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On Time with Laura Bullard, Freelance Writer, Editor, & Fact-Checker

Part of our series on how seriously successful women spend their time

On Time with Laura Bullard, Freelance Writer, Editor, & Fact-Checker

Freelance writers work a unique schedule, playing worker, boss, project manager, business owner, and vendor; and for many, accountant and agent too.

Laura Bullard, whose clients include The New York Times, Vogue, Cosmopolitan,Marie Claire, Jezebel, and Curbed, is one that has found her way of making it work.

Here's how Laura manages her time (during fashion month, no less), in her own words.

The first hour of my day typically looks like this

So right now, I’m working a contract position that is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. This is a dramatic departure from my “normal” schedule, but I’m trying to play it cool and pretend I can keep regular work hours like the high-functioning working person that I purport to be.

I wake up about 45 minutes before I have to get started, which means I slide out of bed, splash some water on my face, change out of my sleep pajamas into my work pajamas, and pour a cup of coffee (if it’s ready by the time I get to it).

Whether or not the cup of coffee is ready depends on a careful, precarious set of calculations I make the night before. I get it right approximately 75 percent of the time. Basically, the time is never correct on the coffee maker because it resets itself whenever it is unplugged. It’s an old Bonavita, and it makes amazing coffee. I haven’t learned how to reset the clock on it, so I just do some math in my head the night before and hope it is correct.

This morning, I was not!

Once I have my coffee, I hop back into bed, check my emails, and get to work.

Laura Bullard's calendar

Here’s what last Friday looked like for me

12:30 a.m. Perform the coffee calculations, take a melatonin, hop into bed, and hope for the best.

7:30 a.m. My alarm interrupts a dream, and I forget it immediately. Pray the coffee is done, even though it suspiciously does not smell like the coffee is done.

7:32 a.m. Curse my subtraction skills and start the coffee.

7:33–7:40 a.m. Linger around the pot, muttering. Do the dishes from yesterday.

7:45 a.m. Got the coffee, time to check emails.

8:00 a.m. Work starts, and it’s fashion month. I’m copyediting runway reviews. Every hour or so, I’ll tab out on an exceptionally fine jacket, check the price, and sigh.

10:00 a.m. Reviews have slowed down to only around three an hour. This means I have approximately ten minutes of downtime between copyediting spurts. During those minutes, I work intermittently on a fact-check for a piece on the Trump/Taliban peace deals that have recently fallen through. Final notes are due on Monday.

11:11 a.m. Make a wish.

11:30 a.m. Hour lunch break.

Make a list of calls I need to make after 4 p.m. for book fact-check. Go through the draft of the chapter, highlight questions for each person in different colors. Avoid using lime green because it is the worst color.

Google “Current time in The Gambia,” and realize...

I need to make some WhatsApp calls right now, because it’s 4 p.m. there, and I need to firm up some bookings. By night, I work a research position for a travel journalist, and it’s been tricky finding things for him to do during the rainy season. My new connection seems promising, and I need to touch base with him before evening (his time).

Make two sandwiches: one for me, and one for my sweet fiancée who also works from home. Eat while I edit runway reviews at the kitchen table.

1:00–4:00 p.m. Fashion month madness!

4:01 p.m. Start making sourcing calls for the book fact-check.

5:00 p.m. Support group! Gotta keep that mental health in check and check in on other folks in my community.

6:05 p.m. Slack the travel journalist about bookings in The Gambia.

7:00 p.m. Research a grant proposal I’m writing on behalf of Nat. Brut, an art and literary magazine I volunteer for.

7:45 p.m. Finish up the peace negotiations fact-check, alert the editor.

8:30 p.m. Turn on a podcast (a new episode of Deconstructed is out and I’ve been looking forward to it), and make dinner.

9:30 p.m. Serve dinner, sit with my fiancée (who’s queued up a horror movie she’s been waiting to show me), and passively work on other projects while we watch. She’s working on a book layout; I’m working on learning more about something I’d like to write about eventually.

12:30 a.m. Perform the coffee calculations, take a melatonin, hop into bed, and hope for the best.

Laura's favorite time-saving tools

Slack. Workspace on workspace on workspace. So orderly! So beautiful!

Netflix. This saves me time in the sense that 10 minutes into any Criminal Minds episode, I am fast asleep. I’ve seen them all a million times. They’re like serial-murder-themed lullabies to me. Aaron Hotchner is my sandman.

I listen to The Daily and Pod Save America everyday, which is how I keep my finger on what educated white dudes think about The Issues of Our Time.
How I destress

Spending time with Kayla, hugging on my idiot pets, picking a tiny town on a map within driving distance and checking out the local junk store scene.

I would be lost without
My brilliant, kind, and beautiful fiancee, Kayla E . She is not technically a time-saving tool, but she does help me look for things when I lose them, which saves time. She’s also a big part of my support system and my best friend.
I never leave home without
My glasses. I can’t see without them!
The last thing I do before I go to bed
Perform the coffee calculations, take a melatonin, hop into bed, and hope for the best.

Laura Bullard is a queer, Lumbee writer, editor, and fact-checker. She is interested in the interplay between identity and power structures with a focus on gender, sexuality, race, and mental illness. She lives with her fiancée and three animal daughters in North Carolina.

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