From the beginning of lockdown to now, my working at home routine feels like it’s changed pretty drastically. From simply waking up and plodding towards my computer, to introducing some wellbeing exercises and activities into my day, the way I view the working day is different now, it’s better. With new clients come new ways of working, and with lockdown rules being stricter than ever, it’s a necessity to find small pockets of peace and happiness in our everyday routines.
So I wanted to share my day in the life with you, to hopefully inspire other freelancers out there to encourage some wellness into their work and to remind other working-from-home patrons that their days can still be fun, even out of the office.
7:00am – 2.5k run
Yes, it’s true. I’ve become a runner. As painful as it is to admit, running has honestly become one of my favourite parts of the week. Following the Couch to 5k programme and listening to Sarah Millican’s soothing tones every other morning is something I genuinely look forward to, and starting the day having accomplished something significant is a really refreshing change from my old routine. With my mental health having taken a big hit over the past couple of months, I finally accepted it was time to try something different and although I’m still not quite finding my feet (both literally and metaphorically), it’s been a positive change that I really do enjoy. We run to our local park and back, just dodging the school run traffic and bumping into several other runners on our route, before grabbing a shower and getting dressed.
8:30am – Coffee and Emails
Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00, I’ll settle in at my desk for the day. My boyfriend typically makes the first coffees of the day (caffeine-free for me…another painful change in order to appease my mental health), and I’ll work out my to do list for the day. Monday’s still remain my busiest day, as I have to create and compost social reports from the week previously and come up with new ideas for social campaigns and blog posts for the following week. This can involve spending a good 40 minutes in front of my calculator, trying to work out Impression averages and Like counts before I can finally draft and send off my reports.
This is also the time where I’ll do any mental health work I need to – so filling out CBT sheets, writing in my journal, updating my habit tracker for the day. For some reason my anxiety tends to peak first thing in the morning and later on in the evening, so it’s easier to face the day with my MH homework already done.
10:00am – Campaign Planning
With the second coffee of the day already in my sights and my social ideas approved, I’ll open up my Trello board and start sketching out the posts for the week. This is a few hours of image sourcing, product referencing, a little graphic design and caption writing. I like to start out by organising the images first, building up a visual plan before I add in the content – this helps me to understand how certain posts will look on a feed, so I can get a better idea of what to include in the caption. This process can also involve a little research, finding out about certain topics, products and processes to make sure the business is accurately represented. Currently, I create social plans for three clients on Monday so this can take up most of the day, and I’ll typically work on these for around two and a half hours before lunch.
12:30pm – Lunch Break
Where possible, I like to take the full hour for lunch. Not only do my eyes need the screen break, but my mind does too. I’ll usually pop to Sainsbury’s with my boyfriend to pick up some food, or I’ll grab something from the kitchen and head out onto the balcony to check in on my Animal Crossing island. Taking that physical time away from my computer is often a welcome respite from work, and it’s also my time to catch up with Elliot and see how his day has been. Although we work in the same room, we can spend hours deep in focus without talking, with our headphones on and our eyes glued to the screen. It’s good to be able to have that shared time to check in and talk, before returning to our desks.
If I’m having a particularly stressful day, I’ll take myself out for a ten minute walk. I’ll find a podcast episode I haven’t heard before and just stroll around the streets, trying to soak up as much of the outside world as possible before heading home. On those days, my flat can feel more like a prison than a home, and I can feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of hours spent inside it with nothing to do. Walking is my brief escape from that, and although I know when this is all over, I’ll never want to go on a daily walk again, I’m grateful to be able to do it now.
1:30pm – Content Scheduling & Blog Post Planning
After lunch it’s time to grab another coffee and get stuck into Hootsuite, where I can happily spend a solid hour just scheduling posts and marking them off my Trello board. It’s my chance to pop on a lowkey Netflix show or Youtube video in the background and just fall into the repetition of it. Sometimes this can take a little longer, with post edits and image resizing for different platforms, but generally by about 3:00pm I’m finished. Then I’ll start planning out a client’s blog post for the week, typically to be written at a later stage in the week. This can involve sourcing products to talk about, finding images, noting down product details and formatting the post, so that when I sit down to start writing, I’m not just staring at a blank screen.
3:30pm – Mixing Self-Care with Scheduling
Something I’ve been trying to encourage in my routines recently is genuine, intentional self-care. This means more than just reading a book at the end of the day or doing my skincare routine before bed, it means finding new ways to enjoy the time I have – even multitasking work and relaxation if I feel I need to. A few weeks ago, I bought myself a foot bath from Amazon, one of those round, washing-up bowl style baths with jets and bubbles and massage rollers, as a treat for my tired feet and ankles. Unsurprisingly, I’ve found it incredibly therapeutic to use, and I’ve been working it into my daily routine more and more, and so typically around half three, you can find me sitting at my desk with my jeans rolled up to the knees, enjoying a little pedi-pampering as my hands fly across my keyboard.
One of the better perks of working from home is getting to do silly, relaxing and fun things whilst you’re at work, without anyone around to judge you. My mid-afternoon foot bath is just one of them, but for me, there’s no better way to get through the rest of my to-do list.
4:00pm – Relaxation
Around 4pm, I’ll take the time to quickly check around my digital workspace. This means refreshing my emails, opening and checking various social media accounts, and spending a little time just unwinding at my desk. Then, once I’m satisfied the work day has finished, I’ll take myself off for a little relaxation session. I’ve been introducing 10 minute meditation sessions into my days for the past few weeks, and I’ve really found they help to clear my mind a little, and give me the space to work through the events and thoughts of the day. I’ll find a quiet space, and load up some of my favourite guided meditation sessions, and just let myself still.
After my session finished, I typically have a few options. If it’s not my turn to cook, I can spend another hour in Animal Crossing or Minecraft, or working on my latest jigsaw puzzle – another calming hobby I’ve picked up throughout lockdown. However, on particularly troublesome or anxious days, I find it useful to work on some ‘brain development’ exercises, writing out my thoughts and challenging them there on the paper. I’ve been working through The Chimp Paradox for a couple of weeks, and it recommends spending around 10-20 minutes each day just exploring your thoughts and feelings of the day, and noting how you could change these or handle them different tomorrow. It can sometimes be a little heavy-going and triggering to truly pull your thoughts out of your head and battle with them, but I know the long term benefits for my mental health will be worth it.
Evening – Dinner, TV, Video Games & Bed
Sadly, our evening plans are rather limited in lockdown. For now, I’m happy to simply catch up on a few episodes of Taskmaster, escape into a video game or just relax on the sofa for a few hours, enjoying the quiet and peace whenever I can. Occasionally there will be Zoom calls with family and friends, or cleaning, or board game nights, but for the most parts, it’s just a steady stream of relaxing until bed. Another day finished.
I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring a day in the life of a freelancer in lockdown. Whilst not entirely different to a normal day working from home, the pandemic has impacted a lot of things, and I wanted to create a marker to remind myself that life was like this during the COVID crisis, when I look back on it in future. I want to remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to book cinema tickets and go out for dinner and work in a coffee shop. I want to tell myself not to be frightened by opportunities to travel and work and explore, because one day I was stuck inside my flat with nothing more exciting to do than use a foot bath at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
Life as a freelancer will change, for the better, once again. I’m just counting down the days until it does.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe.