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Typical Days? A Look at My Busiest Week Ever: Monday

People often ask, when I’m sitting on panels or giving workshops or talks, what a “typical” day is like as a freelancer. The great thing–for me, at least; for some people, it can be maddening–is that there’s no consistent structure. There’s always researching, writing, reading, taking care of my kids, and, hopefully, taking a shower, but outside of that, all bets are off and the ratios of some of these things against others shift from one day to the next.

A few weeks ago, some friends said they’d like a peek at my daily schedule, such as it is. I decided, what better time to indulge them than during the busiest week of my life?

Here’s how Monday went down:

7:00 AM:
Wake up. Make oatmeal for oldest child, pack her lunch, and help her get ready for school. Take a quick shower, dress, pack my own backpack (laptop, agenda, book to read on train, journal, pens, press card, business cards, wallet, iPhone).

7:40 AM: Leave home and walk to school.

7:53 AM: Arrive at school, drop daughter off, make a donation of books to school’s used book drive. Walk to neighborhood coffee shop to work until it’s time to leave for a meeting in Manhattan.

8:05-10:32 AM: Work at coffee shop. Check bank accounts and note paid invoices. Send outstanding April invoices to five clients. Check and respond to email. Send an email to an editor with a list of upcoming articles. Check Facebook and Twitter for my own accounts and for Cultures & Cuisines, a website I’m launching with Christine Gilbert on Friday. Prep rest of the day’s to-do list and make note (mental and otherwise) of article deadlines this week. Read Mexican and Puerto Rican newspapers online. Download most recent version of the outline for the workshop I’m teaching with Conner Gorry at CUNY School of Journalism on Friday and save it on laptop for our 11:30 meeting. (Tickets are still available, by the way!)

10:32 AM: Leave coffee shop and get on subway. Head to Manhattan. Read Chester Himes interviews on the train and marvel how much and yet how little the publishing industry has changed since the 1940s, especially for people of color.

10:49 AM: Get off train in Times Square. Walk to bank to get replacement bank card for Girl Scout account and make a deposit for cookie money!

11:30 AM: Walk to NYPL. Meet Conner. Decide that we should change venues and work in a cafe across the street. Work on refining the outline for our How to Report on Cuba (Responsibly) workshop. Make a list of action items for each of us to follow up on before Friday.

1:15 PM: Leave Manhattan and head home. As I walk home from train, Francisco calls to say that we’re having an unexpected guest coming over for a light lunch at 3 PM. The apartment, he says, is a mess.

1:40 PM: Home. Francisco gets ready to go pick Mariel up from school. I put water on to boil–pasta’s always an easy lunch!–and start straightening up. We change the other kids’ diapers, get them dressed, and I vacuum.

2:00 PM: Francisco straps on his rollerblades and zips off to pick up Mariel. I add the pasta to the water and prep toppings.

2:37 PM: Francisco and Mariel arrive home. Orion falls asleep. I call a PR person to request photos for an article for The Latin Kitchen.

3:00 PM: Guest arrives. Lunch is served.

4:00 PM: Guest leaves. Francisco takes Orion and Mariel to the playground. Olivia naps. I work on action items for the Cuba workshop: finding and sending some photos to Conner; cleaning up our list of resources so that the formatting is consistent; pulling the email list for the participants to send them an update message about materials they should bring. I also draw up an evite for the May 24 dinner for Cultures & Cuisines and start working on the guest list. I follow up on a last-minute article opportunity, sending materials an editor has requested for a time-sensitive piece.

6:00 PM: Francisco and kids return home. Two oldest kids go into bathtub; Francisco starts cooking dinner. Mariel gets out of bath and we start homework. She goes to visit a neighbor. I play with “the littles,” submit the Girl Scout cookie order, and plan pick up with the troop co-leader.

7:10PM: I feed the littles.

7:30 PM: Mariel comes home and eats dinner. I make a cocktail and, of course, drink it.

8:00 PM: Start to get kids ready for bed, helping them brush teeth, choosing books to read, and getting them into bed. Read books. Talk. Do a last round of milk for the two youngest. Lights out by 9:00 PM.

8:20 PM: Francisco leaves to do some errands: grocery store, post office, pick up keys for a friend who needs him to let in guests while she’s out of town.

9:00-10:20 PM: Wait for Orion to fall asleep. I fall asleep in the process, waking up when I hear the wind blowing over a container in the kitchen.

10:20 PM: Wake up. Kids all asleep. I wash bottles and prep them anew, wash dishes, put away food, make Mariel’s lunch for tomorrow, and set out breakfast items for the morning.

10:30 PM: Francisco comes home. We talk and catch up and plan how we’re managing the rest of the week.

11:00 PM- 1:30 AM: I continue working on the Cuba workshop materials. Orion wakes up and has a stuffy nose so fusses. I bring him out to the living room to sleep and fall asleep with him around 2:00 AM.


11 responses »

  1. Hi. Well … I am impressed. Do you naturally have oodles of energy or are you totally drained by the end of the day ? All the very best. Kris.

    • Julie Schwietert Collazo


      I have oodles of energy until I lay down in bed and then I totally crash. I often fall asleep while putting the kids to bed. Sometimes I get up afterwards and work some more, but I often just keep sawing logs until the morning. 🙂

  2. I’m actually up much earlier than normal (the promise of a 19 degree day)–generally I don’t punch in (at the coffee pot first) until 10:30. Life with kids adds a completely different dimension–my only responsibility today is to run (self-inflicted daily requirement) and make pizza for around 7 when my partner arrives home. The hours in between will skip between writing two articles–one about the sustainability of massaging horses, the other about a ‘road trip to wellness’ that involves a beer soak, a visit to a lavender farm and an apiary. I’ll mess around on Facebook, revisiting my friends recent photos of Haiti and the Virunga Mountains. I also have to pressure read Alexandra Fuller’s Leaving Before the Rains Come today(for pleasure, not review) as I hate incurring late fees at the library. This will involve a slight cat nap in the sun, I’m sure. And, without fail, I’ll wander off into the gardens at some point and be plucking wayward aliums and weeds out of the beds and stone pathway. Thanks for sharing your day, Julie. I think I was most fascinated that you had a Girl Scout bank card!

  3. Thank you for this window into your world. Very helpful for those of us considering a similar lifestyle.

  4. Good! You are realy scheduled how often??

  5. Christine Delsol

    Good lord. And still you have time to write up a log of this marathon? That alone would have taken me half the day. I don’t know how you do it.

  6. Julie,

    Did you have dinner? Somehow I missed it. Or was the cocktail it?


  7. Am so impressed, Julie! Not quite sure how you do it. (And sure hope you’re hanging in there this week…)

  8. Hi Julie, delighted to have discovered this blog. It’s a great resource. You mention packing a press card. Who provides press cards for freelancers, and are they necessary? I’m a freelancer too – just asked for press accreditation at a conference. They wanted a press card but eventually approved me based on clips – but it got me wondering.

  9. A typical day in mom’s life!


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