Life often feels like a teeter-totter for freelance court reporters.  Here are a few tips from a 30-year plus veteran.  
court reporter's life as a tetter totterCourt reporting is a unique profession – no nine to five here!  Freelance court reporters set their own schedules, but when working are often subject to changing expectations and demands.  Example:  a discovery is booked from 10 am until 5 pm, but only goes one hour; a deposition is scheduled from 9 am to 5 pm, and goes until 8 pm; a full day hearing suddenly becomes an overnight expedite.

The ups and downs, backwards and forwards life of a court reporting professional depends on flexibility, stress management and an ability to change “on a dime.”  How can freelancers manage an ever-shifting work life?

Keep your schedule clear on work days

Wherever possible, try to not book yourself on any appointments or nights out on your work days, unless your appointments are very early in the morning or later in the evening.  While we all need to keep up with our commitments in other areas of our life, keeping work days as clear as possible will absolutely destress your life if your job goes late, or a transcript suddenly is expedited.  Booking a dinner out with friends at 7:30, as opposed to, say, 6:30 will help ensure you can make it if your job goes late.

Create a backup plan on work days

Daycare, children’s events (hockey, soccer, music, dance…) and your pets don’t rely on your schedule – they have their own!  Creating a network of people you can count on to help you out is key to destressing when your job is going sideways!  Be it neighbours, other parents on your child’s team, or family members, having a network that you can call on at a moment’s notice is very important.  For example, if you get that spider sense that a job may go late, plan ahead for a backup “just in case.”   This will ease your mind throughout the day and stop the worrying from the get-go.

Find as many service providers as possible with flexible times and cancellation policies

We all hate cancellations – particularly when they happen to us.  As freelance court reporters, we know what that feels like (we’ve all worn the Cancellation Crown, haven’t we?)  When using your own service providers, such as the barber/salon, massage, nails, etc., try to find services with flexible cancellation policies.  Once you have a service provider, make sure you take the time to explain the unusual job you do; often, once you’ve established a good rapport, service providers will work with you to turn that “cancellation” into another booking at no charge.

All of the above suggestions will help alleviate some of the stress experienced by court reporters whose schedule can quickly go awry.  What suggestions do you have?  We’d love your comments!