Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize when everything feels important on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.
Who: Mel M.
What: Full-time freelance writer
Where: New York, New York
The alarm on my partner’s goes off (a little too loudly for my liking) and rings for about a minute before either of us makes an effort to turn it off. I’m happy to be woken up this way, though. Since I quit my job and started full-time freelancing about five months ago, probably the toughest adjustment I’ve had to make is forcing myself to keep “regular” working hours (when I know I really could sleep in a bit if I wanted). The fact my partner has to be out the door for work by 8 a.m. definitely helps keep me on track.
Protein bars in hand, we head out the door together and walk to the gym, which is luckily just a few blocks from our apartment in downtown Brooklyn. I exercise in the morning — whether at the gym, by going on a run, or hitting a yoga class — at least four times a week, sometimes five. Now that I’m completely in charge of mapping out my own time, starting my days with a quick workout has been crucial in keeping me energized and motivated for everything that comes after!
I hop off the treadmill and give my partner a (kinda sweaty, sorry!) kiss before leaving the gym. He’ll shower here before heading to his office in Manhattan. I’m heading back home to shower (with all my own products and towel, waaaay preferable).
I’ve showered, brewed coffee in the French press, and cut myself up a grapefruit. It’s time to fire up the laptop and get to work.
When I first started freelancing full-time, I used to always work from coffee shops — and realized I was spending way too much money as a result. When you’re at an office that has its own coffee machine and snacks, those are little would-be expenditures that you can kind of take for granted. Working at a coffee shop that doesn’t have those free amenities, you wind up spending way more. So now I work from home three days a week (which often becomes four…) and work from coffee shops just two days — I’d go totally stir-crazy if I didn’t allow myself at least a little scenery change. Today, I’m working from home!
Spent the past 30 minutes catching up on Twitter and the day’s news to see if there’s anything timely I can pitch out. I have good relationships with editors at a few different sites, which is one of the reasons quitting my job felt less risky than it would have otherwise. If I get them a timely pitch early enough in the day, I’ll usually get at least one bite. Today, I see that Vogue just released a new cover story about Kim Kardashian — and that she announces she’s studying to become a lawyer in it. Score!
I’m back on Twitter, scrolling, when I hear back from one of the editors who wants something on Kim Kardashian ASAP. Time to switch gears!
I hit send on the Kim story and get up to make myself more coffee. Not every day involves knocking out a story this early, and the pay for something quick like this isn’t huge — but it does feel good to already have a win under my belt!
There doesn’t seem much else in the celebrity circuit (which is what I’m often writing about — entertainment news) happening this morning. Oh well. Time to dive into a longer-form assignment on my plate; my deadline isn’t until next week but I’m still in need of a few sources. I spend the next hour and a half transcribing a couple phone interviews I’ve already recorded and putting out various social media call-outs for more sources.
Putting out social media call-outs for more sources definitely turned into mindless scrolling… whoops. My form of work is completely dependent on the internet, but it can be hard to avoid getting sucked in sometimes, especially when no one else is mapping out my time for me. Closing out of Instagram, I decide that now’s a good time to get lunch. There’s a taco place down the street I like. Since I haven’t yet spent anything today, I figure I can justify an $11 lunch (and I can definitely use the fresh air).
I’m out and about to get food when my partner shoots me a text asking if I can please knock out an errand for him. For the most part, he’s been good about not asking too many favors of me during the work day. It’s a thin line, and I’m still figuring out how to balance along it. On the one hand, just because I’m not at an office doesn’t mean I’m not working. On the other, it’s true that I have more way freedom and flexibility to knock out important home maintenance things than he does. I respond that sure, I’ll do it.
How did it become almost 2 p.m.?! I’m back home from my errand and log back into email. Perfect timing — I just got an ask from an editor asking if I’m available to quickly write something up on the rumors that Taylor Swift is dropping new music soon. I sure am!
Second news hit of the day done, and just in time — I have a phone interview with a source for next week’s long-form piece starting in five minutes!
My phone interview is done — it was only supposed to last 30 minutes but she was a talker and we wound up going over. I need to get better at firmly telling people I have a hard stopping time! I really should go ahead and knock out the transcription for this now, while the interview is still fresh in my mind, but I decide it can wait. I have a package to put in the mail that I totally forgot about, and if I get started on the transcription now I might miss post office hours!
Back from the post office — where did the day go?! I have two assignments (both pretty short, 500 words) due by the end of day tomorrow for a site I regularly work with. Better to just go ahead and knock those out now.
Assignments are done! I do more quick social media sweep to make sure there isn’t any major news I’m missing, then switch gears to ideating long-form pitches for the next hour. I build an hour of ideating time every day that I work; since it isn’t time spent “producing” anything quantifiable, it’s easy for this to fall by the wayside. But carving out time for this is so essential to what I do!
My partner gets home! I’m happy to see him specifically, but also happy to have the company of another human again. Working from home can be hard. We start to make dinner and talk about our days. He also brought me flowers as a thank you for the favor earlier, which is super sweet. As a house rule, there are absolutely no screens involved in our dinner time. We cook, eat, chat, and clean up.
The “Game of Thrones” Season 8 premiere is happening this Sunday, and one of the show creators released a list of prior episodes that fans should re-watch before the premiere. We’re determined to knock out three of those episodes tonight. As a major fan of the show, this is fun for me — but also, it’s work. I will guaranteed be pitching stories about the premiere on Sunday and probably all next week, and it’s been so long since Season 7 at this point that I need a refresher. This is a big part of what entertainment writing entails; what you enjoy is also work, which has its pros and cons.
We only made it through two episodes — neither of us can keep our eyes open! Time to hit the hay and do it all over again tomorrow.