What to Do When You Get Sick

Getting sick is no fun for anyone. For a freelance designer (and other freelancers), getting sick (or injured) might spell financial disaster. That’s because freelance designers who don’t work don’t get paid. There’s also the risk of losing a client.

In this post, I examine some of the uncomfortable decisions freelancers must face when they become ill. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Freelancing During an Illness.

Three Choices for Sick Freelance Designers

As freelancer, you basically have three choices:

  • Work full-time while sick
  • Cut back on work
  • Stop working

Let’s examine each choice carefully.

Choice #1: Working Full-time While Sick

Sometimes you just have to work on a project even if you feel lousy. You might not have enough money saved to take a break. Your client might not be willing to give you a break. Or, you might be so close to completing your project that it doesn’t make sense to change the schedule or bring in someone new.

As long as your doctor hasn’t prohibited you from working, you’re probably okay if you stick to your normal work schedule during a minor illness.

After all, if you work from home you won’t be spreading your germs to anyone. Plus, as a home-based worker you don’t have to worry about the daily commute (and the consequences of driving while taking medication). If you need to lie down during the day, your bed is not too far away.

Still, you should take some precautions if you decide to work through an illness. Here are some of them:

  • Double-check your work and then check it again. If you don’t feel well, you’re much more likely to make mistakes.
  • Don’t burn your candle at both ends. If you’ve decided to work through your illness, understand that you may need to cut back on personal commitments until you feel better./li>
  • Take a nap if you have to. One of the perks of working from home and freelancing is that no one is looking over your shoulder. Short naps during the day can help you get more done.

Of course, you don’t have to work full-time if you’re sick. There are other options.

Choice #2 Cutting Back on Work

You may benefit from cutting back on your workload while you are sick. A reduced schedule can help you heal more quickly and ensure the quality of the work that you do.

Here are some ways to temporarily reduce your work schedule:

  • Cut out administrative tasks like marketing and social media. Freelance designers are constantly marketing, of course, but a temporary hiatus for a short time shouldn’t hurt.
  • Delay the start of new projects. If you know you’ve got a project starting in the next few days, your client may be willing to relax their schedule.
  • Have the family help. Unless you live alone, you may able to get others in your household to take over some of your non-freelancing tasks until you are well.
  • Hire a subcontractor to do some of your most taxing projects. If you have a colleague who is willing, you may be able to hire them to complete some of your projects.

Now that we’ve examined cutting back on work, it’s time to look at the consequences of not working.

Choice #3 Not Working At All

The final choice that a freelancer has when they get sick or injured is to not work at all. In fact, depending on the extent of your illness, you may not even be able to work.

Not working can be the right choice when:

  • The illness is extremely short-term and missing a day won’t hurt anything. Most freelancers have natural gaps in their schedules anyway. If that’s you and you’re sick, don’t worry about not working for a day or two.
  • The illness is long-term and requires a long convalescence. If your illness (or injury) requires a substantial recovery period, such as several months, you may have no choice except to put your freelancing business on hold for a while by not accepting work.

Of course, not working has financial consequences. I hope that you have an emergency fund saved to help you through this rough period.

Your Turn

What do you do when you get sick? What choices for dealing with illness as a freelancer have you made in the past and how did they work out?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by RLHyde

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Laura’s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.

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