A Day in the Life of a Freelancer Sheltering in Place
Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed… *
That time is a construct and it doesn’t matter during a pandemic.
I’ve been working from home and for myself since May of 2012, so my average workday is already socially distanced. I was chatting with my mom and sister the other day and mentioned that I don’t often “get ready” until around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I did that before the pandemic and I still do it now. Unless my physical presence is required, in person or on a video conference, I don’t need to change from my pajamas while I’m working.
What does a day in the life look like for me since we started physical distancing? I’d love to show you.
I have been grateful for the last 8 years that I don’t need an alarm on most days. I can wake up naturally the way my body wants to. I’m a morning person, though, so I go to bed almost every night around 10 pm and I’m up sometime between 6 and 7 in the morning, often depending on the season. This works very well for me.
The best advice I can give to someone who wants to freelance is to work with your body’s natural schedule. Don’t try to force yourself to be a morning person if you’re not and if your work isn’t dependent on a schedule.
Without a commute any more, my slow roll into my workday starts with making breakfast. What I eat changes with my mood, but I always make a cup of tea. I need some chai to get my day started.
I’ve also started a new habit during this time of self-isolation. Several friends made a pact to do this as well. Instead of leaving dishes in the sink all day I now empty the dishwasher when my tea is steeping. Now I just have to remember to turn it on at night when I go to bed. It also solves a minor problem with my feline office manager climbing in the sink.
Once I have my tea and my breakfast, I can sit down at the computer and get started. I admit, I generally start my day by checking email and Facebook before I dig into my actual To-Do list, but that’s okay. I take regular social media breaks throughout the day as well. I find that focusing on any one project for too long actually makes me less productive, so I’d rather take projects in small chunks.
I will also give myself personal deadlines beyond the official deadlines for my clients. That way, I can spend specific time on any given task and not burnout. If I become frustrated with a project, I can always walk away and come back to it.
My daily schedule is driven entirely by my desk calendar. When I first started working for myself, I used a spiral-bound notebook. I would open a fresh page every Monday and write the days of the week in two columns. I would add all of the tasks that needed to be done every day so I could cross them off when completed. And I could leave room for new tasks that would come up.
A few years ago I discovered the Get It Together with Sarah’s Scribbles planner. I love Sarah Andersen’s art and the format of the planner was close to my system but even better. It has separate sections for appointments, tasks, and social engagements. The social column of my week looks a little empty lately.
Sometime after 11, I break for lunch. Since my partner and I are both at home during the day (even before the pandemic), we make and each lunch together.
I love working from home so much more than working in an office partially because of lunch. I never knew what I wanted and hated pre-making meals. Now, I can cook anything we have in the house and don’t get as bored or frustrated. When our food is ready, we sit down and watch a half-hour TV show while we eat. It’s a nice break.
Finish my Workday
After lunch, I go back to my desk and evaluate what I still need to accomplish. My concentration isn’t as great in the afternoon, but I put my head down and finish everything on the list. Once I do, I have the satisfaction of crossing it off and calling it a day.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t need to add getting ready in the morning to my day. For the most part, I don’t come face-to-face with anyone, so I can work in my PJs with my hair thrown up in a ponytail all day. I typically won’t shower and dress until I’m done with my work. The only exception before was an in-person meeting. In the age of COVID-19, getting ready early is reserved for Zoom calls.
To paraphrase the Chinese proverb:
“Before quarantine, chop wood, carry water. After quarantine, chop wood, carry water.”
My life isn’t very different right now, an experience for which I’m grateful. I know not everyone can have the same experience. I hope for those of you not used to working at home, some of my ideas can help you organize your workday from home.
Do you want to tell your story on your blog? A day in the life can help give people an insight into what you do. Email me today to learn more.
*A Day in the Life by The Beatles (Thanks, Sir Paul McCartney)