This photo seems like a fitting image for my turn as Day in the Life chronicler. It is my trusty companion, day in and day out as I sit and work in my sunny home office in Chicago. For those who don’t know, I’m Danielle Wiley, founder and principal of Sway Group. We are an agency that represents bloggers (and blogger conferences) for paid gigs. This means lots and lots of emailing and phone calls and administrative work, and I do all of that from my home office. I’m pretty lucky to have a dedicated space, and it’s one of the things we loved most about this house when we bought it. It used to be a balcony off the master bedroom, but the previous owners closed it in and added tons of built-ins for file storage. The office is freezing in the winter (space heater) and crazy warm in the summer (window A/C), but I love the sunniness. There are three huge windows and a skylight, so I rarely use lights, which I love. Anyway, enough about my space, let’s talk about how my day goes.
I spent a lot of time thinking about which day I’d document in this space. I decided on Tuesdays, because they are one of my crazier days.
5:30am: I wake up and immediately take the dog out in my pajamas. She is elderly (13) so I have usually been up doing the same thing at 2am. As soon as we are back in the house, I put on a pot of coffee and run upstairs to change into my workout clothes. I fill up my travel mug with coffee and head out the door to my Tuesday Pilates class: 6am JP Calisthenics (sort of like boot camp, but with an emphasis on form and breathing).
7:05: I walk back in my house to mayhem. The kids have been up for about 15 minutes at this point. If I am lucky, they are dressed and eating breakfast, so I can focus on the lunch making. If I am NOT lucky, everyone is yelling, the kids are still in pajamas and I lose all Pilates zen within two minutes of re-entry.
8:00: The kids have been dropped off at school in actual clothing, with their teeth brushed and lunches in their backpacks. I come back into the house and realize that a shower would be a GREAT thing right about now. One of my rules with showering is that I force myself to complete the entire process without glancing at my email. Before I instituted this rule, I frequently found myself sitting on my chair in just a towel nearly an hour after getting out of the shower. So… shower, hair product, get dressed, THEN to the home office, with a bowl of cereal if I’m being responsible.
8:30 – 1:30: I spend the next five hours juggling a combination of conference calls, proposal creation, follow up emails, inbox maintenance and IMs with my colleagues. IM is my lifeblood, and the only thing that keeps me sane now that I’m not in an actual office with other human beings. I have multiple IM clients open at any one time. I use iChat to handle my Gchats (with Jabber), AIM and Messenger conversations. I use Skype to chat with everyone else. To keep track of the craziness, I use a variety of tools. I try to forward all important emails to Highrise, which files everything by contact, and allows my colleagues and I to know what we are all up to at any given time. I also have a paper notebook in front of me at all times. I use the arc system from Staples, which I love, because the papers can snap in and out. I have one section for notes, and use the section in the front for my To Do lists. I update my To Do list throughout the day, every day, and usually create a brand new one every three days or so. My brother is living with us for a few months, so he usually reminds me to eat lunch at about noon or so. He’ll even bring me something from “the outside world” if I ask nicely.
1:30: At 1:30, I close my computer and head out the door to grab my kids from school. They get out at 1:45 (I know!) and on Tuesdays, I don’t have a babysitter. Tuesdays is also ice skating day, so I make sure to throw their gear in my car, and we go straight from school to the rink, where they each get a one hour private lesson with a coach (figure skating for my daughter, hockey skating for my son). I always try to schedule a phone call for 2:30, which lets me get a conversation off my to do list while watching my kids practice turns, stops and whatever else they are doing that day.
3:45: By 3:45 we are back home, where I try to get the kids excited about doing their homework. Ha. I usually bring my laptop down to the kitchen table and respond to one off emails while helping them. This is typically an exercise in futility, as they both want more help and attention than I can provide while multitasking. Ice skating tires both kids out tremendously, so I let them watch a bit of TV after homework, and I can typically squeeze in some more work.
5:30: At 5:30 every day, I try as hard as possible to leave my computer and go back to my family life. I celebrate this transition with a beer or a Manhattan. My husband is home by 5:30 too, so it’s nice family time. We relax, watch old episodes of Seinfeld, chat, and get dinner made, though we don’t typically eat until 7:00.
7:30: Bedtime for my son (yes, right after dinner!). I help him do some reading and he gets tucked in with his closet light on to keep away the boogie men. I then sit with my daughter while she reads (usually reading my own book) for 30 minutes. She goes to bed by 8:30, and I’ll then head downstairs to watch some TV. I do everything in my power not to open my computer after 5:30, and most nights I succeed. I absolutely check my iPhone every 10 minutes or so, but the “no computer” rule keeps me somewhat sane.
10:30: Time for bed. I set my iPhone alarm for the next day and hope for a good night of sleep.