I started writing this a while ago but got distracted by work projects, but everything I say here still stands. I have found my working hours have changed so during the summer I work from around 5:30 AM and during the winter it is more like 8AM. I still wake up early I just like more of a lie in.
Working from home still, and for the foreseeable future, in part one I talked a bit about some of the tools I use to stay sane and productive, I will do the same here. I am an early bird when it comes to working so am fairly productive from 7 AM to around 3 PM (although I still work beyond this just on lighter tasks).
Start of the Day
The start of the day for me will often involve filling a water bottle (not a tea of coffee drinker) and starting up the laptop, checking and responding to email and writing a ToDo-List while listening to Radio 4 so I get my fill of the news before really focusing on client activities and HugeHug tasks.
Part of my ToDo-List will be to check that I have all the projects (including my own) set up on Toggl Track which I use to track all tasks for myself and clients. I find this tool particularly useful I even track dog walking and procrastination on it, just so I am aware of where my time went. Plus, I really like its reporting feature where you can print off a report for the entire project. I currently use the free version of the tool, I suspect that when things become more stable this is one I will end up pay for because I like it so much.
I try to remember that breakfast is important, but sometimes it is forgotten today I am having a Yoghurt pot and some raspberries, which feels almost organised. Radio 4 has just told me that I am going to be replaced by AI soon, an interesting thing to contemplate over breakfast. On Sunday’s I treat myself to bacon, beans, mushrooms, sausages (low fat) and often grilled tomatoes, it is a treat for the end of the week, plus it means I skip lunch.
Around 9 Am I switch from Radio 4 to music, white noise or sometimes silence. Music for me revolves around listening to old favourites or something wordless mostly because when I am writing policy I can’t really cope with new words being sung at me. I rely heavily on playlists created on Spotify I warn you now I have a huge mixture of tastes in music that include Eurovision tracks through to Classical and even the odd Sea Shanty here and there.
I should point out here that some of the above mentioned procrastination time is clearly spent in building new playlists or adding to playlists.
I would say that around 60% of the work I am taking on at the moment is based around writing policy for my clients, although I started out doing this when I graduated from Coventry University, this work has really taken off since going freelance in June 2019. Who knew that mu love of making documentation accessible would come in so helpful now.
Back in my university days, I was using Microsoft Word, RoboHelp or CSS/HTML to write policy, which always felt a bit chunky and over complicated. My final year project was to rewrite Birmingham Heartlands Hospital’s Major Incident Document with the very talented Fay Kelman I look at the tools we used then and really wish we had what I have now.
I use Markdown now. Markdown is a lightweight markup language for creating formatted text using a plain-text editor, it was created in 2004. The editor I use is Atom, I find it simple to use and I really love its projects section and the community support for it is amazing. Atom was introduced to me by a previous work colleague at a digital marketing firm, and I have not looked back since I started using it.
Finding a text editor that makes you happy is harder than you expect when you are a freelancer, like many people I started using Windows Notepad which is still available today for you PC users. I was using Windows 3.1 at the time, I liked having a simple text editor with no thrills, but times have moved on and also the ability to add onto Atom has made me happy. The two addons I use most are Markdown-Writer and Markdown-Preview-Enhanced.
Find myself humming along to Voulez-Vous by ABBA at this point, moving on.
Daily Walk and Audible
I go out for a walk every lunchtime. I say every lunchtime but to be honest sometimes it get postponed until the afternoon if I am distracted by the task I have undertaken. I love walking and listening to books, I have a fair number of audio books from the days before Audible as I enjoyed being given books on tape and cd. But these days Audible if part of my daily life, I have just hit my 147th book and I listen to between three and six a month. I love to listen to stories, I think this stems from being read out loud to as a child. Also my grandmother who was a true storyteller, she wrote but also knew many stories by heart including all of the greek myths.
When things calm down (Covid) maybe I will join one of those monthly book clubs.
I think people need time when working from home to remember it is not always about working all the time, we need some distractions at work, or even water cooler moments where you allow time to have a chat with a colleague.
As a freelancer these moments are less easy to achieve which is why it is important to find like minded people to hang out with from time to time. Almost every Friday during lockdown I have been lucky enough to join the Freelance Folk lot for an afternoon of work/chat on zoom. This continues to be my water cooler moment every week, and I am very thankful for it.