Writing when you don’t have time

Licia Genovese

In modern society, everything we do needs to be quick, efficient and to-the-point. There is no doubt about it.

You wake up, it takes 2-3 minutes to brush your teeth, 10 minutes to have breakfast, at least 5 to 15 to choose what to wear (depending perhaps on whether or not you are a fashion-addict) and if you’re lucky and your train isn’t late, you arrive at work quite on time...quite.

Which are the factors responsible of stealing your precious time?

  • Time spent on social media or on smartphones? Yes, why not. At least half hour-to-an hour could be saved if, for example, you weren’t too curious in wanting to know what your next-door neighbour is having for dinner (which will appear as a status update on facebook).
  • Excessive workload? Yes, maybe.
  • Commuting to work and back home? Yes, maybe.

Let’s focus on what is known as work-life balance. Generally speaking, most of us work to live and not vice versa. Having said this, how does a medical writer find time to live life at its fullest and be efficient in his/her work at the same time? If I knew the answer to this question, I would be a millionaire perhaps.

However, let’s consider some factors:

A medical writer can be a full-time employee, a part-time employee, work off-site for a company in another country or be a freelance. Independently of how you wish to manage your time…a medical writer has a very intense job which needs to meet your supervisor’s expectations and make clients happy…every day!

Let’s have a look at how a medical writer can manage time:

• A full-time employee tries to start and finish everything during office hours (which may not always happen)
• A part-time employee tries to finish everything during the hours written on his/her contract
• An off-site medical writer will behave similarly to a full-time employee with the difference of not needing to badge in or out of the office.
• A freelance manages time as his/her wishes and usually gets paid per hour.

So, who has a better work -life balance? Well, it is difficult to tell. Yes, a freelance has more work flexibility but a full-time employee has other advantages… but both professional profiles may sometimes work 24-hours-non-stop. Nevertheless, your workload really depends on the client as well and on the type of project you’re working on.

The following are some activities that can help a medical writer manage time (applies generally to life):

Post-work activities: Whether, it is a drink with colleagues, sports, theatre…it is crucial to clear your mind. Only a clear mind will lead you to being able to optimise your workload and to be more productive …and yes, your boss will be happy about that!
Meditation: I must say I have never tried this activity, but I believe it has potential to relieve stress, calm you and help you think more clearly and rationally.
Talking to a friend or why not to your therapist:
  • Talking to a friend (or a colleague) is always a good option. Don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. A friend can help, a friend can suggest what to do, having a friend who simply listens is good enough.
  • Talk to your therapist. Yes, why not. I’m not saying this is specifically needed for a medical writer. Generally, I believe this professional figure can help to improve your work-life balance. Let’s not be afraid of the word therapist. If you go to the US, many Americans have a therapist. It’s normal. In this modern word, where connection leads to disconnection, a therapist might be the best and wisest person with whom to connect. A therapist can help you organise your thoughts and improve your quality of life and work productivity.
Make a list - prioritise: Don’t try to do everything at once. Make a list. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t meet the deadline after all!

In conclusion, writing when you don’t have time can be done and can be fun. * Don’t get lazy. Laziness leads to laziness. If you feel it’s too much, follow these steps:

1) Sit down for 5 minutes

2) Breathe deeply

3) Make a list, order your priorities ….and start writing!

4) Once you finished writing, take a deserved break.

Check out these simple breathing exercises here: https://greatist.com/happiness/breathing-exercises-relax

*This article was written on train, while I was heading back home for Christmas.

Licia Genovese