I just came across a series of “My Typical Day” blog posts started by Colin Devroe. He wrote the first one back in January and called out a few bloggers to do the same. It got a pretty good response. I haven’t been tagged yet, but figured I would join in too. Here’s a look at my COVID-19-era typical day:
Around 7:00 AM - Wake up and lay in the bed using my phone for a while.
For most of my life, my natural wake-up time was around 10 - 11 AM (I’ve had a pretty consistent 12 - 3 AM bedtime). Lately though, whether it’s from stress or just too much on my mind, I always end up waking up around 7 or so, unable to go back to sleep. I don’t actually want to be up at 7 though so I just lay there. My phone is usually around on my bed/nightstand somewhere, so I just look at RSS feeds or Twitter for a while.
Sometime around 9:00 AM ~ 10:00 AM - Get up and shower.
I take a 10 - 15 minute shower every morning. I do a lot of thinking in there. If I’m actively working on some kind of project/feature/article, I’ll end up doing some planning while my mind wanders. Since most of my time being awake these days involves staring at a screen, it’s good to have a block of time where I actually have to be in my own head. I definitely miss my subway commute for more of that.
About 10:00 AM ~ 11:00 AM - Make breakfast.
Either I or my partner Monique will make oatmeal and coffee most mornings. It’s pretty random who will end up doing it, but we kinda alternate.
Oatmeal: Steel cut oats. The kind you cook over the stove for like 10 mins. We usually dice apples while the oatmeal cooks and add that, cinnamon, honey, and some berries if we have any.
Coffee: We usually have some coffee from Starbucks/Peet’s/etc (whole beans, dark roast) around and we’ll grind and use a french press while the oatmeal is finishing up.
From around 11:00 AM until like 1:00 AM - Development, writing, video games, TV shows, etc.
After breakfast, most of the rest of my day just rotates between programming/development (either for a client or my own projects), writing articles, watching TV shows, and PC gaming. Usually in blocks of a couple of hours. And the order usually depends on what I was thinking about the most in the shower.
Meetings: Depending on the client I’m working with at the time, I may have meetings throughout the day. But luckily since I haven’t worked as an employee for a while, I don’t have as many as I used to.
TV: If Monique and I are actively watching a show (lately it’s been The Strain and 12 Monkeys), we’ll watch a few episodes during the course of the day. Usually after 6:00 PM or so, but it depends on our schedules. We mostly use the Apple TV - Hulu, HBO Plus, Netflix, YouTube, etc.
Cooking: If we don’t order out (which is probably about half of our lunch/dinner meals), we mostly alternate cooking, sometimes for both of us, sometimes individually. Monique is more into it than I am, so she does it more than I do. We don’t have much of a schedule for food though. Usually we just start planning whenever one of us is feeling hungry enough.
Games: I realized recently that I’ve been playing a lot of games that need the same type of brain activity as building software. Mostly base building or strategy games like Civilization, Valheim, Grounded, or No Man’s Sky. Also some Magic The Gathering Arena. And Elite Dangerous. I play (and stream sometimes) randomly throughout the day, and some of them with Monique in the evenings.
Anywhere between 12:00 AM ~ 3:00 AM - Wind down and sleep.
I don’t have a specific bedtime. Depending on what I’m working on or playing, (or if I’m running behind on a deadline) I might be up pretty late. Sometimes I smoke too much and go to bed at like 10:30 PM.
Most nights, when I’m done with code/games, I get into bed and read the exact same stuff I do when I wake up in the morning (RSS/Twitter), or I watch YouTube videos of people playing video games like Civ 6 or whatever, which will usually immediately put me to sleep.
Some things you might be noticing:
Flexibility. There’s a giant 14 hour block of time where most of the things I do every day happen. That’s exactly the way I like it.
I didn’t say anything about outdoor activities/exercise. And that’s because I pretty much haven’t been doing any of that this past year. I live in a very walkable neighborhood that I like a lot but… you know. COVID. But now that vaccination is in full swing, I’m expecting that part to change and I do things that require walking around the city and seeing people in person.
There is no work/life balance.
The things I enjoy doing (solving technical problems with code and documenting/talking about those things) happen to be really valuable. But like most people, I don’t really love doing these things as an employee. Over the past few months I’ve tried to organize things so I can do those things in a way that isn’t like what we think of when we think of work, and make enough money to enjoy my life. I switched to freelance development (working mostly by myself instead of on a team so far) late last year, and I think I got pretty close to what I was looking for.
Now I “work” at pretty much any time: weekdays, weekends, afternoons, late at night, whenever. But at times that work best for me, in the priority/order I think makes sense, doing things I actually want to spend my time doing. I’m happy so far.