How To Manage Being A Managing Editor

For those who don’t know me, I have a lot of little side gigs outside of being a master’s student and my work as an advisor on campus. Three of my multiple little side-ventures are in the world of editing. I am the co-founder and managing editor of this blog, The Poetics Project, as well as the managing editor for The Socialist, the Socialist Party USA’s national magazine. This summer I was also selected as the lead editor of the Editorial Board of Pomona Valley Review’s 11th issue.

So how do I do it? Am I some insane monster that never sleeps? Am I in it for the money? Wait, is there money? Hold on, I’m off track now with the hypothetical questions. Do I just half-ass all of my roles and call it a day? Do I have no life to speak of? Am I a lonely person? Do my academics suffer? Do I have no hobbies?

With the exception of the first question, all of the answers to the above are no. I’ve literally been asked these questions multiple times, so let me go into each one and elaborate a bit on my answer of no.

Am I some insane monster that never sleeps?

Okay, I totally sleep. I don’t know why this is always one of the first questions people ask when they find out that I’m a busy person (then again, maybe it’s the bags under my eyes. That’s just how I look!). Sleep is important and we all need it to function; in fact, when I don’t sleep, I get a terrible case of what I like to call homophones—i.e., I start writing in homophone (think they’re/their/there or your/you’re or new/knew, etc.). I need to sleep just like a normal person—although, as a grad student, eight solid hours is generally something I never get. I do get a good six to seven hours of sleep a night most of the time, and I enjoy strong coffee in the day time to make up for that extra hour I never seem to be able to manage (like, even on the weekends—I may just not be the kind of person that sleeps for eight hours at night).

Am I in it for the money? Wait, is there money?

I work as a managing editor because I want to, not for money. Even in my day job, I get to help a lot of people and that makes me happy. I could never just work for a paycheck—not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’ve done it in the past and I’ve been terribly unhappy doing it. Also, there’s no money in what I do on the side. The Poetics Project, The Socialist, and Pomona Valley Review are completely free to users and contain no ads, so we don’t generate any revenue. All of my projects are projects of passion. I know there are probably managing editor positions I could find that would pay me, but I don’t know if I’d love their content as much as I love the content at the other places I volunteer at, nor do I know if I want to make managing editing into a career over being a potential teacher in the future.

Do I just half-ass all of my roles and call it a day?

I don’t half-ass anything that I do—my students, my classmates, my teachers, and my coworkers can all attest to that. Instead, what I do is I dedicate a set amount of time and work whole-ass during that time limit. I always give myself plenty of time to get something done, so I haven’t run into the issue of being late on a deadline or missing an important date as far as being a managing editor goes. I think the amount of experience I have in these roles also helps me set realistic time expectations for projects on myself so I never have to rush.

Do I have no life to speak of?

I mean, I do stuff. Here are some of the activities I’ve done just this week outside of work and managing editing: gone out to dinner three times, gone to a birthday gathering at a brewery, went to a bar to hangout and hear a band, gone to get coffee like three times with friends, watched five movies on Netflix, beat Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (yes, I play video games now and again) on my 3DS, and I’m going on a date later tonight after finishing this post. I’ve also gone grocery shopping, cooked many of the meals I’ve eaten this week, and cuddled with my cat. So I live, and I do things just like everyone else—I swear.

Am I a lonely person?

See above—I do a lot of things with a lot of people. I see my best friend almost every week. I hang out with Mel (my co-blogger) like twice a month now that she’s back in Southern California. I’m taking one of my long-time friends to see Shakespeare in the Park next weekend. I see other random friends and get coffee and dinner or just hangout on a fairly regular basis as well. I’m pretty content as far as my interactions with other humans go. I also have the appearance of a very outgoing person but I have times when I like to just sit and write and be introverted as well, so even when I don’t see people for maybe a week (outside of work), I’m still fine and don’t feel lonely. My side-gigs don’t keep me from seeing people as much as me just not wanting to see people sometimes keeps me from seeing people.

Do your academics suffer?

I’m a graduate student with a 3.95 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and I’m presenting two papers at two different conferences in the fall. I do good at English in school.

Do you have no hobbies?

I do! Anyone who knows me knows I crochet, a lot. I’ve even done blog posts in the past on here on bookish crocheting patterns. I also went vegan recently, after being vegetarian for something like five years, so I spend a lot of time researching food, what vitamins I should be taking, and cooking (and packing my lunch because it’s hard to eat vegan when you don’t feel like having a salad for every meal). I also read a lot, for pleasure and not just for research, and play video games (mostly in the summer so they don’t distract me from school work). And, heck, writing blog posts like this would also be considered a hobby by some.

So here’s what a lot of you are probably thinking now: if all of that is true, how do you manage to do all of these projects then?

I am very, very good at time management. Seriously. I use a lot of spreadsheets to keep track of everything that I do. We use them at PVR, we use them here at The Poetics Project, and we use them for The Socialist. Since 90 percent of what I do as a managing editor is keep track of other people’s writing and pieces that are being copyedited, knowing where those pieces are and what’s going on with them is an imperative part of my job. Even in my own writing, I keep notes and spreadsheets to help me keep track of what I’m doing in my personal writing as well.

I try to enjoy the time I dedicate to my work as well. I do find what I read and edit interesting, but filling out all of those spreadsheets or like, checking off boxes and sending out emails or coding can sometimes be benign—I’ll admit to that. But I generally, when doing the more mundane tasks related to being a managing editor, have something open in a side window like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, or even some music playing in the background to not only keep myself on task but to keep myself entertained in some otherwise boring tasks.

My friends, like me, are busy people and many of them write as well. I often have what I like to call working dates with my friends—we’ll go to someone’s house with our laptops or out to a coffee shop, have some caffeine, and sit there and work on our own projects side-by-side. The best part of this arrangement isn’t just having someone to work with, but having someone to take breaks with and grab a bite to eat or watch a movie with.

I honestly don’t waste a lot of time, and I rely on my calendar a lot to make sure I’m free and don’t double book myself with the many projects I work on or time I spend with my friends. But I manage and I enjoy what I do. While I may step down from some of my roles in the future to dedicate myself to PhD applications and my thesis construction and defense, I’ll still be managing a heavy load this summer. I’ll not only survive but thrive while working on them.

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