Insider Interview: An Ecologist

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Every month, we feature an insider interview to give you insights into what it’s like to be a freelancer, an aspiring freelancer, or a work-from-homer. Last month, we were joined by writer and speaker Sally Jenkins. Today, we’re delighted to be joined by ecologist Jodie.

Thanks for chatting with us today Jodie. So, what do you do?

I’m an ecological consultant – I advise planners, housebuilders, councils etc on the potential impacts of development on wildlife and habitats – and how to avoid them!

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

The variety – I spend a lot of time outdoors in spring and summer visiting sites and doing wildlife surveys, then hibernate indoors writing up reports in the winter. I enjoy the seasonality of it.

What have your biggest obstacles been?

Overcoming imposter syndrome – I changed career in my mid-twenties and often felt that I had no right to be in the room with ecologists who had been birdwatching and catching bugs since they could walk! It took me a good few years to feel comfortable calling myself anything with an ‘-ist’ on the end.

What has been your biggest success?

Convincing my employer to let me move two hours away from the office and still keep my job! I really appreciate the trust that they put in me. I generally work from home three days a week and in the office for two days, staying overnight in between. It’s a great mix, as the office days tend to be really busy catching up with people and attending meetings and surveys, and then I get three whole days to myself afterwards to take a breath and actually get some work done.

What’s an average day like for you?

On my working from home days, I tend to get up at around 8am and potter in the mornings, then sit down to work at around 10am. I could be writing reports, talking to clients, planning surveys, analysing data, or creating maps. I have lunch at around 2-3pm, then try to down tools and head out to the gym or to meet friends at around 5.30pm. If I have an urgent deadline, I’ll extend my day by starting earlier or finishing later, and occasionally I do a couple of hours in front of the TV in the evenings if I really need to catch up on something boring like data entry or invoicing.

What’s your work-life balance like?

Right now, it’s really good. I have been working from home for over two years now and have settled into a routine that works for me. A big part has been learning to switch off at the end of the day instead of saying ‘just one more hour won’t hurt’ – that soon becomes a slippery slope! I find that having a reason to leave the house for a few hours really helps to break that cycle – out of sight, out of mind.

How does working from home compare to working in an office job?

It’s liberating – I love the freedom and lack of interruptions. However, it can be isolating unless you make a conscious effort to build social activities into your routine, and I do miss the buzz you get from working with colleagues, especially in a crisis! I find that my two office days recharge my batteries and give me a motivational boost – seeing people face to face and catching up on our projects reminds me of why I love my job in the first place.

Do you ever struggle with motivation or self-discipline working from home?

Definitely, especially if I’ve been away for the weekend and just want some time to do some washing and sort myself out! But on the other hand, I have days when I’m way more productive than I would have been in the office, so it all balances out.

What is the best thing about working from home?

Impossible to choose one thing! But I suppose it all comes down to the freedom and flexibility of being able to choose your own hours. No more stressing about doctors’ appointments or deliveries, or fighting the rush hour traffic to get to a gym class after work. Oh, and I control the temperature! 🙂

If you had one top tip for people who work from home, what would it be?

Get a cat! … No seriously, I would spend some time setting up your workspace and routine. I like to have breakfast in front of the morning news, wash up, get properly dressed (no PJs!), and once I take my cup of tea through to my office and put the radio on, it’s the start of my day. Be prepared for a bit of trial and error, as it will take a while to find out what works best for you.

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Would you like to feature in a freelance insider interview? If so, get in touch!

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