Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A day in the life of a freelancer

I read with some amusement the Guardian's Secret Office Worker column when it gets published. I rather enjoyed this darkly funny portrait by five office workers - a Project Manager, a charity worker, a PR writer, a magazine editor, and a tech director - of their days at work.

It's been quite a while since I did A Day in the Life, so I thought, now that I am established back in my contracting / freelancing life, it would be a good time to have a look at it. Here is my day yesterday, at a time when I have three projects for three different clients (A, B and C) in progress.

7am       Get up, get children up.
              Do the whole breakfast / school lunch / finding clothing / hair & tooth brushing dance.

8am       Husband and eldest leave house for school and work. Time to chivvy younger two along.

8:35am  Take youngest to primary school. Middle child rides her bike and meets us there.

8:45am  Home. Kettle on, set load of washing going while computer boots.

9am       Drink morning cuppa while reading & responding to work email / flicking over online news.

9:30am   Commence work on project plan for Project B. Spend time gathering data and formulating
               the always-tricky purpose statements.

11:30am  Phone meeting with Client B to discuss scope questions with their project.

12pm       Lunch break - hang wet washing, do dishes, and eat.

12:30pm  Back to the project plan - two more sections completed and two follow-up emails sent.

2pm         New content to review arrives for Project A. Read through it and formulate / send email
                questions for clarification on several points.

3pm         Go to collect younger children from school. Once home, facilitate snacking needs.

4pm          Off to the doctors with all three kids (two of whom need medical attention).

5pm          Home from doctors. Swing directly into making dinner.

6pm          Dinner done. Kids read / watch TV while I spend an hour on reviewing the first third of
                 the material for Project A.

7pm          Swing into showering / bedtime stories / bedtime routines.
                 While this is occurring, wash dishes.

8:30pm     Another hour on the Project A document review.

9:30pm     Computer off; to bed to read and fall asleep.

My days, of which this is fairly typical, tend to be an ebb and flow of work and family duties. I usually do between 6 and 9 hours work on any given day (yesterday it was 7 hours, which is well within my norm), but a relatively small percentage of this is meetings, which is very good, and I rarely do paid work between school pick-up and dinner, which is taken up with family matters.

I don't work all my hours within the standard work day, and I don't work extreme chunks of time - a two-hour block is usually the maximum I'll do without interspersion of some other activity, which suits me (I find I am really losing focus by the 2-hour mark anyway).

Some days are more crowded than others, but what I tend not to have is much truly "dead" time - if I have hit a wall with one project or client, I switch over to another or to a household or writing activity, because there is no value in simply warming a seat while I wait for things to ungum or answers to arrive.

Freelancing from my home suits me much better than being in an office. I know now that it does. Assuming I can keep getting a reasonable flow of work, I think this is what I'll be doing for the medium- to long-term.

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