When I was a teacher from 1987 to 2015, like all colleagues and pupils, bells and term time defined my life. I’d fume if there was an Open Evening or Parents’ Evening where we expected to explain progress to 30 sets of parents an hour after ending in the classroom, until 8pm. The only respite was some shite coffee or tea in a styrofoam cup brought round by kindly pupils – those 12 hour days weren’t typical though, thank God.
What was typical was the day – staff briefing where senior leadership appeared for 10 minutes, before disappearing until the next day. Standard. Registration with an assembly. Teaching two periods. Break with or without duty. Another lesson. Lunch of 30 minutes. Registration. 2 more lessons. Duty. Meetings. Go home.
It was Groundhog Day without Andie MacDowell waiting. It was enjoyable at times, exciting but mainly mundane, repetitive and stressful.
Freelance working day
Firstly, I actually know I work harder now than when I was a teacher, where I knew books off by heart and had a collection of DVDs that Amazon would blush at. I was good at teaching, but reading “Of Mice and Men” twice a year was dull. I get up Monday to Friday at 6.45 am still. I don’t get dressed for work though. I normally shower later in the morning and slide into slob gear for the day ahead.
I’m responsible for preparing breakfast for wife and daughter, packing their lunches daily (except on Monday and Friday, when wife takes over as she is “freelance” those days). I make myself a coffee, pop an Omeprazole and B12 tablet, and face the decision of what to eat. I’m a coeliac who’s vegan now, so I tend to go with gluten free toast and peanut butter, or cereal with soya or almond milk, when bored. I make a smoothie for my daughter in the Nutri Bullet, wave them off at 7.55 am and the day is all mine.
In the morning, I scan the news and schedule social media posts for the 10 clients who pay me a retainer to be them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I love this as it’s so diverse. One client pays me £100 a month for Facebook posts, another £1000 for a full monty of weekly beefy articles and all social media managed. That’s three posts a day on Facebook, Instagram, 10 on Twitter and 3 on LinkedIn daily. All different too. No rinsing and repeating as they’re paying me £30 a day, which isn’t bad value?
I have a coffee and banana at 11 to replicate school days of yore, then move on to blog writing.
This is what really floats my boat. I bang on about it enough. Writing is what I enjoy the most – I like nothing more than a blog brief, some Tone of Voice guidelines and a nice advance payment to get me to commit, along with the client. These normally take up 2 or 3 hours.
I normally have some quick lunch at home with San Pellegrino. I sometimes piss off to the gym or the city for lunch. Sometimes I don’t start work again. In fact, some days I do no work. Freelance is like that – no bosses, no bellends, except the occasional client who won’t pay, or scope stretches or is just a dickhead.
Generally dog walking. Cassie demands an hour plus of walking and I’m happy to oblige. Got decent footpaths and woods near us – Norfolk init – and this takes me up to school run and a frantic 20 minutes of tidying. I empty the dishwasher, tidy up, think about dinner before wife and daughter swoop like Ofsted.
Evenings used to be reserved for getting pissed but no longer. Dry now for 38 months almost. I piss around on YouTube and often allocate 7pm to 11pm to web design. For some reason, I like doing it then though never in a morning.
There is something schematic about a working day – social media, writing, walking, cleaning, web design. The real pressure comes when GCSE mock exam marking is thrown into the mix – 400 or 500 papers to be marked suddenly throw my circadian rhythm into turmoil. It becomes a priority and I tend to do it for 8 hours a day. Will of iron me.
Materialistic not altruistic
I’m openly materialistic – I make no secret of that. Earning good money is a massive motivator for me and if I can earn £2500 in a manic week of 7 days’ work I’m chuffed. Anyone would be? I don’t stash this for some care home fund. I blow it – on family, holidays, cars, eating out, clothes, trainers and Apple merch. I can reel off so many colleagues who were as tight as a gnat’s arse and had £300,000 saved for a rainy day. Many of them keeled over after retiring. I’ll never have that sort of stash but they’ll never have my lavish lifestyle. You get one go at life and I’m not working my knackers off to leave thousands in a will. Selfish yes. How I roll though.
I go to bed at 11 and sleep like a baby knowing that the next day, be it Wednesday or Sunday will be just as enjoyable as the day I’ve just described.