9 Freelancing Tips for Handling Illness

How are you feeling today?

I hope you’re feeling well, but the sad truth is that freelancers are just like everyone else. We get sick sometimes.

Unlike other workers, however, freelancers don’t have paid sick time. There are a lot of perks that go along with freelancing, but taking a paid day off when we’re not feeling well is not one of them.

An illness doesn’t have to derail you as a freelancer. There are some steps that you can take to help yourself out when you’re sick.

In this post, I share nine tips that freelancers can use when they’re sick. Each tip can be used by itself, or you may be able to make use of several tips.

What to Do When You’re Sick

Finally, you’re freelancing. Being your own boss is like a dream come true–except for today. Today, you’re just not feeling well. You wish you could call in sick, but of course, as a freelancer you can’t. There’s no one to call.

Like everything else that could go wrong, getting sick tends to happen at the worst possible time–like right before a huge deadline. But, don’t despair. There are some steps you can take to manage the situation.

Here are nine tips to help you cope with illness:

  1. Stay Calm. Stress makes everything worse. Stress also contributes to many illnesses and can make symptoms worse, so keep calm even though you might feel lousy. Even though things might seem bad now, you (and your freelancing business) will probably come through this situation just fine.
  2. Assess the Situation. Things may not be as bad as they seem. By its very nature, freelance work allows for some flexibility of schedule. Determine what work is really pressing and what work can realistically be put off until your feel better. Keep in mind client temperaments.
  3. Cut out the Nonessential Tasks. We freelancers do many necessary nonbillable tasks (such as marketing, answering emails, and so on), but not all of these tasks are time critical. While you’re sick, put off doing all but your most pressing freelancing tasks.
  4. Contact a Buddy to Back You Up. This is one time when networking with other freelancers can help. You may be able to outsource all, or part, of your time-sensitive tasks to another trusted freelancer until you feel better. Some freelancers even make arrangements to back each other up during emergencies well in advance of an actual problem.
  5. Tap Into the Strength of Your Support Network. Get help with your non-freelance related tasks too. Let your friends and family help out. Maybe your partner can cut the lawn or go shopping. Maybe a friend is willing to water your plants for you. If worst comes to worst, most household tasks can wait until you feel better.
  6. Take a Nap, or Two. Sleep is one of the important means that our body uses to repair itself. Yet freelancers are notorious for not getting enough sleep. Don’t be one of them. If you’re sick, allow yourself to get some extra rest so that you can heal. It’s okay to take a nap during the day if you need it.
  7. See the Doctor. Many freelancers hesitate to see the doctor, but often the doctor can recommend or prescribe something to alleviate many of your symptoms. Don’t suffer needlessly. Don’t wait until your illness is at its very worst before seeking professional care.
  8. Work Sick. This is probably the last thing you feel like doing, but sometimes it’s the only way. This is especially true if you are close to finishing a project and can’t bring someone else up to speed. Just be careful and don’t rush through the job. You’re more likely to make a mistake if you’re sick.
  9. Ask for a Project Extension. Your clients are human too. They’ve gotten sick before and they also know that freelancers get sick from time to time. Level with them and let them know you need some extra time on this project. They may just say “yes.” (Especially if you have been reliable in the past.)

Your Turn

How do you deal with illness as a freelancer?

Share your best tips in the comments below.

Image by mcfarlandmo