A Day in the Life of Max Ufberg

Max Ufberg is the digital director of Pacific Standard, where he oversees the magazine’s online editorial operations. He joined the magazine in 2015 and has since written about a range of topics including addiction, the alt-right, and Big Oil. Most of his time, of course, is spent editing, and he’s edited stories that have appeared in the Best American series and have been finalists for national awards. Max’s writing has also appeared in The New YorkerWiredOutside, and The Washington Post, among other publications. He studied English literature at Temple University. Follow Max on Twitter @Max_Uf.


Max UfbergTerence Patrick

Max Ufberg


What I’m working on:

Right now (I’m writing this at 10:10 p.m.) I’m editing a longer story by a freelancer. Most of my day is spent editing web pieces from staff and contract writers, which means I have to save the one-offs for nights and weekends.

Where I work:

The Pacific Standard office is in downtown Santa Barbara, California. Usually I alternate between my (very cluttered) desk, a big couch that sits at the opposite end of the office, and a shared standing desk. I try to take advantage of the weather and work on our patio, although I do that less frequently in the winter. (I know, I know—I’m from the East Coast. It’s not that warm though, I swear.)

Daily routine:

I wake up around 7:30 and check the news to see the headlines. Because we have writers all across the country, there are usually a few messages from writers who are a few hours ahead, either checking in to see if/how to tackle a story or letting me know they’ve filed something. I typically spend about 30 to 40 minutes, while getting ready and eating breakfast, editing something short that I’ll publish to the site before I leave for the office.

Terence Patrick

I get to the office between 9:30 and 9:45 most days. My mornings are spent assigning and editing daily news stories—pieces that respond to the news, for example, or quick reported stories. On a typical day we’ve probably published two to four news stories before lunch.

After lunch I’ll work on more heavily reported stories and columns to anchor the next day’s morning lineup. By the day’s end we’ve got between eight and twelve stories scheduled to run.

Most productive part of my day:

Usually post-lunch, after the onslaught of daily news, when I’m able to focus on the mid-length stories and really offer some more substantive edits. I love the quick stuff too, but that can sometimes feel like more of a churn.

Most essential ritual or habit:

I always have a cup of coffee when arriving at the office and take a moment to catch up, a bit more thoroughly, on what everyone is talking about on the internet.

Mobile device:

A cracked iPhone 6.


A scuffed MacBook Air.

Don't miss a thing. Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

Essential software/apps/productivity tools:

I always work best with music, so Spotify is pretty key for me. Aside from that, I still use a notepad to scribble all my notes and such.

Favorite time waster/procrastination habit:

As much of a professional resource as Twitter is, it’s also a huge source of distraction for me. I can also spend a lot of time reading basketball analysis. I listen to a lot of non-news podcasts (like WTF, How Stuff Works, and Reply All, to name a few), but I’m not sure if those are really time wasters; I think you need to step outside of your day-to-day consumption patterns in order to find the most interesting and unique ideas.

My reading habits:

Newspaper-wise, I read The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. I also scan a variety of blogs (Lawfare, Marginal Revolution) and magazine/analysis (Vox, The Atlantic) sites throughout the day.

I try to read at least 15 pages of a book every night. Right now I’m reading The Mind of a Mnemonist, by A. R. Luria, which is a short case-history of Solomon Shereshevsky, a sort of professional mnemonist operating in the 1920s.

Sleep schedule:

I try to get to bed around midnight. It’s not so infrequent that I pass out reading beforehand though.

Please Support The Open Notebook

High-quality science journalism has never been more essential than it is today, or more under threat. The Open Notebook is the only publication dedicated to helping science journalists improve their skills. About 12,000 people visit TON every month, from almost every country in the world. If you believe our work is valuable, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution or a recurring donation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *