I’m frequently asked about the transition I made from attorney to sports business reporter. The biggest difference is that there’s no time I’m really off work anymore. I’m always watching headlines and keeping track of the latest, whether it’s 6 a.m., 9 p.m. or over the weekend. I haven’t had a day where I do no work for ESPN or on one of my books since I began this new career. The only way weekends feel different than weekdays is that Chadd is home and I spend more time on my book than on ESPN work.
Mostly, my day is about multitasking. Just to give you an idea of a typical day, I kept track of what I did last Thursday:
7:15: Read through emails from overnight and respond as necessary.
7:40: Tweet interesting tidbits as I read through the blogs I follow in Google Reader.
8:10: Editor from a women’s magazine gives me a new assignment. I reply acknowledging the due date and asking questions about length.
8:15: Email the three experts I had in mind for the women’s magazine piece and ask to set up phone interviews for next week.
8:25: Walk my dog and try to convince her to eat. My older dog died earlier in the week and now my younger dog is seemingly on a hunger strike.
8:46: Look through my notes from both pieces I’m currently working on for ESPN.com and email additional sources I need to complete the stories.
8:57: Start my prep for my 10:45 phone call on the NHL’s CBA negotiations. Read through all the recent articles I can find and take notes.
9:42: My stomach is growling, so I make a quick breakfast and eat it at my desk while I continue to read the latest news on the NHL CBA negotiations.
10:45: Call with a source for my story on NHL’s collective bargaining negotiations.
11:00: Prearranged call with an organization about some potential opportunities speaking with students. Walk my dog while on the phone.
11:27: Review emails from the last couple of hours and reply to those that require attention.
11:52: Time for lunch. While I’m eating lunch, I throw some things in the slow cooker for dinner later.
12:11: I see email pop up from source I’m waiting on for an Olympics story. She declines to be part of the story, so now I have to find another source.
12:25: Continue reading articles on NHL CBA negotiations and take notes.
1:09: Email from my editor re: Cleveland Browns sale announced today. I responded with an angle for the story.
1:12: Start researching NFL team sales, Browns ticket prices, attendance and other pertinent details in case I write the story.
1:37: I think of two people I want to talk to for my NHL CBA story. I don’t have either of their emails, so I go on two different websites to find those. I email them to ask if they are wiling to talk and when they have availability.
1:47: Editor gives me the go-ahead on the Browns piece. I spend the next 15 minutes sending emails and making calls trying to find expert opinions for the piece, then go back to my online research for the story. I start writing the framework for the piece while I wait to hear back from experts, who could change the framework entirely, but I’m going on gut feeling to save some time since this is a piece in the news cycle.
2:01: Receive email from a source I want to interview for my book on the business of college football, and he asks me to schedule through a PR person. I email the PR person asking to do the interview next week.
2:40: An expert for my Browns story responds and says I can call immediately. I call and spend 10 minutes talking about the sale and taking notes. Then I spend the next 10 minutes adding his perspective to the framework of my story.
3:00: Prearranged call all with an organization about a keynote speech I’m giving at their conference in October.
3:20: Back to working on my Browns story. Still need at least one more source, so I send out a couple more emails and make another call. Then I go back to working on the story.
3:48: A second expert I wanted for my Browns story replies to my email and says I can call immediately. I call and spend about 15 minutes talking about the sale and taking notes.
4:05: Add perspective of second expert to the Browns story.
4:18: I send the draft of my Browns story to my editor. It’s a little different than the angle I pitched, because the experts took it in a new direction that I liked better.
4:20: Take the dog for another walk. Beg her to eat.
4:40: Read through my notes for my Olympics piece and decide I have enough without getting another source. Start putting together framework for story.
5:30: ESPN editor returns edited Browns story. I read, make one small change and resubmit.
5:40: Chadd is home, so I take a break to have dinner with him.
6:20: Call with a source for my NHL CBA story, which lasts about 25 minutes.
6:45: Print and fill out tax forms so I can get paid for my last freelance magazine piece.
7:00: Call it quits for the day, which simply means I’m done with research and writing. I’ll continue to monitor email and Twitter until I go to bed.
Somewhere in all this I also fit in a couple of dozen tweets, responded to two emails from my aunt and three from my mother, and threw on a load of laundry. I read through 16 emails from PR companies with pitches for stories, at least 75% of which don’t fit in with anything I write. All three of the sources for my women’s magazine piece replied back and scheduled phone interviews for next week.
I also received a delivery from the veterinary clinic – a plant to commemorate the life of my dog who died earlier in the week. I cried and got distracted for at least 5 minutes thanks to this. I also dealt with two calls from my bank about a new account I opened earlier this week. Oh, and I took time to scribble down notes to myself so I could write this piece.
The thing about my career change is that there is no typical day. I wake up with a tentative plan for the day, but I have to adjust as news breaks if it’s something I should cover. I’m someone who is most productive when I have a routine, so there’s a basic order I follow: wake up and read emails from night before, read blogs in Google reader looking for good info to tweet or story ideas, walk the dog, start working on whatever I’m researching/writing, lunch, back to whatever I’m researching/writing. Some days I work on one story all day long. Other days I switch between several as I conduct interviews, do the research and actually write the story.
Any questions? I’m happy to answer.
UPDATE: Since posting this, quite a few of you have tweeted to ask me when I fit in time for the gym and if I do anything for myself. So, here goes…
I try to go to classes at the gym two nights a week. When I’m in town, I’d say I make it 90% of the time, but some nights I have to forego because it’s the only time someone can do an interview or something else comes up. I also try to fit in some outdoor activities on the weekend. I generally write on my book from 8 a.m. to noon and then again from 2 p.m. to 3-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays. After that, I try to go exercise on the beach with Chadd. Some days I’m too tired and I just want to lay on the beach and read a book. I also try to read some books for pleasure for an hour or so before bed at night. I often watch my favorite trashy reality shows during my lunch break. I do dinner with a friend at least once a week.
It’s not all work and no play, but the thing is that my work doesn’t generally feel like work. Writing my book on Saturday and Sunday mornings is something I truly enjoy. I keep wondering what I’ll do with myself when I turn in my book to the publisher next week. Oh, wait…I have another book due next month! But really…what after that? I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll take on something else. That’s the thing about loving what you do for a living – it really doesn’t feel like work.
This lifestyle works for me. I don’t have kids, which frees up a lot of time. My boyfriend is in sports media as well, so he has a similar schedule and understands. He’s also written a book, so he knows the work that entails. I’m very lucky to have found someone whose lifestyle works with mine and who understands what I do and why I do it.