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  • Toni

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Editor: October 2020

Updated: Jul 19

If you’re the curious type, you might have wondered what exactly a freelance editor does all day, so that’s what I’m here to share with you today!


Because no two days look exactly alike when you’re a freelancer, I plan to make this into a sort of series, with updates two or three times a year. I hope that in the long run, this will give a more realistic picture of freelance life not only to writers, but also to others who are thinking of becoming full time freelance editors.


With that, let’s get going!



Friday, October 9


6:00 am. I get up and check my email just in case any US-based clients have gotten in touch overnight. If anything needs an immediate reply, I take care of it right away. I leave the rest of the emails for after I've started my workday.


After that, I either fiddle around on social media, cruise job listings, or lie back down and listen to a podcast or audiobook for about half an hour. Today was a social media day. I started an Instagram account recently, and I’m trying to get more involved in the writing community over there. I’m editor_tonis if you want to follow me!


7:30 am. Hubby gets up and starts getting ready for work. Normally he's up earlier, but he's been putting in a lot of overtime lately, so he's allowed to show up to work later if there aren't any pressing meetings to attend.

Nano the sheltie on her morning walk. | editsbytoni.com | @editor_tonis on Instagram

8:00 am. I pick up the floor really quick so that the Roomba won't get tangled in anything and start it vacuuming, and then Nano (our sheltie) and I accompany hubby on his walk to the bus stop.


8:30 am. After our walk, I normally try to get in a workout. But I accepted a rush proofread from a client this week, so I'm skipping my workout today to give myself more time to work on that.


Instead, I make breakfast. Does anyone else go through phases with breakfast? Some weeks I’m all about bagels, then I’ll go through an eggs and toast phase, then a yogurt with fruit phase. Today is toast with a sunny-side-up egg. While I eat my breakfast, I usually turn on a YouTube video, though if none of my subscriptions have uploaded, then I may listen to my audiobook or a podcast some more.


8:50 am. I finish up my breakfast and give Nano hers. While she’s eating, I do my hair and brush my teeth. I let her out, then back in, and it’s time to get to work.


9:00 am. I always start my workday with client work. My brain is at its best in the mornings, so I do the bulk of my editing when my energy and concentration levels are highest. I use a modified version of the Pomodoro Method: twenty-five minutes always seemed too short to me, so I work for forty-five minutes instead. And a five-minute break always felt like hardly a break at all, so I stretch that to ten minutes. For my longer break, I go for twenty minutes.


When my timer goes off and it’s time for a break, I try to switch to something that doesn’t involve any screens if possible. This usually means doing housework of some kind—unloading or loading the dishwasher, throwing in a load of laundry, dusting around the TV, that kind of thing.


12:30 pm. I’m never totally perfect with my Pomodoros, even with the timer. Usually I go a couple minutes over here or there, but I end up taking my lunch break somewhere around this time. A lot like breakfast, I go through phases with lunches. Sometimes sandwiches, sometimes crackers with cheese or tuna salad, sometimes yogurt if I didn’t have it for breakfast. We've been eating through everything in our fridge to prep for a weekend trip to Costco, so I make myself a quesadilla even though that's what's for dinner, too.


1:15 pm. Back to work. As before, I continue with my same routine of forty-five minutes on, ten minutes off. I try to remember to roll my wrists and look off into the distance during my breaks as well. I’m pretty afraid of developing wrist and hand problems, so I’m trying to prevent them as much as possible. And looking into the distance helps with eye strain.


2:55 pm. Confession time: I always hit a major energy slump around this time of day. So rather than the productive breaks from earlier in the day, I usually end up taking a cat nap on the floor. If I’m really tired, I won’t even hear the timer go off, and I’ll end up sleeping for up to an hour! Today was not one of those days, though. I managed to hop up after my little cat nap and get back to work.

Copyediting with a mug of tea. | editsbytoni.com | @editor_tonis on Instagram

3:50 pm. Normally at this time, I'd finish up client work for the day. I'd take another break and then switch to doing my own business stuff, like updating my website, writing blog posts, and checking social media again. But this rush proofread I'm working on is due next week, so I'll use this time to continue editing instead.


5:00 pm. This is my goal finishing time, though I have to admit that I don't usually end my day here. In fact, I often wait until I get my husband’s text that he’s headed home, and then I’ll stop for the day. When you run your own business, the work never really ends, but I have to give myself some kind of cutoff. My husband coming home works well for that.


5:28 pm. I get my husband's text, so I save my progress, back it up to a flash drive, and then Nano and I head out to meet him at his bus stop and walk him back home. This serves as her evening walk, though if my husband was working overtime, then we’d head out around 6:30 for the evening walk instead.


6:35 pm. Back at home, I put dinner together. On Friday I’m usually just reheating leftovers from earlier in the week, but since we've been clearing our fridge, today is quesadillas. We usually watch a show while we eat. We’re in the middle of Big Bang Theory reruns and an anime called Natsume's Book of Friends at the moment, and we switch back and forth between them. Last week we took a break from TV shows and watched the Karate Kid movies for a change of pace.


7:15 pm. Dinner done, we kick back and relax. Hubby usually plays video games, and I either stick my nose in a book or pick up the ol’ Switch myself. Since it’s Friday, the only actual TV show we watch, Chiko-chan, is just about to come on, so we’ll stop the gaming to watch that.


10:00 pm. Since I’m getting up at 6:00, I’ll feel like a zombie (and take way too many naps) if I’m not in bed by 10:00. I usually prep for the next day by picking out my clothes ahead of time and making sure my bullet journal is updated and open to the correct page. I’m usually pretty tired at the end of the day, so I have zero trouble falling asleep!



And that’s it! That’s a very productive, everything went smoothly sort of day in my life. Next time, I’ll show you a less productive day. A more “average” day. Stay tuned!


How do you structure your days? Do you use calendar blocking? Timers? A to-do list? Let me know!


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