When you're self-employed, there's no such thing as sick days, with a team back in the office able to help out with your duties while you're home in bed. You've got work to deliver to clients, appointments to keep, your own expectations to live up to. It's easy to think that you don't have time to be sick.
So, what can you do to decrease your likelihood of falling ill? And what can you do when do you fall sick?
1. Eat Well
It can be tempting when you're working at home to not stop for lunch, or just snack on what's in the fridge. However, you'll feel a lot better if you stop and eat a proper lunch, whether it's a simple sandwich or salad at home, or something nice at a local cafe. Don’t also feel at networking drinks that you have to hold a glass of wine or beer, or eat the deep-fried canapés. You can just stick to sparkling water and eat the dinner you’ve planned to cook at home.
2. Keep Fit
Make sure you regularly find time to exercise. On days when I do some exercise in the morning, I find that I feel more energetic and optimistic. It doesn't have to be much (in fact a big training session will drain me); my favourite tool at the moment is the Quick Fit 7 Minute fitness app. Other options include yoga, heading out for a brisk walk, or even meditating.
3. Switch Off
It's easy to work all day, every day when your workplace is at home. In particular, if you receive work emails to your personal email address and have social media account notifications popping up, it's hard to switch off. Make sure you have a break from work most days. Whether it's stopping each evening at 5pm or having a long lunch during the middle of the day (possibly also a class at the gym?), make some time for yourself away from work. If necessary, also have a digital-free day once a week.
4. Take Some Time Out
If you're coming down with something, you can usually sense it in advance, from feeling drained and unmotivated. If you feel like this, it's probably better for you to spend some time relaxing, such as by spending the morning in bed or chilling out over some TV, rather than pushing yourself to keep going. I know that this is often enough to make me perk back up and not come down with a proper sickness.
5. Know What's Important
If you do come down sick, it's important that you know what’s important and what isn't. Go through your schedule and make note of the important items (such as those with deadlines that can't budge) versus items that can be delayed until another day or another week, or cancelled completely. If you were planning to go to a free networking event, you could probably skip it unless it's vital that you meet up with people there. You probably also wouldn’t make the most of such events!
6. Have Some Flexibility
If you're fully booked out, it's harder to take it easy while you're sick and relax until you get back on your feet. Keep some space in your schedule for some nice to do type tasks. For instance, most days I plan to take my dog for a walk at the local park, but I know he won't mind if we skip a day. Alternatively, have some more low-key work that you can switch to when you're not feeling well (such as social media follow-up), or if you’re a blogger have some pre-written posts that are ready to go so you keep to your publishing schedule.
7. Work When You're At Your Best
Most people have an optimum time of the day for working, whether it's early in the morning, in the middle of the day or late at night. Does this remain the same when you're sick, or does it change (such as feeling worse in the morning when you have a head cold and have just gotten up)? Know when you're likely to feel your best, and try to get your important tasks ticked off then.
8. Don't Do Too Much Too Soon
When you're starting to feel better, by all means catch up on things that have been delayed, but don't start doing too much again too soon, especially over-working to make up for the loss time. This will increase the chance that you'll fall sick again, as you won't fully recover. Take it easy for a few days as possible, and remind yourself that you no one is ever perfect and gets everything done!
Shandos Cleaver is a freelance writer and consultant, who recently put aside a successful IT career to launch Travelnuity, an online travel magazine for the savvy traveller. The website’s mission is to provide ingenious tips to stretch people’s travel budgets. She also regularly writes on business and IT-related topics, plus in the past has been featured in publications as diverse as Australian Geographic Outdoor, Australian Traveller, inthemix.com.au and Lip Mag.
Photo Credit: Gratisography