A day in the life of a freelance medical writer

Rachel Pascal | Freelance medical and healthcare copywriter |

As much as I love a system or two to keep me in line, life as a freelance medical writer can be…unpredictable (to say the least)! Each day, you set out with a post-it note of well-ordered intentions and before you know it, there’s a curveball. A call to jump on, an offer of exciting new work, a voicemail from preschool or nursery.

Although no day is ever quite the same, I have worked over time to find a routine that works for me, my life and my growing business.

I’m keen to give an honest and open account of my life as a freelancer, so this blog is a snapshot of a typical day as a freelance health writer, business owner and Mum of two. At the moment, I work five days a week, with Friday as my ‘less busy’ day.

Starting the day right

The day starts bright and (very) early around 05:30, with my littlest coming into our bed for cuddles and books. While I love the occasional lie in (rare these days), I know I’ll miss these moments one day. So 05:30 am it is!

My eldest likes a little more sleep and rises about 07:00. Then the morning routine really kicks in. Milk, get dressed, breakfast for the boys and out the door. I’d love to pretend it all happens that smoothly, but any parent knows that finding shoes and brushing teeth can be a tedious part of the day!

Before we leave, I grab a cup of tea (Earl Grey, please) and have a quick check of my work phone so I know what I’ll need to prioritise that day. I make an effort to keep it locked away in my office over night (to show it who’s boss). This little bit of control means that once the working day is done, I can pop it back and try my hardest not to look at it after 17:00!

Depending on the weather, we’ll cycle or walk to pre-school and nursery. You should know that this part of the day is an adventure. There’s no other way to describe it.  We’ll stop off to watch the trains, point at snails, have a tantrum or two on the way. All the above and more.

Transition to ‘work mode’

Once the little ones are sorted for the day, the steady switch into work mode begins. After an intense start to the day, I need this little window. It helps my brain warm up for the working day to come.

I’ll often grab a coffee and go for a short walk around the local park, which gives me chance to wake up properly, on my own terms. If my husband is working from home, he joins me and we’ll take a stroll together, chatting about what’s going on in our lives / our businesses / with the kids.

Once I’m back home, I’ll get myself breakfast and have a shower, before starting work by 09:00.

The working day

I organise my working day into chunks of time. 

For the first hour or so, I focus on admin. Replying to emails, posting on social media, chasing contracts, editing blog posts and making updates to your website can sneakily eat away at your day. These jobs always seem to take that little bit longer than I expect, so I dedicate the first part of the day to getting them out of the way.

Then, I usually have one or two client jobs to prioritise each day. I’ll order them based on deadlines or complexity. As you know from my previous blogs, my work as a health and medical writer is very varied, so I use my experience to make a judgement call on workload and the approximate time each task will take.

To help me get a better understanding of time spent on certain tasks, I recently started recording on a Clockify timer. Coincidentally, this has also encouraged me to factor in proper breaks to my working day. I encourage you to try timing your daily tasks too.

Logging off

The longer I’ve freelanced, the more I’ve valued setting boundaries to distinguish, very clearly, between work time and family time. So I try my hardest to ensure my working day is done by 17:00, although it is usually more like 16:00 these days.

Of course, there are days when I work later to get a big job ticked off, or wrap up something I’m really enjoying writing. I try to ensure these days are a one-off and not the norm. I want to be able to collect my kids at 17:00, get in a trip to the park (on those sunny days), and read bedtime books.

Final thoughts

Of course, some days are different: I might be travelling, meeting a client, or chatting to my accountant, so there always needs to be room for some flexibility!

When you’re running your own business, the to-do list can feel never ending and it can be hard to switch off. But I know myself a little better now. I trust myself. I know that that final paragraph can wait. That LinkedIn post can wait. 

It’s taken time, but I just find it easier to log off, pop the kettle on and enjoy downtime with my loved ones nowadays.

And there you have it. A day in the life of…me! I hope it was enjoyable to read and something you could relate to. 

As always, thank you so much for being here. 

If you struggle to organise your day and workload, consider hopping on a mentoring call with me. I offer sessions for aspiring health writers and would be more than happy to help shape your day. 

Get to know me a little better by checking out the words on my website.

If you’re interested in other blogs about positive approaches to the problems we face as freelancers, why not have a read of my piece on ‘Freelancing and Mental health.’

If you like what you read, take a look at my previous blogs to learn a little bit more about my story and some of the areas I’ve written about. 

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Drop me a line to find out more about me, my rates and availability, and how we could work together. 

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A note from me:

I work Tuesday through Friday. I’ll aim to get back to you within 24 hours during the working week.