A Thirtysomething’s Realistic Work Diary

Lifestyle

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Every day by 7:00 a.m., Robin Arzon, a fitness instructor at Peloton, has already practiced her 20 minute Vedic meditation; by 8:00 a.m., she’s hydated three ways (one by guzzling an “H20 cocktail” with room temperature filtered water, a dash of sea salt, a quarter lemon, a splash of apple cider vinegar) and snuck a workout in. Her day is filled with productivity, copious amounts of water, and challenging movement.

You can read Arzon’s work diary in the New York Times. I raked through every detail. It’s fascinating. The precise snacks packed, the in-depth day preparation, the constant movement, the travel, the personal brand upkeep. While it was motivating, it was equally demotivating. While I understand all of our lives are different, and some days like Arzon’s make people happy, the day seemed unrealistic to me. 

Which is why I wanted to open up the Internet to some real 9:00 – 5:00 wholesomeness. A parody of sorts; a realistic work diary. We are all trying to be healthy, mindful of self, social, well-kept, and get enough sleep. But we don’t accomplish those things all the time. I work in marketing and my weeks are pretty routine and plump with networking and emails. I don’t drink enough water, I don’t work out enough as I think I should, and I need to get more sleep. But, you know what? I’m trying.

Here, in rousing detail, is my average workweek:

Monday

6:28 a.m. My alarm goes off. I press snooze and for the next eight minutes wonder if I actually turned my alarm off. So, five minutes into the sleep button, I give up, pick up my phone, and open Instagram. 

6:52 a.m. I’ve wasted over twenty minutes on my phone, including: a sweep through my junk mail, scrolling absentmindedly through Twitter, and staring at my Monday calendar for the day. I have a meeting at 8 am.

7:15 a.m. My morning routine is this. Wake up, smother my two cats, feed them, stare at them eat, brush my teeth, rinse my face with cold water, and slather on concealer. I went to bed with my hair wet the night before so it looks like I’m doing a high bun instead of curling my hair like I had aspired to do at 10:00 p.m.

7:34 a.m. I’m running late, so I text my boss that I may be five minutes late for our status meeting. I don’t know what’s wrong with me; being late makes me nuts. I’m not moving as fast today. And I burnt my first english muffin with butter and honey so now I’m carrying 800 things to my car, including breakfast, laptop bag, a tote full of cheese, sour cream, chips, and two-day-old taco meat, a book, and my purse.

8:05 a.m. I am screaming at someone for avoiding a very effortless zipper merge.

8:10 a.m. I deeply debate going to Starbucks. I don’t deserve it, because it’s only Monday and I haven’t done anything, and I’m running late. The drive-thru line is atrocious, so I coast into my work parking lot.

10:09 a.m. After having sat through two hours of meetings, I’m feeling overwhelmed. Mondays usually do this to me. The two hours of meetings are status meetings, so I’m realizing all of the work I need to get done by the end of the week. All I want to do is sit at my desk, but I have two more meetings before lunch. I write myself a color-coded list in my Passion Planner™ and set some intentions for the week. One of the intentions? BREATH.

10:50 a.m. I’ve dug through emails I ignored on Friday and random assignments that came through early in the a.m. On my to-do list for the week: research and storyboard buyer personas, fill up the agency’s social calendar, write a few blog posts on experiential marketing, and plan the fall networking/panel events at the agency. This is on top of the average 3-5 hours of meetings I have a day.

11:15 a.m. I am raging hungry. So, I bless myself to have lunch—my makeshift nachos. I eat standing up in the kitchen watching daytime TV. I use way too much sour cream, and remember I haven’t drunk water the entire morning. 

2:35 p.m. I have hit my 2:00 p.m. wall. I silently wonder why anyone thought it would be productive to have Americans work eight hours a day. I try to write a blog post. I make myself write a few emails. I open up Instagram three times in a row. I text nonchalantly throughout the day, but I take a quick break to send my sister a few funny Tik Tok videos.

5:10 p.m. I am on my way home in traffic. My commute is usually about 40 minutes and I try to use the drive time positively. Today, I’m listening to the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond about emotional labor

5:40 p.m. I love routines and one of my favorite ones is talking to my fiancé after work while in traffic. We talk about completely mundane things like about what we’re having for dinner, and do we have toilet paper, and should we stop at Trader Joe’s quick on the way home? We will have Hamburger Helper and mashed potatoes. We are 800 years old. I rarely have the energy or time to cook on weekdays. Cooking is for Sunday.

7:20 p.m. This is one of my favorite times of day. Most of the night is ahead of us, I’ve put on sweatpants, ate dinner, and now we can watch Monday Night Football or something on Netflix. I interchangeably read a book and my fiancé plays a baseball game on his cell phone. I light a few candles and have some CBD oil. 

11:12 p.m. I’ve been in bed for an hour and I honestly don’t know why I’m still awake. My phone is lighting up my face and I’m thinking deeply about tomorrow. Goodnight.

Tuesday

6:02 a.m. My alarm goes off because, today, I’m going to work out. This is a new thing for me, but I’ve been trying about 2-3 Alchemy classes a week. I want to make the 7:00 a.m. class so if I allow 30 minutes to dink around in the morning, I can make it to the gym with 15 minutes to spare. I do “arrival” math in my head all the time. Did I mention I hate being late?

7:42 a.m. I’m sticky with sweat and rushing to work. God, does it feel good to work out like that. I never regret it, but it’s so hard to stay honest with myself. My brain feels a little clearer too so I call my mom and we have a very happy morning chat.

8:25 a.m. I get ready at work quickly. I’m wearing kind of a weird outfit because of my quick “throw whatever you can find that’s comfortable in your tote bag” and feel a little less confident getting to my desk.

9:01 a.m. I have two calls with salespeople trying to sell some content marketing and social platforms today. We’ve been exploring opportunities and I absolutely hate anticipating conference calls with people I don’t know. So, I lock myself in a huddle workroom and bear through them. They are overly excited to talk to me and I feel guilty so I play fake nice, which is exhausting.

11:34 a.m: Tuesdays are light meeting days, typically, so I dedicate the rest of the afternoon to be productive. I write a blog post. I finish the August Social/Digital Report, I work through the Marketing Status sheet, and do some copywriting for a sales deck. 

12:45 p.m. I forgot lunch because of my early morning workout so I go to Chipotle and order a salad bowl with chicken, sour cream, and cheese, because I’m disgusting. I eat it with fervor at my desk, spilling everywhere, in between answering last-minute emails. I don’t like it when my inbox gets over 20. I file emails into my folders when I accomplish tasks. My email is my to-do list.

3:01 p.m. I’m so tired. And hungry again. I deeply imagine falling asleep in the corner under my desk and find a 30 second moment of imaginary pleasure.

7:00 p.m. In an attempt to have better control over my social life, I don’t have plans tonight. So, I draw a bath with lavender Epsom salt.

8:17 p.m. I have a few freelance articles to write. I’m not so much in the mood—I wish I could have 10 a.m. in a coffee shop. But, I adore words more than almost anything and feel like it’s a sort of personal duty. So, I write until nearly midnight.

Wednesday

5:12 a.m. I wake up in a cold sweat. The cats are huddled all around my neck, and I recall a dream about my car crashing. 

7:12 a.m. I shower with my eyes closed.

9:05 a.m. I have a few big meetings that need a lot of prepping this morning, so I spend my morning updating status sheets and writing agendas. I remember I have invoices to send out for freelance and a few bills to schedule, so I take a moment to write a “Personal To-Do” list to keep my brain straight.

11:10 a.m. After having felt light-headed in a meeting, I leave the office to go to the post office and send a few books out. I’m a self-published author by night and sell my books online on my own. Being away from the office, even for 45 minutes, feels good.

4:15 p.m. I leave the office early to make it to Wednesday trivia. Every other week we have a group of people that go. It’s my favorite way to break apart the week, and routine is romantic to me.

6:40 p.m. We run late for trivia, since traffic was so bad, and I stress drink a beer. The week had been so busy already and Wednesday made it feel never-ending. It was good to be with friends but in the back of my mind was the website copy I had due tomorrow for a freelance project and an intimidating article I’d been working on for weeks.

Thursday

6:59 a.m. I wake up a little hungover. I’m instantly mad at myself. I know too many 6.4% cream ales will get to my thirty-two-year-old insides eventually. I brush my teeth to get rid of the leftover hops taste that has been rotting my mouth for 7 hours. I take two Advils. I chug ice-cold water. I eat toast. I do *something* with my hair, commend myself for putting normal clothes on, and leave the house with seconds to spare. I note silently that getting older means I will just accidentally get drunk on weekdays instead of weekends. I don’t get drunk on weekends anymore. I think about tweeting that. 

7:51 a.m. I shove a waffle with butter into my face as I rush to my car for my traffic heavy commute. 

9:00 a.m. I am stacked with meetings I have to lead throughout the entire afternoon. We’re reworking copy on the website, working through a new social media strategy, and I’m leading the initiative on all of them. I finish a few PowerPoints early, put on my project manager sleeves, and follow up with a few colleagues on working projects. The headache has gone away, and I brew a second double latte for myself in the community kitchen.

12:15 a.m. I have a scheduled lunch with my “work mentor.” I am so happy to have a work mentor—it’s a wonderful initiative at my agency, but I get anxiety before lunch. In public, I look like a social butterfly and I enjoy people. My anticipation kills the mood for me most of the time. Once we’re there, we talk about work and he asks how I’m doing. We find out we both love books and talk about that for the duration of the lunch. 

3:26 p.m. I check my bank account to make sure I haven’t been too ruthless with buying coffees and lunches throughout the week. It’s fine. I shouldn’t go out too much this weekend. This is the weekend between paychecks and I have to make my student loan payment.

4:18 p.m. I text an old colleague to reschedule a happy hour next week. I double-booked myself for a marketing conference and a happy hour and I feel awful. Of course, she texts back “No worries!” and those two words ease my nerves. 

6:11 p.m. It’s good to see my fiancé. We’re both tired from a long week, so we agree to grab a quick bite to eat at a favorite local spot. Despite my earlier disdain about being a little hungover, I order a Pinot Grigio. 

Friday

6:13 a.m. IT’S FRIDAY! I will work out early! I am not hungover! I will wear my heart on my sleeve! What a beautiful day! I am wearing jeans!

9:20 a.m. Staying true to my word, I worked out. Now, I’m sitting at my desk drinking a pumpkin spice Starbucks that I rightfully deserve. I’ve done a lot this week. I’ve written three blog posts, almost reworked an entire website’s copy, helped strategize a really cool client pitch deck, and an article of mine published for a local online newspaper. I’m proud of myself. I have the entire day free of meetings.

10:03 a.m. Why not rearrange my desk?

11:11 a.m. I make a wish. I wonder where everyone is. Sometimes Fridays prove lonely at the office.

12:04 p.m. I drive to Hy-Vee for lunch, alone. I want to be alone on Fridays. I love my coworkers but privacy and quiet is nice at the end of the week. I get a slice of pizza and cheese bread to-go, walk to my car, pull out my book (right now, I’m reading Nora McInerny’s No Happy Endings) and eat my pizza with the windows rolled down.

1:24 p.m. I think about happy hour and text my girlfriends. I write a blog post. I clean up my inbox. This is the hardest part of the week to be productive. After noon on a Friday. I save this time to start projects without finishing them. It’s a good time for expense reports, content planning, building our micro-influencer list, catching up on Sales & Marketing articles, and organizing.

3:01 p.m. Something about 3:00 pm on Fridays makes me melancholy. I would simply like to go home.

4:42 p.m. I go to the bathroom. I clean all of my lunch dishes I left in the fridge throughout the week. I wipe off my desk and computer. I collect my things and discuss weekend plans with colleagues. Most “have no plans!” All of us, relieved, start to get up to go home to do nothing and everything.

5:01 p.m. The minute clicks to the weekend and I feel free and relaxed. I suddenly don’t want a nap anymore and the weekend is full of possibility. Part of my anxiety triggers the impending doom of Sunday, but I try to revel in the flexibility and hope of Friday evening.

BY Brittany Chaffee - September 18, 2019

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16 Comments  +

add a comment

  1. Jackie

    September 18th, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    I love this post. It felt incredibly realistic. Thanks for sharing!

  2. A Thirtysomething’s Realistic Work Diary – Business Blog

    September 18th, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    […] Continue reading A Thirtysomething’s Realistic Work Diary at Wit & Delight | Designing a Life … […]

  3. Rebecca

    September 18th, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Hey,

    I loved this article. It’s very refreshing to hear that someone else is going through similar struggles.

    I sell digital marketing software over the phone to clients like you and let me tell ya, we hate conference calls too 😉

    It’s also the most awkward time in my day and I dread having to call someone who most likely wants to be doing something else. Thanks for being nice and trying to sound enthusiastic. On behalf of sales reps everywhere, we appreciate it <3

  4. Brittany Chaffee

    September 18th, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Jackie,

    Thank you SO MUCH for reading! It’s such a relief for me to know everyone is going through simple, mundane, and sometimes very stressful (!) days like me. We’re all in this together 🙂

  5. Brittany Chaffee

    September 18th, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Rebecca,

    Awww!! I had a feeling you had the same feelings on the other end of that phone call 🙂 I can only imagine it would be so much harder to be on your end then mine, so I hope it’s not too stressful for you day-by-day. Happy to be kind. Days can be tough but I know it pays to be nicer than a mean dork!

    Thank you so much for reading.
    xoxo,
    Brittany

  6. IM

    September 19th, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Oh my gosh so true to life!! Honestly, thank you.

  7. Kristin

    September 19th, 2019 at 7:05 am

    I FEEL SO SEEN!! Absolutely loved this post.

  8. Brittany Chaffee

    September 19th, 2019 at 8:58 am

    IM –

    Thank you so much for reading and relating!! We’re all just spending our weeks trying our best to get by 🙂

    Have a great rest of your week!
    ~Brittany

  9. Brittany Chaffee

    September 19th, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Kristin,

    Awww! Thank you so much for taking the time to read!! I had a lot of fun writing this, and keeping a journal all week. We’re all just doing our very best!!

    xoxo,
    Brittany

  10. Julie Pearl

    September 19th, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    LOVED this post! Thank you for being so real (and hysterical!).

  11. Brittany Chaffee

    September 19th, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Thank you so much, Julie!! I’m glad you related to it 🙂 We’re all just trying to get by 😉

  12. Eva

    September 21st, 2019 at 7:51 am

    I love this so much!!

  13. Angela

    September 21st, 2019 at 8:40 am

    “I note silently that getting older means I will just accidentally get drunk on weekdays instead of weekends. I don’t get drunk on weekends anymore.“

    Word.

    (P.S. does anyone say ‘word’ anymore?)

  14. Brittany Chaffee

    September 25th, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Eva,

    Thank you so dearly 🙂 I’m glad we can all relate to the simple things that go down throughout our day by day!

  15. Brittany Chaffee

    September 25th, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Angela,

    SO GLAD YOU RELATE TO THIS TOO. What’s the deal, 30-year-old body? You have to go to work the next day don’t you know that?! 😉

    Thank you for commenting and reading! <3

  16. Brittany Chaffee

    September 25th, 2019 at 10:16 am

    p.s. “Word” is definitely still a thing in my book 🙂

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