Boy do we have a treat for you this wintry Friday morn! The immensely talented author and journalist, Poorna Bell, talked us through her routine with lots of great insight into how she manages to fit everything into her hectic schedule. If you haven’t read her incredibly moving (and funny) debut book Chase the Rainbow yet, get on it. Her second – The Sound of Silence – is out this May.
What time do you wake up?
I tend to wake up around 7am, but it depends on my workload. If I have an event the night before, I may sleep till eight; similarly if I have a long day ahead, I might wake up at 6am.
What’s the first thing you do?
The first thing I do is check my phone – I know it’s not great, but it’s become part of a routine. I’ve tried using a normal alarm clock so that I don’t have my phone in the room, but it has somehow creeped back in. After that though, I do some breathing exercises for about five minutes.
Do you have electronics such as TV or phones in the bedroom?
Never a TV – I don’t like the idea of my bedroom having any other purpose than to sleep in (and possibly write from time to time). I definitely do keep my phone. I know I shouldn’t, but, living alone, it makes me feel safer having something I can instantly go to in case something happens or someone breaks in.
How does your working day run? Do you work from a home office or go into an office?
I work from home, but, truthfully, no one day is the same. I do have writing days that are pretty much writing non-stop from morning till night, but mostly the week will have an event I need to do or a podcast to record. On top of that there are other meetings for different collaborations. I am mostly happy working from home because I’ve set my home up so that it looks nice and is tidy. I don’t think I could work in an open plan office-share because the noise would be too distracting. I am looking to join a member’s club, however, as sometimes it’s good to have a space to meet people. Plus I can then work from there and not have to lug everything around all the time.
Do you take a lunch? What do you normally have? Do you take a full hour or eat on the go?
I do normally do a lunch break, but it depends. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk in nearby Bushy Park if I have a full on writing day, or I’ll fit my workout in the gym over that time. I tend to eat while sitting down if I can – I hate eating while on the go. Normally I’ll have a salad, grilled salmon and pesto, or leftovers from the night before.
What media do you consume during the day? Do you listen to podcasts, read a paper or go to a news site? Which professional journals/sites do you read?
In the morning I tend to read The Times, Telegraph, Guardian, other lifestyle sites like HuffPost, The Cut. I invariably buy the saturday Guardian but the size of it (and my inability to read it all) often stresses me out. I like podcasts but I can’t have a lot on the go or it’s an overload – my two favourites are The Griefcast and Happy Place, followed closely by Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail.
Do you take work home with you and work evenings or weekends?
Being freelance, the boundaries are really blurred and I view being freelance as owning a business. Businesses take a while to set up and they require huge amounts of energy and dedication so, unfortunately, I don’t have the same definitive periods of time off. However, I do have more freedom. Depending on my workload it might go into the evening, and I definitely work one day on the weekend. What I tend to do however is save the creative work for the weekend, which tends to be more fun.
What time do you clock off from work?
I absolutely don’t work later than 9pm – any later than that and my brain’s productivity just melts into cheese.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
One of three things – either go to the gym, read a book or watch Netflix.
What time do you usually go to bed?
I try and maintain the same bedtime – but again, it depends if I have an event – usually I start getting ready for bed at 10pm, and the idea is that by 11pm, I’m asleep.