“So what do you do?” is a question I get asked a lot. And it’s immediately followed with either a “why,” a “how,” or a giant facial question mark. It seemed like a prime opportunity in the sizzling center of summer to put together a quick day-in-the-life.
First: my job title. Working full-time for Book Riot, my title is associate editor and community manager. The fancy title is a way of saying I do a lot of writing and editing of my work and others, I am responsible for some social media stuff, and I take care of behind-the-scenes tasks, including being available for contributors to bounce questions and ideas off.
Beyond the full-time job, though, I also edit for myself and write for myself. I’ve always got other writing and freelance obligations on my plate because I like having a wide array of writing and projects to bounce between. Having one focus doesn’t work for me, and, as it turns out, working entirely from home all day nearly every day, so I’ve taken a (very) part-time position at my yoga studio, too. It’s a way to stay involved in a business I love, as well as get to know more of the folks who come to yoga who I don’t get to see when I’m there for my own practice.
My work schedule on the Book Riot side makes me the special snowflake of the team. Unlike the rest of the editors and ad/ops folks, I don’t work a standard 8-4/9-5/10-6 workday. I split my days, working some hours in the morning and some in the evening. I also have Sundays and Mondays as my weekend, meaning that Tuesdays are essentially my Monday and that Saturdays, I’m at the helm for everything. Having done this now for a number of years, I’m not intimidated…except when things fall to pieces on a Saturday, which, while rare, does happen. I like to think I am pretty good, though, at the Emergency Backup Plan To Solve Problems.
Here’s how the donuts get made on a typical day.
5 am: I wake up. For real. My husband works over an hour away and he’s started his days closer to 7 am recently, so when he gets up, so do I. I could stay in bed, but I do like getting up and started on my own business before most everyone else.
6:15 am: By now, I’m usually showered, dressed, and with tea in hand. I start my Book Riot days by reading through the posts that went up the previous day — I’m always a day behind on reading content because of my schedule — and then start scheduling pushes for those posts on Tumblr and on Pinterest. When I wrap up the social media coverage on both of those, I tinker with our Goodreads page. I can’t possibly keep up with the comments over there in our forums, but I peruse them to make sure there aren’t fires to put out. I also like to add some book recommendations (generally pulled from either our New Books! Newsletter or from our Riot Recommendation posts of the best books we read in the previous month).
8 am: I am also in charge of indicating some information about sponsored posts, so a small part of my every day work is going into the program we use and making sure everything is labeled appropriately. It’s not a task that takes a long time, but it gets tedious sometimes.
8:15 am: Check and delete the email. Almost all of our office communication is through Slack, so 95% of my inbox is pitches for books and/or updates from Goodreads. I don’t need to keep much, if any, of it.
8:30 am: My time for miscellaneous housekeeping. This might be responding to emails or reaching out for interviews or researching YA news for the newsletter. This is a time when I like to update any information I have about contributors or reach out to them with reminders for what they’re writing this week that’s part of an ongoing series. I’ll use any time in here to dig through general book world news for my weekend Critical Linking post on Sundays.
9:30 am: Writing. I write the YA newsletter, a weekly column, and other miscellaneous pieces. They’re all in various stages of done throughout the week, so I pick up where I am and do a bit of work. Depending on what day of the week it is, I may write for a couple of hours on all of these or I may do more research for future pieces.
On a “typical” day, I tend to stop working between 10:30 and 11 am. There are days it’s earlier, as well as days it’s later — we have staff calls every week which happen either at 12:30 pm or 2 my time, so on those days, I just work on through. It gets me a ton of quiet time for getting a lot done.
But we’re calling this a “typical” day, so let’s play it that way!
11 am: I’ve already put in half a day of work, and by now, I’m ready to work on my own projects. This might mean answering emails or editing pieces for (Don’t) Call Me Crazy. It might involve working on household projects or chores, and it might also mean working on homework for any of the online classes I’ve been taking. I use this time, too, to journal or to go out and take photographs and let myself have some creative freedom. It’s this time when I generally eat lunch in front of my screen and work on other freelance work. By this point in my day, I feel like I’ve been so productive that I’m able to ramp it up and get piles of work done in what feels like a relatively short amount of time.
1:30 pm: Usually by now, unless I’m out of the house, I relocate from my office to the living room. This is quiet time that I permit myself to use as I wish. I could work more if I want, but I can also read and feel no guilt for spending a few hours doing that. It took me years and years to permit myself time to just be and by also permitting myself choice during this time frame, I know that if there is work I have to do for a deadline or there’s something someone else wants of me (i.e., an answer to an email), I can do it here. If I choose. I don’t expect people who work normal hours to bend to me during their non-work hours, and allowing myself the same parameters within my odd schedule has been so good for my mental wellness.
4:30 pm: Three hours of me time in the afternoon is generally enough time to find the energy to get myself to yoga. My yoga classes are 90 minutes long, so by the time I get there and home, I’m nice and sweaty. Around 4:30 is when I also log back on to everything for work — Twitter, Facebook, and Disqus for website comments — and log on to Slack to see what I may have missed. Having this half hour of prep time before leaving lets me know what to prepare for when I get back home. It also is a great motivator for working hard on the mat, if necessary, to get the anxiety and stress out.
7:15 pm: I’m home and making dinner at this point. Depending on the day and what I need to get done, I may use this time to do more social media work and/or writing for Book Riot. But this is also the time I’m 100% available to contributors, which sometimes, can be what I do most of the night. Reading posts, brainstorming, doing research — I love that stuff. It’s nice and makes it easy to also monitor and respond to what needs addressing on our social accounts. At night when you see snark going down? Usually that would be me. My husband is home by this point, and I often am less sitting at my computer for work and more up-and-down with cooking, some cleaning, and a lot of playing with various animals.
9:30 pm: I love to use the last bit of time while I’m doing social coverage and community management to brainstorm what needs to happen the next day, to take notes for what to share in calls, to peruse Edelweiss for things I should have on my radar. It’s a nice cooling down, and it’s a nice prep for the next day. I like to know if I’m going to go into a day where I do a single day’s work…or a day when I need to make sure I cram in 3 days’ worth of work.
10 pm: This woman is in bed. No joke. Because the next day will be coming soon enough.