My mentee asked me to dredge up a few ideas on how to deal with working weekends. These are all ideas I used while covering scads of stuff for The Miami Herald, The Boston Globe and the St. Pete Times. This post is pretty much for younger journalists, so if you’ve come here for newlywed or Senegal stuff, just scroll down.
Time management 101 for younger journos.
1. If you have to cover meetings, take extra notes. Those extra notes will become stories for next week or even tomorrow. And you won’t have to call anyone back to get fresh quotes because you already wrote them down.
2. Stay late for each meeting. (Unless you’re on deadline, that is) Get quotes from the people who stay behind. This way it eliminates you needing to call them tomorrow for comment.
3. Use slow Saturdays and Sundays to dig up enterprise stories. Have coffee with your sources. Attend neighborhood events. If you hang out during regular “fun times” you will definitely “happen upon” a story. Plus, it gets you away from your desk on a weekend.
4. When you can, prepare to stay at work as long as necessary. If you have somewhere to be, say, a wedding, then you need to talk with all editors at least a week in advance. Tell them you want to finish your work early. Then, to be on the safe side, write an extra story with all those extra notes that you took. Turn that story in and tell your editor: “I did this just in case you needed more content. No big deal if you don’t need it.”
5. Use your sick days. If you are tired of being at work, if you are weepy, if you have cramps, if you have a migraine… Just call in sick. Stay home. Watch tv. You’ll feel better later. You will not lose your job because you have a menstrual cycle. And, your guy bosses will not want to discuss it with you.
6. Schedule your hair appointments and your gym appointments for either early in the day or late at night. As a Black woman, I got my hair done at 8 a.m. on Saturdays before I reported in for my 1 p.m. shift. It never worked for me to try to get hair services after work, because usually someone got murdered on the day of my hair appointment.
7. Pack a few apples or sandwiches. Leave them in your car in a cooler. You don’t always have time to go to McDs to grab a sandwich. You’ll be happier knowing that an apple awaits.
8. If you live in a cold weather climate and it’s winter, stop by the grocery store between assignments. Leave your milk and whatnot in the car. Take it out when you get home. This saves time on a separate grocery store trip.
9. Your life does belong to your newsroom. That’s just how it is in the beginning. And no, it doesn’t really get much better unless you switch to features or gardening. Editors have it hard too. But it’s ok because we all love the thrill of the chase and the thrill of the story. However, when you tire of always being on call or when you begin to have your own family, you will likely make different decisions. No matter what you do, it’ll always work out. So don’t worry about it too much.