I have been earning a living through freelancing for well over a year, but even now, being sick represents a significant challenge that is not easily avoided or resolved. Unlike a regular job, calling in sick is rarely an option, especially as I may be working with upwards of ten clients at any one time. Yet, there are ways to get through being sick while you freelance, without losing your customer base or torturing yourself.
1. Put yourself first
Most people who run an online business have a bad habit of pushing themselves further than they should and for working longer hours than are needed. It’s hard not to do this, because you know your computer is in the other room, and if you could just get a little bit further on a particular piece of work it would help. I have been known to spend ten hours a day working on occasion simply because I felt guilty stopping.
Many people find that these same tendencies are present when they are sick, which often results in people pushing themselves to work when they are clearly not up to it. When you are sick, the amount of time you spend taking care of yourself can determine how fast you get better.
This means that you are better off spending two or three days resting and relaxing, than a week or two trying to work every day, and having a hard time the entire time.
So if at all possible, take a bit of time off, stock up on fluids and medicine, and wait it out.
Personally, I like the idea in the video below, as I am just getting over a severe head cold and feel pretty bad all around. Regardless of what is wrong, having a rest from work will help you to feel better and recover much faster than you could otherwise.
2. Work out what can be pushed off
One of the challenges with freelancing is that you accept orders days or weeks before they are actually due. This means that you have to guess what circumstances will be present when you are working on an order. For me, a full week of work is no problem when I am well, so I might take on quite a lot some weeks. Then, I end up being sick, or there is a family emergency, and suddenly a normal workload seems unbearable.
Because of this, I prioritize my work based on what deadlines absolutely must be completed on this day, and which ones can be moved. This involves knowing my clients well and understanding their needs. For example, some of my clients must have their project on the deadline they give me, while for other clients, the deadline is an arbitrary date, and can be easily shifted.
If I need to, I can talk to some of these clients and work out with them whether their deadline can be pushed off a few days. Often, I’ll let them know exactly what is wrong, or offer them compensation for the delay in reaching deadline.