The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Friday, February 07, 2020

A Day in the Life ...

We all love a sneak peek into other people's everyday lives, so inspired by posts from Katherine Bilsborough and Atena Juszko, here's a day in my working life … yesterday, 6 Feb, 2020.

My alarm goes off at 8 every day, but I'm always slow to get going in the morning so it's advisory rather than required and I often switch it off and turn over. This morning, I actually get up pretty much straight away. I go downstairs for breakfast, watch a bit of TV news and chat to my partner.

Back upstairs in my office, I fire up my desktop, get dressed (no, I don't work in my PJs!) and make a second cup of tea before I sit down at my desk. As a slow starter, I typically spend the first hour at my desk easing myself into the day. I check social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and sometimes Instagram) for both personal and work-related stuff. I'm a member of a Facebook photography group to which I post a photo every day around the day's theme – today's 'frozen' and I find a photo I took of a rose covered in frost. I also check on a Twitter thread I've been involved in. It started with a question from a teacher about teaching phrasal verbs that got linked to a sample unit of a book I worked on, ETpedia Vocabulary. I notice one of my co-authors, Fiona Mauchline, has picked up on a tweet I tagged her in yesterday and joined in the discussion. This is one of the sides of social media I really enjoy. Other general admin today includes checking and replying to a few emails and adding an expense that's come through to my book-keeping spreadsheet.

My workspace ... no tidying for the photo!
Tea 3 and I'm ready to start on some actual work. At the moment, I'm reviewing some teaching materials that contain several elements: text documents, slides and videos. I spend an hour working my way through a whole 'module' of the materials to get a feel for how it all flows and fits together, pausing over bits I'm not sure about, coming up with things I might comment on, but not actually writing anything down yet. I want to see the whole module before I formulate my feedback.

It's a stunningly bright, crisp day outside my office windows. I'd planned to go out for a walk mid-afternoon, but I'm worried that the sun might not last, so when I get to the end of the module, I decide on a pre-lunch walk instead. Although I'm no longer sticking to the daily walking routine I had to complete my 1000-mile walking challenge last year, I still like to get out most days, especially when the weather's good. Today I do a route of just under 4 miles – that when I get back looks to me a bit like a rhino's head! – which crosses Bristol harbour, goes up through some 'secret' woods, back across the Clifton Suspension Bridge and down through Clifton village, stopping off for a few bits at the supermarket on the way. I get home feeling refreshed and hopeful that spring might not be so far off after all.

#StetWalk: Can you see a rhino's head?!

In the woods - in my green woolly hat (esp. for Kath!)

Home for lunch. There's half an avocado in the fridge to use up, so it's a classic avocado on toast with a poached egg in front of the lunchtime news.

Back at my desk and I spend the afternoon writing up my feedback on the materials I was looking at this morning. I have a couple of short breaks for more tea and while the kettle's boiling nip into the garden to refill the bird feeders that I notice are empty.

I finish work on the module I was reviewing and spend the last hour at my desk on a bit more admin. Today I'm trying to sort out personal indemnity insurance because one of my contracts requires it. I find a reasonable quote and message a fellow freelancer who I know's been looking at the same thing to see how it matches up with what she's found. She replies straight away and we have a bit of a chat. Having a network of freelance pals is a really important part of my working life – without them, it could get really lonely.

I need to ring my mum after missing a call from her yesterday and early evening's a good time, so I shut down my computer and log off for the day.

The day works out at 4.5 billed-for hours plus admin time which is about average for me. Over 20 years of freelancing while managing a chronic health condition, I've found that's a manageable amount of hours. My health's actually much better at the moment, but I'm not rushing to overdo it and risk a set-back. I'm happy to tick along with what feels like a healthy balance.

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