A Day in the Life of Jane J. Lee


Jane J. Lee Courtesy of Jane J. Lee

What I’m working on:

I recently left my position as a senior news editor with Nature magazine and moved back to Los Angeles to be closer to family. So I split my time between working on freelance assignments, looking for a staff position, reconnecting with former colleagues in the area, and hunting for stories to pitch to various publications.

I also took on co-chair duties for the NASW Diversity Committee a couple of months ago, so I’m working on finding my footing there.

Where I work:

I’m currently in a suburb of Los Angeles. I get together with some friends to work at their place a couple of times a week. We’re all in different professions (one is a real estate agent and the other is a college professor), so we can’t distract one another with shop talk, but I still get the benefits of having coworkers. Plus, they have a dog who isn’t shy about asking for cuddles. Otherwise, I’m at a desk at my place.

Daily routine:

The holidays kind of upended my schedule, but normally, I’m awake by 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. I’ll stay in bed for about 15 to 30 minutes scanning the news, toggling between the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Then I’ll get up, get ready, and have some breakfast (sometimes with my mom, if our schedules align). I’m working by 9:00 a.m., and I break for lunch by noon or 1:00 p.m. I’ll eat with my dad if I can. Then it’s back to work until about 5:00 p.m., depending on what I’m doing.

Photo of Jane's niece's shoes, and some boots on the background.
My niece is only 15 months old and she’s already rocking the cutest kicks. Jane J. Lee

I’ll work into the evenings and on the weekends if I let myself, so I’m trying to get better about balancing that. Babysitting my niece helps to keep me away from work on the weekends.

Most productive part of my day:

The morning. I’m not a morning person by nature, but the professions I’ve chosen (marine biology and now, journalism) have forced me to become one. Catching a ship for a research cruise usually meant that I had to be up before the crack of dawn, and life at sea always starts early. And as a news editor with Nature, I routinely had early mornings to better align with the London headquarters’ office hours.

After about 2:00 p.m., the coffee wears off and I’m much more easily distracted. I try and use that propensity for good instead of evil though—I’ll check in on various news publications and see what the folks I’m following on Twitter have to say.

Most essential ritual or habit:

Not checking my work email as soon as I wake up. Can a non-action be an essential ritual? I developed a habit of immediately opening my work email when I was at Nature in case any fires had cropped up on London time. But cracking open my eyelids and diving straight into emails probably isn’t the healthiest way to live, so I’m working at not doing that. Checking the news helps to redirect my itchy pointer finger away from the email app on my phone.

Favorite note-taking techniques/tools:

I want to concentrate on an interview instead of worrying about whether my technology is working, so I tend to keep things simple. For in-person interviews, I’ll record the conversation on my iPhone and take notes in a reporter’s notebook. If I’m talking to someone over the phone or Skype, I’ll type my notes into a Google doc.

I’ll stash copies of my notes in different places (on my computer, in the cloud, in a notebook) so that I have backups in case my laptop dies or the internet burns down.

How I keep track of my to-do list:

I keep my to-do list in a small notebook, where I can tick off my tasks as I complete them. I use colorful sticky notes for reminders and the calendar app on my phone for appointments.

Essential software/apps/productivity tools:

My notes go in Google docs and I keep track of sources and PIOs in an Excel spreadsheet. Otter AI is on my list to try when it comes to transcription. The calendar app on my phone keeps me on time for interviews or meetings.

Favorite time waster/procrastination habit:

I’ll watch YouTube clips of late show monologues or cake decorating videos. I’m not a hard-core baker or anything, but watching someone frost a cake is oddly mesmerizing. I also live near some hiking trails, so I can go for a quick walk and snap a couple of photos of a gorgeous sunset.

My reading habits:

Before I became a journalist, I used to tear through several fiction or nonfiction books a week. Now, I mostly read news publications and journal articles, and I keep a growing list of books that I hope to get to one day.

I have been trying to finish Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain for years. It’s an interesting book, so I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to get through it. I’ll pick it up, read a chapter or two, then have to put it down for some reason or another. I don’t circle back to it until weeks or months later, by which time I can’t quite remember what I’ve read, so I start from the beginning. I’ve never had this problem with any other book.

Sleep schedule:

During the weekdays, bedtime is usually 11:00 p.m., but on the weekends, anything goes.


Skip to content