a rolling schedule for meals so I know what I’m making. We always watch an episode of something with a meal - at the moment we’re working through this great Dropout series, ‘Um, Actually’ (it’s like Jeopardy for nerds).

9:00pm: After tea, there’s some downtime where I’ll read, watch some YouTube videos, do some sewing, or play a game with my partner. I always have more coffee after tea because milky drinks are supposed to be good for getting you in the mood to sleep. If you hadn’t already guessed by now, I only drink decaf because I like the taste but not the jitters - caffeine plays havoc with my anxiety!

10:30pm: I used to go to bed really late, because I would inevitably have a brainwave just before sleep and have to get up and write it down before I forgot. Then I realised that that was making it harder and harder to get up at a sensible time in the morning, so I moved my sleep schedule around a bit and bought a funky alarm clock. I also have a reminder for my skincare routine, because I’m so rubbish at remembering to put on moisturiser before bed.

11:00pm: With any luck, I’m asleep by now - counting imaginary emails as they arrive in my inbox, ready for tomorrow.

What’s your freelancer routine like?