A Day in the Life of Kristen

freelance editor desk

Photo by Kristen Stieffel. This is where I work.

One of the great things about being a freelancer is that every day is different. That makes it kind of hard to do a post like this, though. For example, on Tuesday this week I had a two-hour-plus phone conversation with an insurance provider. That really took a chunk out of my workday and, frankly, fried my brain. I got precious little work done after that. I wish I could bill them for my time, because they made much poorer use of it than my clients ever do.

Insurance torture aside, I’m going to present a composite of what most of my days look like.


7 a.m.—Make coffee. Have my morning devotion. In that order. Without the first, the second ain’t happening.

8 a.m.—Breakfast, read news, get ready for work. Despite those who promote freelancing as a way to earn a living in your pajamas, I make it a point to dress in real clothes every day, even if I don’t have a meeting to go to. It just makes me feel more professional. I even put shoes on. Some days.

9 a.m.—Make a pot of tea and boot up. Also, turn on the computer. Update blog and social media, check e-mail. Answer questions from clients, send bids on potential new jobs. Make a bank deposit if necessary. On Monday, I take a few minutes here to organize my to-do list and project schedule.

10 a.m.—Second breakfast. A health coach reminded me recently that eating six meals a day is actually healthier than eating three. I think that presupposes that each of the six is half the size of each of the three.

After second breakfast, I start editing. This may be an ongoing project like a substantive edit of a novel, or it might be a one-off job. On Monday this week, for example, I got a quick job from a client who needed a copyedit of a few pages of new text for his website.

11 a.m.—Still working. Might stop for a bit to troubleshoot a technical issue or throw a load of clothes in the laundry.

Noon—Lunch. Also some reading, bookkeeping. By half-past I’m usually back to work. I might use this time for pro bono work, like updating the website for one of the nonprofits I’m involved with.

1 p.m.—From here until about 5 p.m. or 5:30 I’m working, mostly on client projects but also on some of the non-billable items relating to work, like correspondence, scheduling, and bookkeeping. Working at home also means I can take a break and shift a load of laundry to the dryer if I need to.

5:30 p.m.—This is about the time I start cooking dinner; maybe a little earlier depending on what I’m cooking. Tuesdays and Thursdays are soup days, though. Then I work almost up until 6 p.m. Yeah, when I make soup for dinner, it comes from a can.

6:30 p.m.—Normally, after dinner is my time for my own writing and editing. This week I wound up using this time for client work. I am over-scheduled now, which is a blessing. I am thankful for the work!

8 p.m.—Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are gym days. I hate going to the gym, but I hate even more what happens to my waistline when I don’t go to the gym. Whenever I’m tempted to skip my workout, I remember the floaty-chair people from Wall-E.

9 p.m.—I know people say you should exercise early in the day to get your endorphins going. My endorphins must be broken, because this never works for me. So on gym days I come home from the gym, shower, make a cup of tea, relax with some knitting, and then go to bed, because after going to the gym I am useless for anything else.

10 p.m.—On non-gym days, I usually I try to stop at 10 to have a cup of tea, relax with some knitting, read, or watch a Rays game with my hubby. Sometimes I do all of these at once. I confess I sometimes keep writing until 10:30 or 11. One night this week, because of my over-scheduling issue, I was up until 1 a.m. I try not to do that too often. In fact, I think this is only the second time a client job kept me up past midnight. My own work often does.


This exercise has been really fun, and I’m grateful to Ralene for thinking of it. The discipline of noting how I spend my time has opened my eyes to see where I need to be more mindful. For example, I take way too many snack breaks! One of the drawbacks to working at home. But this process of observing my day will really help me in project scheduling going forward. A real eye-opener for me. I hope our readers have gotten something from this project, too.


About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

3 comments on “A Day in the Life of Kristen

  1. I’m glad to see you’ve got the caffeine and breakfasts going right. I don’t know how you do the late-night gym thing though. Of course, I’m not doing it at any time. (oops). But I’m falling over by 9:45 pm. I think I’ll put the kettle on, now that you mention it.

  2. […] have been re-thinking my writing schedule. As I mentioned when we did the Day in the Life series, I save my writing for the end of the day. Unfortunately, this often means that client work pushes […]

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