KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do Freelance Editorial Professionals Keep 9-to-5 Schedules?

One of the big attractions of self-employment is the ability to set your own work hours. The variety of schedules that freelance editorial pros keep is quite large, as shown by a discussion this week on the Copyediting-L e-mail list. What freelancers' schedules look like depends on their workload; their clients' needs; their circadian rhythms; whether they must accommodate the needs of life partners, children, aging parents, and/or pets; and the activities they're involved in outside of work.

I'm sharing my general schedule here in hopes of helping other freelancers see the possibilities and inspiring them to share their schedules in the comments section.

Several factors affect my schedule because they require my attention:

  • I'm married.
  • I have a 9-year-old son and a 16-year-old son.
  • I have an adult daughter who visits us, with her husband and my 4-year-old granddaughter, on some weekends.
  • My husband, a cabinetmaker, is self-employed like me. Periodically, I take time away from my work to help him with his project estimates, because I'm better at estimating time than he is, and to write up his estimates and help him with customer e-mails, because effective writing is one of my skills rather than one of his.
  • My in-laws live in the downstairs apartment within my home.
  • There are 2 dogs and 1 cat in my home.

So here's my approximate weekday schedule:

  • ~7:30–10 a.m.: Eat breakfast in my office, while I alternate between helping my husband get the boys out the front door (if it's during the school year) and doing workday-startup tasks:
    • Read and respond to e-mails.
    • Do my Facebook rounds for the following people or groups: the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences ([BELS] I'm one of the page administrators), the Council of Science Editors ([CSE] I'm one of the admins), members of my extended family, me, and friends and colleagues.
    • Do my Twitter rounds for accounts held by the following: BELS (I'm on its Twitter team), CSE (I'm on its Twitter team), KOK Edit.
    • Create proposals and invoices for projects as necessary.
    • Review my calendar items for the day.

  • ~10 a.m.: Shower.
  • ~11 a.m.: Start editing the first project of the day.
  • ~12:30 p.m.: Eat lunch.
  • ~1 p.m.: Get back to work.
  • ~7 p.m.: Knock off work and eat dinner, unless I'm facing a dire deadline. If it's a deadline night, stop for dinner and then go back to work till ~10:30 p.m.
  • ~Throughout the day:
    • Answer client e-mails and e-mails from colleagues and mentees; spot-check profession-related e-mail lists; spot-check Facebook walls for BELS, CSE, and me; spot-check Twitter for BELS, CSE, and KOK Edit.
    • Write up project estimates for my husband's cabinetmaking business when necessary and edit his e-mails to clients.
    • Brew multiple cups of tea.
    • Pet and/or play with my dog.
    • Take breaks with my husband and my kids or go flop on the hammock under the giant old maple tree in my backyard (in warm weather).
    • Make sure that my sons are on track for chores, for music practice (for the one who plays the cello), and for homework if it's during the school year.
I often do some work on weekends, but I don't get up for the day until about 9 or 10 a.m. I don't usually post anything to Facebook or Twitter on weekends, and I much do more hanging out with family members than on weekdays.

Even with a work schedule that spreads widely across the day, I answer e-mails and phone calls from U.S. clients only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, to help me separate my work life from my home life. But I do make some exceptions for my authors in other nations; I sometimes answer their e-mails in the evening or early morning because of the time-zone difference.

So, colleagues, what's your schedule like, given your lifestyle and personal and work needs?

Template created by Makeworthy Media