This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Day In The Life Of Rae Johnston, Trailblazing TV Journalist And Organisation Super-Woman!

A Day In The Life

Rae Johnston is moving on up in the world. In fact, she’s been at the top of her game for a while. The groundbreaking journalist is an award-winning STEM reporter, the first-ever Science and Technology editor for NITV and SBS, a proud Wiradjuri woman and an occasional voice actor – amongst MANY other things. Before all that, she was the first female editor of Gizmodo Australia. And this doesn’t even cover off her whole resume.

But with a fast-paced career like this, comes a ridiculously jam-packed schedule. From waking up at 5am to getting her inbox down to zero (sometimes), we followed Rae around for a day, sussing her down-to-the-minute routine to learn just how she gets it all done. (Hint: with the help of some mind-blowing productivity tips!)

4th September, 2020

SBS and NITV’s first science and tech editor, Rae Johnston. Photo – Alisha Gore.

‘I used to be a terrible morning person, but now I love it. It’s so peaceful,’ says Rae. Photo – Alisha Gore.

Rae has been working from home recently, and spends the first hour of the day clearing her inbox. At 9am the NITV team has an editorial meeting where everyone pitches their stories for the next 24 hours. Photo – Alisha Gore.

Once she’s gone on air or pre-recorded from the TV studio, Rae heads into the voice-over or radio booth to record a podcast episode or promo voice-overs. Photo – Alisha Gore.

Rae has just finished Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener, an acclaimed memoir about the author’s experiences as a woman working in a tech startup in Silicon Valley. ‘Check Yo’Self’ journal by K.Rae Designs. Photo – Alisha Gore.

Sasha Gattermayr
Friday 4th September 2020

‘My life basically  looks like a game of Tetris in a Google Calendar.’ – Rae Johnston

Rae Johnston is an incessantly curious person. She has a system-minded brain and a constant thirst for knowledge, the perfect combo for a groundbreaking journalist at the top of her game. She is also a lifelong gamer and self-confessed geek, two passions that primed her for success in her first TV gig – a role as a video game TV presenter. This was the start of her windy, non-traditional route to journalism, one that involved no formal study and a LOT of on-the-spot learning.

‘I went through so much hate and harassment online during my early career, as one of the few female video game journalists in the country (and the world) that I’m pretty much indestructible at this point,’ she says. ‘There is very little about my own life that I keep private – I believe that by sharing the ups and downs in my life it helps break down the idea you have to be “perfect” on social media.’

Now, she’s at NITV and SBS, as the network’s first Science and Technology editor, a role which sees her producing content for television, podcasts and digital channels, as well as hosting tech and science-related panels and events around the country.

‘I love creating processes and efficient ways of working,’ says Rae, identifying herself as a ‘routine person’. ‘That’s always the biggest challenge of helping to create a new role – figuring out how it will work within the existing business – but it’s also my favourite part. Present me a problem, I’ll find five solutions and categorise them by effectiveness, resources required, and time needed to implement them.’

She’s not kidding. The big reveal during our interview (which is a surprise to no one once you’ve seen Rae’s credentials) is that she’s a fastidiously organised person. Between uninstalling social media desktop apps, scheduling her workdays down to 30-minute increments, and some pretty serious spreadsheets I would love to get my hands on for my own life admin purposes, Rae has some of the most impressive productivity hacks going around.

But when it comes down to it, for Rae everything rests on the four ‘wells’: well-rested, well-fed, well-caffeinated and well-organised. I’m obsessed with that mantra.

FIRST THING

I set my alarm for 5am every weekday. On Saturdays I let myself wake up naturally, but it’s usually no later than 7am whether I like it or not. On Sundays, I’m up early again to get ready for a hike.

On weekdays, the first thing I do is throw on my activewear and head to the gym. I like to do classes, whatever is happening, to mix it up. It’s usually a combination of yoga, boxing, and reformer pilates. On Saturdays, I grab a coffee with my husband and son and take our dog to the park. On Sundays I pack my hiking backpack with a thermos of tea and head off to a National Park for the day.

I used to be a terrible morning person, but now I love it. It’s so peaceful.

MORNING

Most days I work from home all day. If I’m hosting an event, or have a filming day in the studio I’ll drive. I bought a car for the first time this year, after 20 years of receiving not-worth-trading-in-hand-me-downs from family. I love driving.

I get back from the gym about 7am. I’ll pop my headphones in and catch up on news podcasts while I do some housework and have a coffee, then at 8am my workday begins.

I like to spend the first hour of the day clearing my inbox, then at 9am the NITV team has an editorial meeting where we all pitch our stories for the day. I could be writing an article for online, producing a TV news segment, scripting an explainer for our current affairs program, or preparing for a podcast episode. Working across all platforms means I have so much flexibility with where stories get to go.

For the rest of the morning, I’m usually making TV and radio appearances as well as chasing and conducting interviews on Zoom for my upcoming stories. It’s my peak research time.

I’ve been getting better at having breakfast every day. Working from home means I can cook something decent to eat while I’m doing my research.

LUNCHTIME

I break for lunch at 12pm every day, and try to eat in the sun as well. I’m following the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet at the moment – it makes me feel better, and gives me more energy.

AFTERNOON

If it’s a studio day, I’ll drive to the SBS/NITV studios after lunch. There I’ll usually head straight into hair and makeup, where I edit my scripts from my phone.

Once I’ve gone on air or pre-recorded from the TV studio, I’ll head into the voice-over or radio booth to record a podcast episode or promo voice-overs.

Then I like to clear my inbox again. Some days, I can get through all my emails.

My final task of the workday is to sort out my schedule for the following day. My life basically looks like a game of Tetris in a Google Calendar.

I usually have a big afternoon slump after recording – being on-air fills me with so much adrenaline, once it leaves my body I just want to nap. I usually have a piece of fruit and a cup of tea to give me a boost at around 4pm.

EVENING

I officially finish at 6pm, but sometimes I have radio or TV appearances in the evening. I find it hard to get any writing work done once the sun sets. I’m great in daylight hours, but as soon as it gets dark, my brain turns to mush.

Myself, my husband and my son take turns to cook – it’s great. If I’m cooking, I’m usually roasting a chicken or making a big pot of soup. My son is the burger specialist, and my husband loves to smoke meat, it’s amazing.

I love to knit while we watch a movie at nighttime. My nan taught me to knit when I was little, and I recently picked it back up again. It’s something to do with my hands that isn’t mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.

I do one of two things to switch off – I hike, and I play video games. Both force me to focus on one thing, don’t allow me to multitask, and show me new and wonderful places with friends and family.

LAST THING

I’m usually in bed by 9:30pm. I’ll start to wind down at 8:30pm with a hot shower, my skincare routine, some comfy PJs, a herbal tea and a book. I’ve started journaling recently, too.

I have clinical depression, and getting enough sleep every night helps me manage it. If I have a bad night, it can throw me off for a week. Sleep is very important to me, and I need a lot of it.

This Week

Architecture

A Stunning Coastal Home, Created From A Revolutionary Building Material

This house by FMD Architects is built using CLT (cross laminated timber) – a revolutionary, sustainable building material.

Architecture

The House That Lived

When bushfires ravaged the NSW South Coast this summer, this house by Collins Pennington Architects survived.

News

These Closed-Loop Tote Bags Are The Real Deal!

The winner of 2019 TDF Design Awards Textile Design category, Georgina Whigham, debuts a new collection of zero waste denim bags with local
Sasha Aarons
  1 hour ago

Dream Job

Creating Captivating Content With The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’s Digital Marketing And Media Coordinator, Victoria Ngu

The digital marketing and media co-ordinator of one of Australia's oldest public gardens fills us in on her dream job, from good email etiqu...
Sasha Gattermayr

TDF Design Awards

10 Awe-Inspiring Creative Collaborations From Across Australia

From furniture made with a 17th-century craft technique to a culturally significant war memorial, these are the finalists in the Collaborati...
Sasha Aarons

News

The ULTIMATE Friends And Family Cookbook From Illustrator Extraordinaire, Alice Oehr

The Melbourne-based creative took the opportunity of lockdown to finish her 6-year long project – a nation-wide recipe collection!

TDF Design Awards

You’re Invited To The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020!

Join us on November 5th at 7pm for our online ceremony as we celebrate the finalists and reveal all the winners – and WIN a bespoke sculpt...

Shopping

Dreamy New Homewares From Maison Balzac To Level Up Your Dinner Table

Is it just us, or is coloured glassware having a moment? This Sydney-based brand takes the trend to new heights!
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

This Sydney House Takes The High Ground

A previously granted development approval allowed the sandstone ridge on this Seaforth site to be cut away, but Stafford Architecture had ot...

Design Eye

Studio Martin on Refined Rattan

Emerging design duo Lauren and Amanda Martin share their advice on using rattan furniture in contemporary interiors, in partnership with DOM...

Creative People

Australia's Original Instagram Secondhand Furniture Seller

We chat with OG Instagram seller Pip Newell of Curated Spaces, about how she grew her business out of her living room to a network of more t...

On The Market

The Colourful Beach House Of Kip&Co’s Co-Founder Is For Sale!

The renovated 1970s beach house in Sorrento, Victoria, of Kip&Co's Kate Heppell has hit the market.
Amelia Barnes
  12 hours ago

Studio Visit

Kerryn Levy's Wonderfully Wonky Ceramics

A studio visit with the Adelaide-based ceramicist known for her distinctly collectible statement candelabras.
Sasha Gattermayr

Furniture

A Lush New Line Of Contemporary Furniture From Jardan

The ‘Living Form’ collection reinterprets Jardan’s classic designs, with traditional Australian textures - and some brand new silhouet...
Sasha Gattermayr
  4 hours ago

Homes

A Rustic, Inner-City Family Home Of 33 Years

Inside a Cornish/Spanish/Greek style home terrace renovation – in Port Melbourne!

‘If it’s a studio day, I’ll drive to the SBS/NITV studios after lunch. There I’ll usually head straight into hair and makeup, where I edit my scripts from my phone,’ Rae explains. Photo – Alisha Gore.

Flooded with so much adrenaline after being on air, Rae usually experiences a classic 4pm slump. She usualy has a piece of fruit and a cup of tea to keep her going. Photo supplied courtesy of SBS.

Rae officially finishes at 6pm, but sometimes she slots in radio or TV appearances in the evening. Photo supplied courtesy of SBS.

Right now I’m listening to, watching, and reading…

I can never listen to, watch or read just one thing at a time.

So right now I’m listening to a few podcasts: Curtain by Amy McQuire and Martin Hodgson, the Wall Street Journal Tech Briefing and Shameless are my current regulars.

While in isolation I’ve been re-watching Parks and Recreation – I needed something comforting. I’ve also been watching Doom Patrol, an incredible comic series adaptation with Brendan Fraser.

I just finished reading Anna Weiner’s Uncanny Valley, a memoir of her experiences in the early days of Silicon Valley. I’m currently reading Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia, a collection of stories written by some of my NITV colleagues and edited by fellow Wiradjuri woman Anita Heiss. It really highlights the diversity of experience we have.

I get my best work done when…

I’m well-rested, well-fed, well-caffeinated and well-organised. 

My productivity tool/tip is… 

I’d be lost without my calendars. I have a year-to-a-view spreadsheet that I use to block out big event hosting days, and I use the weekly view on my digital calendar to schedule my workdays in 30-minute increments. It sounds like a lot, but it works for me, and keeps me on track.

I’ve uninstalled Twitter and Facebook from my phone, and only access them on desktop during work hours. I also set limits on Instagram so I don’t waste time scrolling.

A philosophy I live and work by is… 

It used to be “never hope harder than you work”, and then I experienced burnout. Now it’s more along the lines of “do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Everyone is “winging” it. Your best is always good enough. 

Something I’ve learned the hard way is… 

The importance of scheduling in down-time as well as work. I’m still learning where my limits are, and sometimes overextend myself, but I’m getting better.

Keep up with Rae’s fast-paced life on Instagram!

View Comments

Similar Stories

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Elizabeth Kulas, Host And Producer Of The 7am Podcast

The host and producer of Schwartz Media's fantastic new daily podcast tells us what it takes to produce a podcast – every single day!

Family

Cormach Evans and Coco Eke On Aboriginal Excellence, Pandemic Parenting And Their No Dickheads Policy

We visit the inspiring pair of not-for-profit leaders and their young family at home on the sun-soaked shores of Jan Juc.
Ashe Davenport

Dream Job

Reporting The News In 2020, With Sydney-Based New York Times Journalist Isabella Kwai

How the young journalist scored this dream gig, and what it's like working for one of the world's biggest news organisations in what has bee...

This Week

Creative People

Australia's Original Instagram Secondhand Furniture Seller

We chat with OG Instagram seller Pip Newell of Curated Spaces, about how she grew her business out of her living room to a network of more t...

Architecture

The House That Lived

When bushfires ravaged the NSW South Coast this summer, this house by Collins Pennington Architects survived.

News

The ULTIMATE Friends And Family Cookbook From Illustrator Extraordinaire, Alice Oehr

The Melbourne-based creative took the opportunity of lockdown to finish her 6-year long project – a nation-wide recipe collection!

Design Eye

Studio Martin on Refined Rattan

Emerging design duo Lauren and Amanda Martin share their advice on using rattan furniture in contemporary interiors, in partnership with DOM...

On The Market

The Colourful Beach House Of Kip&Co’s Co-Founder Is For Sale!

The renovated 1970s beach house in Sorrento, Victoria, of Kip&Co's Kate Heppell has hit the market.
Amelia Barnes
  12 hours ago

Shopping

Dreamy New Homewares From Maison Balzac To Level Up Your Dinner Table

Is it just us, or is coloured glassware having a moment? This Sydney-based brand takes the trend to new heights!
Sasha Gattermayr

TDF Design Awards

You’re Invited To The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020!

Join us on November 5th at 7pm for our online ceremony as we celebrate the finalists and reveal all the winners – and WIN a bespoke sculpt...

Dream Job

Creating Captivating Content With The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’s Digital Marketing And Media Coordinator, Victoria Ngu

The digital marketing and media co-ordinator of one of Australia's oldest public gardens fills us in on her dream job, from good email etiqu...
Sasha Gattermayr

Furniture

A Lush New Line Of Contemporary Furniture From Jardan

The ‘Living Form’ collection reinterprets Jardan’s classic designs, with traditional Australian textures - and some brand new silhouet...
Sasha Gattermayr
  4 hours ago

Homes

A Rustic, Inner-City Family Home Of 33 Years

Inside a Cornish/Spanish/Greek style home terrace renovation – in Port Melbourne!

TDF Design Awards

10 Awe-Inspiring Creative Collaborations From Across Australia

From furniture made with a 17th-century craft technique to a culturally significant war memorial, these are the finalists in the Collaborati...
Sasha Aarons

Architecture

A Stunning Coastal Home, Created From A Revolutionary Building Material

This house by FMD Architects is built using CLT (cross laminated timber) – a revolutionary, sustainable building material.

Studio Visit

Kerryn Levy's Wonderfully Wonky Ceramics

A studio visit with the Adelaide-based ceramicist known for her distinctly collectible statement candelabras.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

These Closed-Loop Tote Bags Are The Real Deal!

The winner of 2019 TDF Design Awards Textile Design category, Georgina Whigham, debuts a new collection of zero waste denim bags with local
Sasha Aarons
  1 hour ago

Architecture

This Sydney House Takes The High Ground

A previously granted development approval allowed the sandstone ridge on this Seaforth site to be cut away, but Stafford Architecture had ot...

Similar Stories

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Elizabeth Kulas, Host And Producer Of The 7am Podcast

The host and producer of Schwartz Media's daily news podcast shares her typical day.

Family

Cormach Evans and Coco Eke On Aboriginal Excellence, Pandemic Parenting And Their No Dickheads Policy

We visit the young family at their home on the sun-soaked shores of Jan Juc.
Ashe Davenport

Dream Job

Reporting The News In 2020, With Sydney-Based New York Times Journalist Isabella Kwai

How the young journalist scored this dream gig, and what it's like working for one of the world's biggest news organisations in what has bee...

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.