A day, typical.
I’ve been writing online for nigh on two decades, and I’ve been tagged in my first blogging chain! I’m actually pretty excited about this.
For a little background: Colin Devroe wrote a post describing his typical day,” and asked a few people to do the same. One of them was Dan Mall, who asked Sara Soueidan to participate; she did so beautifully, and kindly tagged me in.
I’m grateful to Sara for the writing prompt, as I’ve been having the worst trouble sitting down to write amidst, well, everything. And I’ve really enjoyed reading some of the responses: Sara’s entry is a favorite of mine, as was Jeremy’s and Cassie’s.
So! That’s how we got here, you and I. And here’s what one of my days might look like.
Six, morning. Our alarms go off. Depending on how well we slept the night before, we might try snoozing once or twice, but “snooze buttons” have become something of a theoretical concept since we got the cats last year. They’ll start pacing over the bed, giving us tiny, kitten-sized headbutts, and sticking their heads beneath the blinds to let the sunlight in. At that point one of us will get up, feed the cats, and bring some coffee back for an hour of caffeination and
Seven, morning. I’ll exercise once I’ve dunked my head in enough coffee. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, She and I do a home workout together; this is a new routine we’ve picked up together during the pandemic, and it’s one I love.
On the other days, I’m headed outside for a run, usually for an hour or so. As someone who’s never considered himself a “runner”1, I’m surprised at how much I’ve come to enjoy it. It’s time by myself, away from screens, an audiobook in my ears as I amble through the city I love. Sometimes I discover new side streets; sometimes I say hi to the river. But no matter where I go, coming home to She and the kittens is, frankly, one of my favorite things.
Nine, morning. My day starts in earnest around 9AM, or as close to it as I can get. I’ll open up both email and Slack briefly to see if anything important’s come in, and reply to anything pressing. After that, I’ll close both2, look over my calendar, and plot out my morning. There might be a few meetings dotting the schedule, but mornings are the time I’m most awake and active. I try to reserve the pre-lunch hours for designing, writing, or detailed planning. In other words, the morning’s for the tasks that require my best brain. (Such as it is.)
Ten-thirty, morning. Quick break to grab another cup of coffee. If we’ve kicked the pot already, I’ll make some tea.
Noon. I try to take a proper lunch break. Most days, I’ll get some leftovers from the fridge. But I’ll go for a short walk to bring back something to eat if the weather’s nice3, or if I’m feeling a bit restless.
One, afternoon. The second work block starts around 1PM. I’ll start by properly sorting through my email, focusing first on anything that needs an in-depth response. Once that’s finished, I’ll get to work with my afternoon tasks. And that’s ideally anything that requires less brain-critical work: that could be production-level design or code, or maybe editing a piece based on some client’s feedback. At this point, I’ll usually leave Slack and email open, as incoming notification ping’s going to be less disruptive than it would’ve been in the morning.
Two-thirty, afternoon. Tea break. Caffeinated, please.
Four, afternoon. Tea break, optional. Decaffeinated, please.
Five or six, evening. Time to wrap up work. I’ve long lost the ability to work a long shift, though I can absolutely rally if a deadline demands it. But generally, I’ve found my work improves if I’m disciplined about pushing away from the keyboard, and giving myself time to rest, and to think. So I’ll make a note of anything that’ll require attention first thing in the morning, put my laptop to sleep, and close up my office for the night.
Six, evening. In the last year I’ve started cooking once or twice each week, so that She can enjoy more nights off. But She’s the real culinary talent in our household, and she’s usually hard at work making dinner. Whoever’s not cooking will make drinks, if it’s been that kind of day, or play with the kittens if they’re underfoot in the kitchen and being, y’know, kittens.
Seven, evening. We tend to eat in front of the television, and watch something together. Lately, that’s meant watching whatever videos Sohla’s or Rick’s released recently, or maybe an episode of Taskmaster or Bob’s Burgers.
Nine, evening. We’ll clear our dishes, and do some light cleaning-up. She usually loads the dishwasher, and sets up the coffee maker for the morning. I’ll tie up our trash and recycling, and haul it to the bins outside. The cats will not help with any of this.
Ten, evening. Bed. A few minutes of reading, or perhaps a phone game or nine, while we listen to the cats parkour off various walls in the apartment. And then, hopefully, sleep.
That’s the plan, anyway. I don’t want to suggest every day looks exactly like this. As much as I’d love to leave you with the impression that my time management’s immaculate (it isn’t), or that I’m incredibly, impeccably disciplined about sifting morning tasks apart from afternoon tasks (I’m not), my days deviate from this template more than they hew to it.
But at least for me, surviving life amidst a pandemic’s meant learning to accept when things need to change. If I miss a morning run, that’s okay; there’ll be another one. If a day starts at 10AM, that’s okay; there’ll be plenty of time to write that email. I’m still learning how to do this, but that’s slowly becoming part of my typical day, too.
Finally, part of this blogging chain thing is asking other folks to contribute. (As an example, here’s where Sara tagged me.) I wouldn’t presume to tag anyone — I know how busy people are, and I’d absolutely hate to feel like I was putting another commitment on anyone’s plate. But if I were to dream up five folks whose days I’d love to hear more about? Deb Chachra, Erin Kissane, Mandy Brown, Sara Hendren, and Mina Markham come immediately to mind.
Or any kind of “exercise person,” really. ↩
I try to keep email and Slack closed throughout the morning, as they’re both incredibly distracting to me. Especially when I need to focus. ↩
It is currently, I should note, winter. There is also, I should note, a pandemic on. So, like, it’s been a fair bit of leftovers lately. ↩